Symposium Examines Large-Scale Policy Change

2/16/2011

Academics from fifteen U.S. and Canadian universities gathered at Suffolk University Law School on February 11 to discuss the challenges of large-scale policy change.

The symposium was hosted by the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service and the scholarly journal Governance, which is co-edited by Rappaport Professor Alasdair Roberts.

"Our aim was to examine how the big ideas that shape policy -- for example, economic globalization -- rise and fall," said Roberts. "We looked at the role of entrepreneurs in selling new ideas and how old ideas are shaken by crises."

Peter Hall, the Krupp Foundation Professor of European Studies at Harvard University, wrote an influential article on policy change that served as the basis for many of the February 11 papers. Hall examined how current ideas about the role of government became established after the turmoil of the 1970s.

Participants puzzled over the lack of significant change in thinking about the role of markets following the 2007 financial crisis.

The old faith in markets persists like the "walking dead," said Professor Sheri Berman of Barnard College -- drained of life but not yet displaced by a new set of ideas.

Some participants speculated that it was still too soon to see substantial changes in government policy toward regulation of the financial sector and other aspects of the economy.

Other authors examined recent trends in particular policy areas, such as pension privatization and the regulation of genetically modified foods.

The papers will be published in Governance next year.

Governance, which is based at Suffolk University Law School, is one of the top-ranked scholarly journals in public affairs in the world.

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