Bringing the Past Back In: The Revival of History in Policy Studies

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Jeremy Rayner (University of Regina). Bringing the past back in – the uses of history in policy analysis and public administration.

After several decades in which policy studies and public administration have been dominated by models drawn from the more positivistic social sciences, there has recently been a renewed interest in historical approaches. This paper will review the sources of the revival, its nature and limits

Michael Howlett (Simon Fraser University). Historical Causation and Policy Studies: Models and Metaphors

This paper assesses the merits of three general alternative models or metaphors of historical sequencing– path dependency, historical narratives and process sequencing – both in their application to social phenomena in general and as specifically applied to the study of public policy-making.

Ken Rasmussen (University of Regina). History and Public Management: Does the past have answers?

Historical analysis has been a part of the discipline of public administration since its earliest days and can be traced to the historical scholarship of Max Weber. Once again there is growing awareness within public administration of the role that historical analysis can play in helping us understand contemporary problems This paper will examine the ways in which historical scholarship has been used in areas such as the study of policy failure, administrative reform, and corruption.

Keith Brownsey (Mount Royal College, Alberta). Trees, Grass, and Oil: Managing Conflicting Land Use in Three North American Jurisdictions

This paper uses a historical approach to compare the land management and regulatory regimes of the Canadian province of Alberta and the American states of New Mexico and Montana. It will focus on the different institutional settings of the three jurisdiction as an explanation for the development of three very different systems of land use management.


Keywords: Policy analysis, Policy sciences, Public Administration, Historical Institutionalism, Historical sequencing, Land-use management, Policy failures, Corruption
Stream: History, Historiography
Presentation Type: Colloquium in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Jeremy Rayner

Head, Department of Political Science, University of Regina
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Jeremy Rayner was educated at the universities of Cambridge, Durham and British Columbia and has taught most recently at the University of Victoria, Malaspina University-College, and the University of Regina (where he is currently Head of the Political Science Department). Originally trained as a historian of political thought, he wrote on seventeenth century political thought before switching his research interests to resource and environmental policy in the (probably mistaken) belief that policy analysis has more contemporary relevance than the history of political thought. While he publishes on policy issues in mainstream journals such as Governance, Policy Sciences and the Journal of Public Policy, he continues to seek ways in which the skills of the political theorist can inform the the work of the policy analyst, especially in the education of policy professionals.

Dr. Michael Howlett

Professor, Political Science, Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

Michael Howlett is Burnaby Mountain Chair at SFU and specializes in public policy analysis, Canadian political economy, and Canadian resource and environmental policy. He is co-author of a number of books, including Studying Public Policy (2003 & 1995), In Search of Sustainability (2001), The Political Economy of Canada (1999 & 1992) and Canadian Natural Resource and Environmental Policy (1997 & 2005). He was English language co-editor of the Canadian Journal of Political Science (2002-2006) and is currently administrative editor of the Canadian Political Science Review (2007-2010), and co-editor of the World Political Science Review, the Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis and the University of Toronto Press Series in Comparative Political Economy and Public Policy.

Dr Ken Rasmussen

Director, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Regina
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Ken Rasmussen is Director of the Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Regina, Saskatchewan were he has taught since 1987. He was previously the Associate Dean, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Regina from 2000-2005. He has a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Toronto specialising in public administration and public policy. His research interests include public enterprise, administrative reform, non-profit organizations, administrative ethics, and provincial politics. He has been on the Secretary’s Advisory Committee, Treasury Board Secretariat, Government of Canada, the National Board of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada, and is currently Vice-Chair of the Saskatchewan Agri-Food Council. He is the author of numerous articles on public management and governance issues and is currently completing a book called, Merit, Management and Democracy: The Public Service Commission of Canada, 1908-2008.

Dr Keith Brownsey

Professor, Department of Policy Studies, Mount Royal College, Alberta
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Keith Brownsey is a Political Scientist at Mount Royal College, co-editor of both Provincial State in Canada: Politics in the Provinces and Territories (2001) and Executive Styles in Canada: Cabinet Government in Canada's Provinces (2005). He has written extensively on Alberta's/ Canada's oil and gas industry and is one of Alberta's most well-known commentators on political affairs.

Ref: H08P0339