We began last summer by going back to the place it all started, to the shores of Blue Mountain Lake, where in 1968 Dwight Waldo famously challenged the academy to better respond to the social and political turmoil of the 1960s. We gathered approximately 45 scholars, practitioners, and representatives of professional associations at Syracuse University’s Minnowbrook Center in the Adirondack Mountains for this 50th anniversary conference. The attendees were diverse and hailed from institutions across the country. Small group sessions fostered deliberation about new and old themes, and large group plenaries surfaced numerous tensions and debates. Many important issues were raised and discussed, but many more remain, and though the participants were diverse, more voices need to be heard.
Please watch the Minnowbrook at 50 video to hear from some of the participants about today’s challenges in public administration and their thoughts about opportunities for the academy to make an impact. Then, join the conversation at an upcoming event or on social media with #Minnowbrook50.
We know what Minnowbrook represents to scholars and students of public administration, and we want to engage each of you in a dialogue about our future. Please join us.
Minnowbrook at 50 Concept Papers
About Minnowbrook at 50
An intellectually diverse group of scholars and practitioners convened at Minnowbrook at 50 to consider the state of public administration fifty years after Minnowbrook I. New and old themes emerged in both the small group sessions and large group plenaries. The seven small groups wrote short summaries of the topics they tackled:
- Relevance of Public Administration Scholarship
- Analytic Frameworks: Micro, Meso, and Macro Level Public Administration
- Overcoming American Centricity
- Integrative Public Administration
- Automation and Artificial Intelligence
- Democracy, Public Administration, and Public Values
- Social Equity in Public Administration
Large group plenaries surfaced numerous tensions in the field:
- Some wanted the field to encourage normative scholarship, while others wanted it only to focus on positive scholarship.
- Some argued we should actively acknowledge the field’s role in initiating and perpetuating injustices and oppressions, while others argued our role is to generate objective knowledge.
- Some believed we should assert the centrality of democracy in the field’s professional identity, while others believed the field should expand to include public administration in non-democratic settings.
- Some asserted the field should use its voice to advocate or take a stand on current issues, while others asserted we should remain objective and impartial.
There was also vigorous discussion of tenure standards for junior faculty and debate over whether these standards are a disincentive asking big questions or doing engaged scholarship.
Many other important issues were discussed and debated, and many more remain. You can find in-depth information on Minnowbrook at 50 discussion in “Assessing the Past and Future of Public Administration: Reflections from the Minnowbrook at 50 Conference” and the Minnowbrook at 50 special issue in Perspectives on Public Management and Governance.
We invite you to join us in celebrating the legacy of Minnowbrook by engaging in the conversation.