Guest Column by Professor Helen Sullivan

June 13 / 112

Yesterday the University launched the Melbourne School of Government, a pan-university graduate school that aims to make a major contribution to finding workable solutions to the challenges facing governments and policy makers, nationally and internationally.

The School will develop innovative responses to contemporary policy questions, foster a culture of public debate and help train the Asia Pacific’s next crop of political leaders.

Based in the Faculty of Arts, the new School is a partnership between the faculties of Arts, Business and Economics and Law who between them cover the core disciplines of government. But the School is also connected to colleagues in other parts of the University  - from Architecture to Population Health - who hafve a longstanding interest in improving the quality and impact of public policy.

We are choosing to launch the new School in a difficult and uncertain environment.  Governments and policy makers across the globe face major challenges including climate change, resource security, economic instability and migration. The rise of Asia poses particular questions for Australia and its role in the region. At the same time trust in government is on the wane, engagement in politics is changing in a way we don’t yet fully understand, partly driven by the potential of social media, and public debate has become polarised and polarising. 

As a public-spirited institution we believe we have a role to play in working with policy makers, industry leaders and citizens and communities to navigate this complex landscape and develop actionable and sustainable solutions. The School of Government aims to fulfil this role through a comprehensive program of research, teaching and engagement activities.

Our interdisciplinary research program will investigate a range of issues including:  how we design and build sustainable governing institutions, how we manage markets for public benefit, how we ensure that all voices are listened to in decision-making, how we fund and organise public services into the future, and how we bridge the gap between academic research and policy. Our research will focus on asking the ‘next questions’ and we will work with governments, international institutions, not for profit organisations and industry bodies to pursue these.

The School of Government will offer course work masters programs and research higher degrees. It will host the Master of Development Studies, Master of International Relations and Master of Public Policy and Management. A new Master of Public Administration will be offered from 2014. The School will also deliver a range of Executive Education programs for professionals from all sectors who want to access the latest thinking and research to support their professional development.

It will be actively engaged in promoting and supporting public debate through our public events program as well as through policy briefings and contributions to media. This year staff from the new School are helping establish Election Watch, an Australian-first policy analysis and political strategy website that will engage the public with the policy detail and deep analysis often missing from mainstream coverage of politics (

These activities plus many others will all contribute to the School’s mission to improve the capacity of policy makers to make wise decisions, build stronger public institutions and secure better outcomes for society.

 More information about the School and how to get involved is available on our website, and you can also follow the new Melbourne School of Government on Twitter, at @Government_UoM

Professor Helen Sullivan

Director, Melbourne School of Government



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