Chicago Harris Signs Exchange Agreement with University College Dublin

Chicago Harris will exchange faculty, students, research and ideas about public policy with the Geary Institute at the University College Dublin’s College of Human Sciences, under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by officials from both schools during a ceremony at the University of Chicago on April 22.

The MOU represents the latest in a long line of Chicago Harris’ international partnerships, including collaborations with institutions in Turkey, Brazil, China, Mexico, Israel, Chile and South Korea.

“We’re really looking forward to this partnership with the University College Dublin,” said University of Chicago Provost Eric Isaacs at the signing. “Dublin is an important place where exciting things are happening. … This memorandum of understanding is a way to codify our desire to do scholarship as well as implementation of policy.”

“I want to express my confidence that this will be a robust and vibrant partnership between University College Dublin and Chicago Harris,” added Dan Allen, senior associate dean at Harris.

The partnership agreement, which runs through August of 2017, will include:

  • master classes co-hosted by Chicago Harris and the Geary Institute, in which Chicago Harris faculty members will address senior civil and public servants;
  • a cooperative combined degree program in which Chicago Harris graduates continue on to University College Dublin’s program for a second master’s degree, and vice versa;
  • faculty and graduate student research exchanges of up to a year, to promote mutual understanding of economic policy; 
  • and a two-way internship exchange through which students at each institution can participate in internships arranged by the other.

Colm O’Muircheartaigh, a University College Dublin alumnus and professor and former dean at Harris, noted that the two universities have been moving in the same direction, bringing data and statistics together with political and social context. “We understand better the need to research and teach at the intersection of policy and methodology,” he said. “This agreement will facilitate a synergistic collaboration between the two institutions.”

Andrew Deeks, president of University College Dublin, illustrated the sorts of policy idea exchanges that will take place between scholars from the two nations in an address during the ceremony. Deeks compared and contrasted systems for funding university tuition in the U.S., Ireland and his native Australia. He talked about how these systems have changed over time, prompting the question of who should pay for a service that benefits both an individual and society as a whole.

Australia once had a system where society footed the entire bill, but it became unsustainable, said Deeks. In the U.S., colleges can charge whatever the market will bear, and it’s often private institutions themselves rather than the government that redistribute funds to students who don’t have the means to pay themselves, he explained. In Ireland the government officially funds the entire cost of education, but students have been paying a higher and higher “administrative charge,” now set at 3,000 euros, Deeks said.

Ultimately, there’s no single right answer for every country and every situation, Deeks concluded. “You have to find a good balance.”

The MOU represents both schools’ desires to integrate their work with other disciplines and with the policy worlds of both countries, said O’Muircheartaigh, pointing out that the U.S. and Europe have somewhat different political philosophies. For example, in the healthcare sector, the U.S. remains driven more by markets, whereas European countries are driven more by central provision and regulation, he explained. “It certainly helps you to think about the [policy] possibilities if you’re exposed to both [systems] rather than one,” O’Muircheartaigh said.

Colin Scott, professor and college principal at University College Dublin’s College of Social Sciences and Law, recalled that O’Muircheartaigh was a member of the selection committee that appointed him to his initial position at the law department of the London School of Economics.

“We’ve been immensely pleased with the UCD-Chicago Harris relationship to date,” said Scott, noting that Harris faculty members already had taught a master class in Dublin in 2012, which had been an early step towards the MOU. “I look forward to developing our relationship and taking it further.”

—Ed Finkel