Social Media

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Are Canadian youth politically active?

By Milton Orris

Over the past few years the media have frequently focused on the role of young people in a society being particularly active in political uprisings.  Remember Egypt, Tunisia, India, the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US, and currently the protests in Ukraine. Closer to home there was the surprise election of the Calgary’s young, Muslim mayor, apparently made possible by a vigorous social media campaign in which many young people took part.

As a youth in the 1940s to the 1970s I was expected by my family to be very, very active in every way – and I was – even running to be a candidate (didn‘t make it though) – however I have always worked hard in every election because that was my political heritage.   

Three things we need to know about Canadian youth and political action:

1. Young people will become politically active when there is a cause that they can identify with – whether it is the emergence of democracy in dictatorships or persuading governments to listen to them.

2. Young people in Canada are getting involved – look at the number of younger candidates in the last Federal Election who ran and were elected in Quebec especially, as well as a few others across the country.  However it is still a rather rare phenomenon.

3. There has been a decline in opportunity for young people to participate – the Young Liberals, Conservatives, NDP organizations have all but disappeared when compared to their existence and activity level in the 70s, 80s, and into the 90s. And now to make things worse the funding was removed from Elections Canada to do their Get Out The Youth Vote program they had in previous elections.

Three myths about Canadian youth and political action:

       Myth #1:  Young people don’t care. 

      The Reality:  They do. They just don’t see the major parties paying any attention to them or their concerns.
      Myth #2:  Attack ads really work.  

      The Reality:  They don’t and young people are increasingly fed up with the negativity of politics.
      Myth #3:  We can’t fix this.  

      The Reality:  Yes we can if we start getting involved at the high school level with the youngest potential voters and create a different political culture.  We need impartial speakers to give them the information, perhaps run “mock elections”, and encourage them to work for a candidate of their choice.

        Milton Orris is presently a consultant in Health and Education. He is President of Orris Consultants Inc., a company that has worked on strategic and operational planning, project management, leadership development, organizational renewal and related areas for a wide variety of organizations in Canada, the USA and 12 other countries around the world. His educational background includes a BA in History and Political Science at the University of Manitoba, a Master’s degree in Sociology at the University of Saskatchewan, and PhD studies in Organizational Development at York University in Toronto. 

Friday, 21 February 2014

How do we empower digital public servants?

by Chris Moore

Photo: Would you consider yourself a digital public servant? The public sector is currently in the midst of a digital revolution with many new and innovative means of communication. If you aren’t already, there are many different ways to become involved in this community. If you find yourself challenged by this task, the first step is to immerse yourself in the digitized world. Jumping in, immersing yourself, and supporting your own personal brand (among other tips) will help you on the way to becoming a digital public servant. Whether you are a digital newcomer, digital native, or hear yourself saying that you are simply too “busy” to engage with social media, visit the IPAC Impact Blog to join the conversation:

Three things you need to know about digital public servants:

1. We are experiencing a digital revolution.  In this revolution, public servants and citizens have access to new technology. We are at a nexus in the public service. There are citizens who expect traditional human to human interaction, and those who are looking for digital interaction.  Adding another dynamic, there is a wide spectrum of people serving the public. There are those who are digital natives (born into this digital world) and those who are digital newcomers (forced into the digital world).

2.  To understand digital media, you must immerse yourself in it.  Example, Twitter: Decide that there are ten or so people that you will follow, read their every tweet, understand who they are and what they are thinking. Do that for a month and you will understand Twitter. In my mind it is not the number of followers that matters, it is the quality of the people. The people I follow and the people that follow me are a choice. That is the great thing about Twitter and other social media tools-- it is an opt-in or opt-out world.

3.  10 Imperatives for social media.
            1)      Don’t be afraid - Jump IN - you no longer can control the message.
            2)      Immerse yourself.
            3)      Build community.
            4)      Embed #SocMed in your life/work.
            5)      Be one person online. This should be the same as who you are in person.   
            6)      Support your personal brand and your organization's brand.
            7)      Listen to the conversation.
            8)      Tell the story to your people so they see themselves in #socmed.
            9)      Provide tools, such as policies and directives.
          10)      Invite others to join you in the community and the conversation.

Three myths about digital public servants:

Myth #1: If you are a digital newcomer, you are at a disadvantage to digital natives.

The Reality: This is only true if you do not engage. Here is my advice for digital newcomers:

      1    -      Challenge yourself to be part of the digital age.
      2    -      Be the same person online that you are in your non-digital life.
      3    -      Listen first, then engage.
      4    -      Ask questions.
      5    -      Stay relevant.

Myth #2: Digital natives have lost the ability to communicate in person.

The Reality: Digital natives have not lost the ability to communicate in person, they have just grown up with a new medium of interaction.  Here is my advice for digital natives:                              
       1     -      Challenge yourself to take the perspective of the digital newcomer.
       2     -      Be the same person online that you are in your non-digital life.
       3     -      Be a guide in the new land for the newcomers.
       4     -      Bridge the gaps you see from your perspective.
       5     -      Balance human with digital interaction.

Myth #3: I am too busy to use social media.

The Reality: So many people I talk to feel that they don’t have time to spend on all these social media platforms; I encourage them to consider that it is not about time, it is about priorities. People who choose to make social media a priority are people who are building and growing relationships beyond traditional human interactions.

Chris Moore is the Chief Information Officer at the City of Edmonton.  He provides vision for, and leadership of, the City’s information and technology direction.  Chris partners with local and global organizations to foster Edmonton’s role as a technology leader. In addition to being a founding member of the World eGovernments Organization, he has spoken to audiences all over the world about his experience and ideas for technology in government.  Chris finds fulfillment and freedom in his work and as a leader he desires to see those around him attain fulfillment and freedom as well.  He is an advocate of an Open Ecosystem, Open Government and Open Data. Chris pushes his team to embrace innovation, pursue the possible and build a great city together.  @_Chris_Moore

Thursday, 13 February 2014

What role can provinces play in international relations?

by Christopher J. Kukucha

Three things you need to know about the provinces and international trade negotiations:

  1. CETA was not the first international trade negotiations involving Canadian provinces.  Provinces have been involved in the negotiation and implementation of foreign trade agreements dating back to the 1970s and the Tokyo Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).  CETA, however, was the first international negotiations to have Canadian provinces “in the room” with EU and Canadian negotiators.

  2. Provincial governments in Canada became important in negotiations due to the increasing intrusiveness of these agreements into areas of sub-federal jurisdiction.  Historically foreign trade negotiations focused solely on tariffs, which are the responsibility of the federal government in Canada.  The agenda soon expanded into areas of provincial responsibility, including services, health and safety standards, procurement, and labour mobility.

  3. Ottawa is motivated to include the provinces in negotiations due to concerns related to the implementation of these commitments.  Initially, the provinces were not heavily involved in GATT negotiations involving provincial areas of jurisdiction, but Ottawa was forced to expand this role almost immediately as Ontario failed to comply with international commitments related to the distribution and pricing of beer.    

Three myths about the provinces and international trade negotiations:

Myth #1: Ottawa is constitutionally obligated to include the provinces in international trade negotiations. 

The Reality: There are no provisions in the Canadian constitution focusing on the role of the provinces in Canadian foreign trade policy.  In fact, there is very little outlining federal responsibilities in this policy area, with only Sec. 132 of the British North America Act giving Ottawa the right to implement Dominion treaties.  

Myth # 2: Canada pushed the EU to include Canadian provinces in the CETA negotiations.  

The Reality: In fact, the opposite was true.  The EU was reluctant to proceed with talks on CETA due to the previous Canada-EU Trade and Investment Enhancement Agreement (TIEA).  From a European perspective, the provinces were directly to blame for the collapse of TIEA in 2006, even though provincial governments were not included until the very late stages of TIEA negotiations.

Myth #3: Canada is committed to the same technical language for provincial areas of jurisdiction in all internal and international trade agreements.  

The Reality: Most international trade agreements contain similar commitments for provincial governments but others vary.  Added to this are a number of internal trade agreements such as the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), the Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA), and the Ontario-Qu├ębec Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).  The proliferation of trade agreements has the potential to create a “spaghetti bowl” of governance, with a tangled labyrinth of rules and norms that are not always complimentary.

Christopher J. Kukucha is a professor at the University of Lethbridge.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of Alberta and his M.A. from the University of Windsor.  He is a co-editor, with Duane Bratt, of Readings in Canadian Foreign Policy: Classic Debates and New Ideas (Oxford University Press, 2011).  He is also the author of The Provinces and Canadian Foreign Trade Policy (UBC Press, 2008).  In 2007, Chris served as the William J. Fulbright Research Chair in Canadian Studies at the State University of New York (Plattsburgh).  He is the past President of the International Studies Association of Canada and a former book review editor for the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal.  His primary teaching and research areas include Canadian foreign policy, international political economy, international relations theory, and Canada’s global trade relations.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Are PhDs Too Smart or Too Slow for Government?

by Jared Wesley

Are you interested in exploring this issue further?  Register to attend an upcoming event co-hosted by the Institute of Public Administration Canada (IPAC) and CAPS: Your UofA Career Centre Are PhDs Too Smart or Too Slow for Government?  Myths About Careers in the Public SectorMarch 19, 2014 at the University of Alberta.

Three Things to Know About PhDs in the Public Service:

    1.  The public sector is by no means the career route of choice for PhDs.
Research is spotty to say the least, but according to available surveys, fewer than 1 in 10 PhD students have plans to enter the world of government after graduation.  Compared to the more than half that end up teaching or working in universities, only one-in-five secure jobs in the health care and social assistance (13%) or public administration (7%). This number was slightly higher for doctorate-earners in the life sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and lower for those with degrees in engineering.

    2.  At the same time, many PhD graduates feel disillusioned with the prospects of a traditional academic career path.  The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) captured this sentiment in their 2013 report, So You Want to Earn a PhD?:

Of those Ontario doctoral graduates interested in pursuing non-faculty careers, 29 per cent believed they could make more money or that they would have better job opportunities outside academia (Desjardins, 2012), 44 per cent preferred clinical or practical work, and 43 per cent wanted to do research but were not interested in teaching (Desjardins, 2012). Many other PhDs feel that they have no other option but to pursue the academic track. This may stem from the fact that academia is all they are familiar with or from the belief that they may not possess the skills to do much else. Therefore, many get stuck on the elusive tenure-track search indefinitely. Yet every year out of the doctorate, job seekers are up against more and more recent graduates from Canadian and foreign universities, and even some individuals who have already secured a tenure-track position and decide to re-apply in search of a position that is closer to home or at a more prestigious institution.

    3.  Doctoral programs are improving in their attempts to educate PhD students about alternative career paths.  But there’s much work to be done.  Many students are actively pursuing alt-ac career paths, but are finding few resources and little support.  As one PhD student put it, “I feel
like there’s a sense of resistance to promote [public sphere work opportunities] to PhD students. Even just having a conversation about working outside academia is a hard conversation to have. It’s something you just don’t talk about and I think it’s on the part of both students and professors who are in the department…” The HEQCO Report went on:  The sentiment that becoming a university professor is the only path after graduation is perhaps a symptom of the very academic nature of the time spent in graduate school for many students, especially those in the social sciences and humanities – writing and trying to publish academic papers, presenting at academic conferences, much of it theoretical work with limited or indirect practical application. While many students are taking part in engaged research and interacting with individuals outside the university as part of their studies (conducting interviews, for instance), they are not familiar with how to communicate the skills that they have acquired through these activities to employers outside of the academic realm. The narrow focus of a literal “apprenticeship” to become a professor, combined with little contact with the world outside of academia, leaves little question why many PhD graduates feel at a loss after graduation, especially once they decide to pursue a non-academic path.

Three Myths about PhDs in the Public Service:

Myth #1: PhDs have two career paths – to the hallowed halls of the ivory tower or to the trenches of private sector.

Reality:  Research suggests that fewer than one-in-five PhD graduates land a much-coveted academic position, and an even lower proportion secure space on the ever-narrowing tenure-track.  Much is made about the lack of private sector jobs for PhD grads in Canada compared to the United States.  This has led to the misperception that Canada may be producing too many PhD graduates, when, in fact, other sectors (including government) should be doing more to tap the growing talent pool.

Myth #2: Entering the public sector means “professionalizing” (read: de-academizing) your degree.

Reality:  PhD students acquire a whole host of marketable skills in the course of a traditional doctoral program.  These extend beyond research and writing skills to include policy analysis and evaluation, team-building and collaboration, teaching and presenting, grant-writing and budget-management, supervising and directing, and many more.   While some faculties and departments are exploring ways of formally professionalizing PhD programs by adding internships, or even developing stand-alone professional doctorate programs, this need not (and should not) mean displacing “academic” components of the degree. 

Myth #3: A PhD is a golden ticket to a cushy government job in upper management.

Reality: Competition for jobs in today’s public sector workforce is as tight as it is in the private sector.  Whereas PhD graduates may have been able to ‘walk into’ executive positions straight out of graduate school in decades past, those hiring in today’s public service look for both knowledge and experience.  While a PhD degree does count as “government experience” in some jurisdictions (e.g., it counts for four years’ worth with the Government of Alberta), doctorate-holders should be prepared to enter the public service at a senior policy / junior management level and aim to earn experience to gain promotion.

Jared Wesley (PhD Calgary) serves as Director of Social Policy for the Government of Alberta’s Ministry of International and Intergovernmental Relations, adjunct professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta, adjunct professor of Political Studies at the University of Manitoba, and Academic Chair of the Institute for Public Administration Canada (IPAC), Edmonton Regional Group. Find him on LinkedIn, Twitter (@ipracademic), and Flipboard.