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Classics in Public Administration and Political Science (4EC)

November 20th-21st, December 12th, 2023

Note that this course is split in two parts. Participants are expected to be present on all days.

20 Nov: Spinoza building 1.09
21 Nov: Spinoza building 0.07
12 Dec: Janskerkhof 3, 2.17

Duco Bannink (VU University Amsterdam) 
Thomas Schillemans
(Utrecht University)

Course fees

  • Free for NIG members
  • 500,- for non-members from an NIG member institution
  • 750,- for third parties

Changing societies lead to changes in the position of politics and public administration, both in social reality and in the literature. We offer a three-segment course in which we start from the classics and talk about how these social and social-scientific changes are related to your own PhD-dissertations. The first segment consists of a set of movie clips and a first meeting. The clips contain a filmed debate between your teachers in which they discuss their views on social change, late modernity and de-institutionalisation processes, the re-emergence of political conservatism and the nature of and limitations to governmental control ambitions. An additional clip is made outlining the design of the course. This additional clip is distributed to you by the NIG office.

The other three clips can be watched at the following links:

During our first meeting on 20 November, we discuss the literature selected for this course and we discuss how the viewpoints and insights of the discussed authors inform social-scientific work in public administration today and how these might inform your work. Subsequently, in preparation of the second segment, we ask you to consider how your own questions and approaches are affected by changing societies and changing public administration and politics, both in social reality and the literature. You have the opportunity to individually discuss your ideas with one of the teachers in an online meeting. This is the second segment. In the third segment, we discuss your and our own work in the light of the literature of the course. We draw a line from the questions of classic public administration and political science to the new questions that need be asked today.

Upon completion of the course students will be able to:

  1. explain key themes and issues in PA/PS.
  2. articulate key criticisms of scholarly work in the context of broader academic debates and societal change.
  3. discern the social-scientific and practical relevance of the debate, to articulate practical advice to actors involved in politics/governance that is grounded in the scholarly work on public administration and political science and to articulate implications for the own research projects.


In preparation for the first course meeting, students need to watch the video that is distributed by the NIG on the design of the course and three videos that are published at the youtube channel of De Nieuwe Wereld: the conversation between Jelle van Baardewijk and Willem Trommel, the conversation between Jelle van Baardewijk and Duco Bannink and the debate between Jelle van Baardewijk, Duco Bannink and Willem Trommel, moderated by David van Overbeek.

 Furthermore, they need to study the literature. At the November meeting, the teachers will introduce the literature and discuss it with the students.

 To conclude the course, we ask each participant to write a short essay (900 to 1500 words) that starts from the course seminars on what he or she considers a suitable response to the discussed issues in current scholarly work on public governance and the own dissertation design. Furthermore, we ask students to prepare a presentation to be delivered at our meeting in December. To what extent are you able to find new avenues for theory and research? How do these help the disciplines forward? The essay needs be handed in before the April/May meetings (send by e-mail to,, Between our meetings, you have the opportunity to have an individual online conversation on these questions with one of the teachers.


The essay and the participation at the course meetings is assessed by the teachers.