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The Beginnings

The Department of Government was created in the University of the West Indies fifty years ago with a full-time staff of four: Professor Brian Chapman, on secondment from the United Kingdom's University of Manchester, as Head and Director of Training in Public Administration, Francis Mark moving from the Department of Economics, where he had been teaching Politics and Political Institutions, Ogilvie Buchan (Scotland) Political Theorist, and Gladstone Mills (Jamaica), recruited from the senior civil service as Associate Director of Training in Public Administration . This small staff was supported by a group of distinguished part-time lecturers, which included G. Arthur Brown at that time Director of the Central Planning Unit and Dr. Gladstone Bonnick (teaching Public Finance), Dr. Lloyd Barnett and H. D. Carberry (Law) Simultaneously, the year 1960 also saw the establishment of the Faculty of Social Sciences with Departments of Economics and Government and the older Institute of Social and Economic Research; and Sociology joining in 1961. The Department began by offering two programmes: a group of courses constituting Government as a subject specialization in the B.Sc., Economics degree and a one year Diploma in Public Administration designed for administrative official personnel within the public sector. In addition, optional courses in Politics and Public Administration were added to the B.A. Programme.

An Era of Development

From these beginnings, the Department moved to the mounting of a Master's programme in 1964-65, and by 1971, a hierarchy of programmes had been established: from the Certificate level, the CPA, through undergraduate BSc. of degrees (in separate specialized areas: Political Science, Public Administration and International Relations), to the DPA, MSc. and Ph.D. The first MSc. was awarded (Course work & Thesis in Public Administration) in 1965 (Harold Lutchman) and Ph.D. (International Relations) in 1972. One of the most far-reaching developments was the extension of the CPA to non-campus countries in 1983 in an outreach dimension. This has enabled a larger number of junior public officials in all the contributing countries to be exposed to education and training in Public Administration and associated subjects at home.

Incredibly, most of these developments occurred during the decade of the 1960s despite considerable instability in staffing of the Department; members who functioned within a turbulent environment, which involved protests within and outside of the University against the Jamaica: Government's "exclusion", of Walter Rodney and shortly after, of Clive Thomas. Throughout that period the Department experienced the arrival and departure of professors and lecturers whose contracts were terminated for one reason or another, leaving Mills as Acting (1963-65) and later, Head (1965-'80).

From its inception the Department benefited significantly from external aid-the donors: the Carnegie Corporation, Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, Canadian and U.S.A.I.D, the United Kingdom's Inter - University Council However, in order to ensure its further development and to sustain this, especially in light of the` experience of instability during the early years, we considered it essential to create a capacity for institution building.

Institution Building

The process was initiated via a link arrangement with the counterpart department, the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom (from 1964 to '77), which involved a two-way flow of graduates for Ph.D. studies on Caribbean topics, and a limited staff exchange scheme. This very successful arrangement was strengthened by also maintaining continuous contact with other outstanding graduates who were studying at Michigan, Yale and Oxford with a view to recruiting them for one of the University of the West Indies campuses. Hence, by the early 1980s the Department Heads on all the campuses (and the University of Guyana) and by the mid-`80s, all the Deans of Social Sciences were Mona Government graduates.

The foregoing was contributed by Professor Charles Mills, one of the Department's early Heads and leading intellectuals. Since Professor Mills' retirement, the Department has had a succession of Heads, including Professors Trevor Munroe, Rupert Lewis, Brian Meeks and Stephen Vasciannie. The current Head is Dr. Jessica Byron.

Professor Mills' historical reflections moved from the Department's beginnings to the 1980s. The latter decade featured the work of Carl Stone. In the 1980s, there was the presence and prolific output in the Department from Carl Stone, Professor of Political Sociology who did pioneering work on values, attitudes and political culture in Jamaica. His books and public opinion surveys  left an invaluable intellectual legacy which is still drawn on to understand and interpret contemporary society almost twenty years after his death in 1993. He continues to inspire subsequent generations of political researchers. Through the work of Trevor Munroe and many others, the Department established a tradition of public scholarship and of making contributions to many areas of public debate through the print, radio and television media.

The 1990s witnessed a considerable expansion of student numbers, particularly in the International Relations programme with a surge of interest in globalization and its implications for Caribbean societies. Ultimately, expansion in student numbers would also imply an increase in staff and the mid-1990s marked the arrival of numerous new colleagues including Alison Anderson, Anthony Bogues, Jessica Byron, Anthony Harriott, Clinton Hutton, John Rapley and Stephen Vasciannie. Semesterization, a changing political and economic environment both within and outside the academy and the research interests of staff members all combined to shape new courses and programmes. The M.Sc. Government programme was reconfigured in the late 1990s and now caters for three areas of specialization, in Political Theory and Comparative Politics, International Relations and Public Sector Management.  The undergraduate programmes, already consolidated into majors in Political Science, International Relations and Public Sector Management, expanded by the end of the decade to include a major in the Politics of Africa and the African Diaspora and a minor in Criminology offered jointly by the Department of Government and the Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work. Other innovations included a growing focus on student internships in both the undergraduate and graduate programmes, student conferences, negotiations simulations and other practical approaches to learning.

A curriculum review in 1998 stimulated numerous new courses particularly in International Relations and in Public Sector Management. Also in the 1990s, John Rapley took the initiative of developing a series of international student exchanges that gradually evolved into agreements and working relationships with several partner universities. At present, the Department’s principal international programme is a jointly taught B.Sc/M.Sc. programme in Politics and International Cooperation that involves the UWI, the Institut d’Etudes Politiques of the University of Bordeaux and the Universite Antilles-Guyane. Originally the brainchild of former FSS Dean Professor Barry Chevannes and some French colleagues, this programme was launched in 2007 and anchored in the Department of Government. It annually recruits a small number of students with good GPAs and strong proficiency in French who spend five years studying in France, Martinique and UWI Mona. Two groups of students have now completed their Master’s degrees in the tripartite programme.

As the Department expanded its cohort of specialists in Political Science Research methods in the 21st century under the guidance of Larry Powell, its research methods programme at both the graduate and undergraduate levels became more structured and much more diverse in the range of offerings. The most recent curriculum revisions have been mainly in the area of Public Sector Management, fuelled by the global and local rethinking of the role of the state and the reconfiguration of the public sector. New course offerings continue to be shaped also by the recruitment of staff and of graduate research students. These two elements determine the new areas of specialization and research interests which flow into the Department at any given time. Some examples include Local Government, ICTs and Governance, Crime, Violence, Security and Restorative Justice in the Caribbean,  Politics and the Media, Sports and Politics, Ethnicity and the State, the Caribbean Diaspora, Politics and Caribbean Art and Music,  just to name a few.  Curriculum review in the Department is ongoing and is the subject of lively debates. It takes place in response to the dynamics of the external environment and the interests of the university’s many stakeholders and is also influenced by a generational turnover of academic staff. Between 2007 and 2012, the Department of Government witnessed the retirement of stalwarts like Professors Edwin Jones and Trevor Munroe and Dr. Hedy Isaacs, the shifts to new leadership positions of others like Professors Harriott, Vasciannie and Meeks and the departure of other staff members for new locations. The academic community and the intellectual environment are characterized by considerable fluidity and the department is in a phase characterized by the preparation of a new generation of academics.

As the Department of Government turned the corner into a new millennium it acquired two additional significant dimensions. In 2001, the Centre for Caribbean Thought (CCT) was founded by Professors Anthony Bogues, Brian Meeks and Rupert Lewis with the objective of focusing research on original Caribbean thought. For more than a decade, the CCT has held  seminars, colloquia and annual conferences at Mona, Cave Hill and St. Augustine as well as further afield. These have attracted wide-ranging participation and they have stimulated research and reflection on the work of Stewart Hall, M.G. Smith, George Lamming, Sylvia Winter, G.K. Lewis, the New World Group of scholars and many others. The efforts of the CCT colleagues have resulted in numerous publications and the reintroduction of the present generation of students to an impressive range of Caribbean social and political thinkers who echo one another’s concerns about identity, freedom and self realization across the region’s linguistic boundaries. The CCT has also operated an exchange programme for graduate students which has facilitated academic exchanges among UWI Mona, Brown University in the USA and the University of Cape Town in South Africa. The Centre for Leadership and Governance was launched in 2005 by Professor Trevor Munroe and his major collaborators have included Anthony Harriott, Larry Powell and Lloyd Waller. This Centre focuses its activities on public policy and development issues. Its many projects have included coordinating successive LAPOP surveys on the political culture of democracy in Jamaica, providing numerous internships for graduate students as parliamentary researchers or as public opinion pollsters, campaigns against corruption in public life and executing short term policy-oriented research studies.

The Department has maintained a small M.Phil/PhD programme throughout its existence. While the taught M.Sc. programmes generally have a registration of approximately 100 – 150 students, the M.Phil/ Ph.D group generally averages about 15 students. Over the last decade, the department has graduated 3 PhDs and 246 M.Phils. in Government. This is a source of great satisfaction. At least six of the current academic staff are the products of the Department of Government’s PhD programme. They include Professor Lewis, Drs. Cummings, Hutton, Schoburgh and Thame. Likewise we are proud that a number of our graduates have won Commonwealth, Chevening, Fulbright, Rhodes and other scholarships and have distinguished themselves as they further their studies internationally. In more recent years, some of our graduates are pursuing programmes in China and in Japan. The contemporary staff demonstrates the successful recruitment of several graduates who completed their doctoral work further afield. They include Drs Lloyd Waller, Suzette Haughton, Jermaine McCalpin and Dhanaraj Thakur.

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