Sunday, 27 March 2011

Lobbying and government relations in the public sphere

The University of Greenwich is part of an Erasmus Intensive Programme (IP) submission providing Masters students in PR and communications the opportunity to research and study government relations and public lobbying in the European public sphere over an intensive two week period.  If successful and the decision will be known in the summer from the EU, then Masters students from Greenwich and six other European universities running Masters programmes in public relations/communications will be participating in a joint programme based in Louvain, Gent and Brussels for two weeks in March 2012.  The programme along with a programme of lectures and seminars includes visits and workshops with industry/NGO and EU participation  across a range of current lobbying and government relations agendas.  The programme will be repeated in 2013 and 2014.   It will be the first ever Erasmus IP with a public relations focus.

                             European Commission, Brussels. (Photo courtesy of: Financial Regulation.)

 The programme will be exploring issues around public diplomacy, agenda setting in publiic, legitimacy and transparency in lobbying and government relations based on a public sphere model of practice. Traditionally lobbying and government relations has been seen (and is to varying degrees in practice) an activity taking place behind closed doors.  The EU, as its White Paper on communications (2006) highlights, is moving towards a public sphere model of communications, supported by growing transparency legislation, and the influence of social media, so this tension at the heart of lobbying and government relations in the EU makes the relevance of this programme proposal strongly.  Recent coverage of MEPs resigning over payments for lobbying further strengthens the case for the Erasmus IP programme and for greater research and consideration of practices in the sector.

The programme is being led by the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium with strong support from the Artevelde University College of Ghent. The other universities involved include: University of Nancy 2 in France; University of Bucharest in Romania; University Cardinal Herrera in Valencia, Spain; INP in Lisbon, Portugal; and University of Greenwich, London, UK.   The Erasmus IP proposal is a tribute to the hard work of the MARPE network of PR universities and in particular Anne-Marie Cotton at Artevelde University College Ghent.

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