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Governance: Euro style

Prof Dr Alexander Graser, who teaches at Berlin’s Hertie School of Governance, talks about the growing popularity of German social sciences courses report Vimal Chander Joshi

education Updated: Jul 28, 2010 10:16 IST
Vimal Chander Joshi

What is the USP of German universities for programmes in public policy and governance?
Germany has a strong tradition of research and education in the field of social sciences. In the past decade, quite a number of innovative study programmes on governance and public policy have complemented this tradition. They typically have a strong professional component, and some of them – such as the Master of Public Policy (MPP) at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin – also have a very international outlook. These programmes have proven to be very attractive to students from outside Germany. At the Hertie School, more than 60 per cent of students come from outside Germany, with almost 10 percent coming from Asia.
Our foreign students tell us that they were looking for an opportunity to study governance from a European perspective and with an international outlook.

Germany's capital is located in the heart of Europe and offers an ideal setting for this. There is hardly any place in Europe with a more vibrant international community.

Germany is better-known for engineering sciences. Do public policy institutes draw similar attention from prospective students? What are the trends for this area from Indian as well as other international students?
The intellectual roots of many internationally-renowned social scientists can be traced back to German academia. From Max Weber to Jürgen Habermas and Niklas Luhmann, Germany has a tradition in social science research and analysis. German study programmes on governance and public policy build on this tradition. The relevance and attractiveness of these programmes for both students and employers are growing in view of the challenges we are currently facing at all levels of the international system.

Are there some statistics that establish the fact that the interest in study programmes in the area of art and social studies at German universities is growing?
The imbalance between the fields of study is not that large. While we have about 9,000 students from eastern Asia enrolled in engineering sciences, there are 7,000 international students in law, economics, and social sciences programmes in Germany. Twelve per cent of the 3,500 students from India are enrolled in law, economics, and social sciences.

Which are the possible career options available after finishing public policy programmes in Germany?
The particular strength of the Hertie School is its international, interdisciplinary, and inter-sectoral approach. Our graduates pursue attractive careers in the public, private, and civil society sectors, either in their home countries or with international organisations.

What is the practical exposure available to students enrolled in your institution?
Professional development is an important part of the MPP programme. Between their first and second year of study, our students complete an internship at an institution of their choice in the public, private, or civil society sector. In addition, selected MPP students are offered the opportunity to participate in our Professional Year programme. Currently, the Hertie School has arranged a Professional Year with a number of German federal ministries, as well as organisations operating internationally. The Professional Year provides our students the opportunity to gain real-world work experience and share these experiences with their fellow students in the second year of study.

Overall, the MPP programme seeks to provide students with knowledge, tools, and skills to tackle all sorts of policy problems in their future professional life. MPP courses are taught by faculty, by guest lecturers with a strong research profile, and by senior practitioners from relevant professional backgrounds.

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