"We found during the Covid-19 pandemic that the digital transformation of government can only succeed if both managers and staff develop the corresponding digital skills and capabilities," explains Ines Mergel, Professor of Public Administration and Digital Governance at the University of Konstanz. "Unfortunately, these are currently not taught in public affairs programmes."
This is why she co-initiated the project "Teaching Public Service in the Digital Age" together with David Eaves, associate professor at the University College London – Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, Tom Steinberg (a former CDO in the UK government) and Amanda Clarke, associate professor at Carleton University (Canada). The open access syllabus is designed to train professors who teach students in public administration and public policy programmes the skills required for the digital age. The project team developed teaching units ranging from components of digital systems to data and legal hurdles.
In collaboration with other professors and experts, they created an Open Educational Resource – a set of open access teaching materials that goes beyond the usual online curricula. The instructors explain their methods in detail, provide questions to discuss in class and give relevant background information. They also prepare case studies and provide videos from their own lectures. The materials include global experiences and research findings that, due to their multidisciplinary nature, can be adapted to meet the needs of teachers from different backgrounds.
About the Schmidt Futures Innovation Fellows Program
Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative of Eric and Wendy Schmidt, aims to bring talented people together in networks to prove out their ideas and solve hard problems in science and society. The Innovation Fellows Program supports extraordinary mid-career individuals and teams with ideas to leverage technology thoughtfully to solve important societal challenges. The program aims to serve as a force multiplier for their ideas and to bring them together into a community to support one another and mentor others.
Other supporters including Bloomberg Philanthropies are also providing funds for the project. Ines Mergel and David Eaves will join a cohort of leaders working across multiple sectors to drive impact, who connect and support one another's work and ideas, "We are so happy to receive this support for our project!", Ines Mergel says. "Volunteers have already translated the curriculum into several other languages. Now we can use the funds to support additional translations and offer even more master's classes in the train-the-trainer format. In this format, we introduce teachers to the content and work together on how they can teach and adapt the content to their local context." Further research projects are also planned.
- Ines Mergel, Professor of Public Administration and Digital Governance at the University of Konstanz, and David Eaves, associate professor at University College London (UCL) – Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, each receive a Schmidt Futures Innovation Fellowship. Also centrally involved in the project are Tom Steinberg and Amanda Clarke, Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada).
- Their project, "Teaching Public Service in the Digital Age," is supported by Schmidt Futures and Bloomberg Philanthropies (et al.). https://www.teachingpublicservice.digital/