Let’s Stop Educating Closet Historians

Richard A. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Public administration is inherently an interdisciplinary field, prominently incorporating theory and methods from economics, political science, and sociology. Less obviously, however, MPA curricula include historical treatments of particular policy arenas, institutions, the administrative state, and the professions of policy analyst and public management. In addition, the case method that figures prominently in MPA pedagogy and the research MPA students perform depend on doing history. Yet, history as a scholarly endeavor is rarely included in basic courses, much less instruction in research methods. This essay explores the use of history in MPA curricula and how MPA students might acquire a deeper appreciation of history and how historians ply their craft.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-44
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Public Affairs Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Public Administration


  • historiography
  • interdisciplinary curricula
  • political development
  • public administration history


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