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Introduction to Public Administration

Over the last two months I have been teaching two work-groups of pre-master students. During this course the pre-master students were introduced to Public Administration. They got their first taste of it at both the theoretical and practical level by letting them read and reflect on scholarly publications, participate in simulations and debates, but most importantly by having them apply their new knowledge in an advise report for the Municipality of Rotterdam.

All pre-master students were invited for a presentation at the municipality’s newly opened office “The Rotterdam” and were asked to advise them on two subjects: a) the development of a Student Quarter and b) increasing the number of highly educated students and young professionals in the city.

My students wrote a report about the latter subject. Compared to other large cities in the Netherlands, such as Amsterdam or Utrecht, Rotterdam has got fewer highly educated inhabitants. The city council therefore wants to increase this number and mentioned it in their last coalition agreement. The students examined if and how the municipality could increase the number of high-educated students and young professionals that work or live in the city by for example adapting their communication, cultural heritage, city branding, safety, or harbour policies. During an interesting Q&A session at City Hall the students were able to pick the brain of the civil servants working on these matters, see if their suggestions made sense, and if they had perhaps missed a vital policy document.

Last week the students presented their findings, sharply dressed, in our new Erasmus University College Building to a jury consisting of civil servants, and lecturers. For their hard work all the students received an official certificate, stating they have advised the Municipality. Hopefully, the reports of the students and their suggestions will be as valuable and interesting for the municipality as this assignment has been for the students. And of course I hope that the first taste of Public Administration made the students crave more, and they continue to explore the field with lots of enthusiasm and drive.

Photo: Rotterdam City Hall (Carl030nl)

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