Mason and the Netherlands Partner to Educate Dutch Officials in Public Policy

Posted: October 22, 2010 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: October 21, 2010 at 3:16 pm

By Steven A. Harris Scott, graduate research assistant, Global Office

For the past 11 years, Mason has hosted a contingent of mid-level governmental officials from the Netherlands in a collaborative master’s degree program in public administration (MPA).

Mason works in partnership with the Netherlands School for Public Administration (NSOB or Nederlandse School voor Openbaar Bestuur), a private graduate school chartered by the Dutch government.

Cohorts typically include 20 students, who spend most of their two years at the Netherlands School. The students spend their last couple of months anywhere in the world to do field research on their individual research topics.

At Mason, the students receive an orientation to American society, guidance on their research, and help from Mason faculty in setting up interviews and doing archival research to pursue their own research topics in the Washington, D.C., area.

The goal of the program is to identify midcareer Dutch ministers who are bright, hardworking and “the future stars” of various Dutch ministries, according to James Riggle, research associate professor with the Mason Enterprise Center in the School of Public Policy.

NSOB offers very few degree programs, all of them graduate level. According to Riggle, who serves as the faculty contact for this program at Mason, “we would recognize it as an executive MPA degree.”

Mason took over from Virginia Tech as a main base for this program a decade ago. Among the attractive features of locating the program at Mason is its proximity to Washington, D.C., and its well-connected School of Public Policy.

According to Riggle, Mason’s reward for being “welcoming hosts” is that it creates a strong bond with these Dutch officials, who will soon “ascend the ranks both within the Dutch government and sometimes outside of it.”

The latest cohort is currently wrapping up at Mason and will be returning home soon.

For Riggle, the most rewarding aspect of his involvement with the program is correcting the various misperceptions that these Dutch scholars have of the United States .

He reports that the Dutch are often surprised by the size of the United States, the general helpfulness and politeness of strangers and the openness of American society.

Write to gazette at gazette@gmu.edu