Helen Ingram, professor emeritus for the Department of Urban Planning and Public Policy at University of California, Irvine, will deliver a talk, “Public Policy and Democracy: The Wounded Elephant in the Corner,” from 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2 in the Student Union Building Berqquist Lounge. This event is free and hosted by the School of Public Service.
Ingram is a nationally lauded professor and author whose research has delved into transboundary natural resources (such as rivers) particularly on the U.S./Mexican border; water resources and equity; public policy design and implementation; and the impact of policy upon democracy and public participation.
Below, Ingram answers three quick questions about her work:
Q: We’re at a cocktail party. How do you describe your research?
A: Democracy is in trouble, and I think that public policy is part of the cause. Instead of enlightening, empowering and engaging citizens policies increasingly benefits some people over others, depend on stigma and stereotypes and emotional appeals over reasoned discussion.
Q: You liken modern-day governance to the fluidity of water. You also say that we must redefine what water is to society. What do you mean by that?
A: Water is a multifaceted issue that has a strong relationship to place.
Q: Bureaucracies are the backbone of democratic governance, yet it seems people are losing faith in their ability to govern – locally and nationally. What can loyal bureaucrats do to change public perception?
A: People have lost their faith in experts, including especially those in government agencies. If we are to respond effectively to public problems like climate change and water scarcity, we must recruit and support government scientists and managers.