Thursday, September 23, 2010

Oxford to groom future leaders - 'skills and responsibilities of government' - oxford goes global - 'dealing with complex problems'

"Wherever you turn your eye - except in science - an Oxford man is at the top of the tree." -- Cecil Rhodes


New Oxford school of governance will 'groom future world leaders'
Jeevan Vasagar, education editor
Monday 20 September 2010

Blavatnik school will teach the 'skills and responsibilities of government' and how to deal with complex problems

Many UK prime ministers and world leaders have studied at Oxford but until now, the university has had no school dedicated to governance.
Photograph: Martin Godwin

Oxford University, which has educated 26 British prime ministers, will today unveil plans for a new school of government dedicated to grooming future world leaders.

The school, funded by a £75m gift from a US philanthropist, will train graduates from around the world in the "skills and responsibilities of government," the university said.

Students will be taught how to deal with complex problems such as the BSE crisis or swine flu which require an understanding of specialist areas of science and the law, as well as being given a grounding in practical skills such as handling budgets.

Professor Ngaire Woods, academic director of the new school, said: "We sat down and said, with 21st century policy problems, what does a public policy maker need to understand about them?

"We've got an analytical part of the curriculum and a practical part. We're not trying to train scientists and medics, but we'll be teaching how to be an informed user of scientific advice.

"For example the BSE crisis; how do you manage the scientific advice, the legal advice, the political advice? We've got a module where we've got a zoologist, a lawyer and a political scientist, and we're bringing them together to teach this."

The course will combine disciplines ranging from the humanities, social sciences and law, to science, technology, health, finance, energy and security policy. The school will also teach an understanding of different political systems.

Prof Woods said students of the school's one-year master's degree will also compare political systems: "How do different [political] systems work – who has authority? How do we know if a decision will be implemented?"

The international outlook of the course will be one of its distinctive features. "It will be good to train [students] to understand other countries, and also [study] with people in other countries. To have global thinking, global understanding, global networking."

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