Interview with political scientist Bruno Dente, professor in the analysis of public policies at the Politecnico di Milano and the UAB's most recent honorary doctor, in which he talks about the discredit of politics, migration of people in Europe and populist parties.
Political scientist Bruno Dente receives an honorary doctorate award from the UAB
On 7 October, the UAB awarded an honorary doctorate to Italian political expert Bruno Dente after being proposed for the award by the Faculty of Political Science and Sociology, a centre he has collaborated with since 1985. Dente is considered one of the world's most renowned analysts of public policies and administrations.
"Trying to solve political problems by simplifying them in such a drastic manner is stupid and dangerous. All possible solutions we may reach will only be partial. And this complexity of modern societies should not be something we need to fear".
Bruno Dente, professor in the analysis of public policies at the Politecnico di Milano, was awarded an honorary doctorate by the UAB in a ceremony which took place on 7 October. The ceremony also marked the official opening of the academic year at the faculty and took place at noon at the faculty's conference hall.
The ceremony was presided by UAB Rector Margarita Arboix and Faculty Dean Laura Feliu, alongside Xavier Ballart, Director of the Department of Political Science and Public Law.
A "Practical Theorist"
Dente was sponsored by Joan Subirats, Professor of the Department of Political Science and Public Law. His laudatio speech remarked the merits of Dente which made him the perfect candidate for the honorary doctorate. "We are in the presence of a true university man, who has never stopped thinking in applied terms", Joan Subirats said, while he also considered that "the years of experience of Bruno Dente takes us to precise knowledge, which seeks analytical capacity without ignoring the contrast between actors and values". For Professor Subirats, Bruno Dente "cannot understand teaching about public policies from a perspective which does not include an inductive outlook, based on the analysis of specific cases... a way of doing that forces you to always relate theory with practice". He ended his speech recalling that "today we are paying a well-deserved homage to whom I believe is proud of considering himself a practical theorist".
Humbleness and Patience When Faced with Complexity
Upon receiving the award, Professor Dente gave his acceptance speech in English, with a title that referred to the Jean-Luc Godard film "Public Policy Analysis: Deux ou Troix Choses que Je Sais d'Elle", although he not only brilliantly dismantled two or three arguments, but many more.
"Our job should be useful to those in charge, whether that be politicians, civil servants of the defenders of public policies. Our work should help them manage the process in a way that can help them reach their objectives" and "better face the complexity of the political process", he said.
This idea of "the complexity of politics" was a constant in his speech, which he ended with: "Trying to solve political problems by simplifying them in such a drastic manner is stupid and dangerous. In today's world in which populist leaders base their messages on gaining popularity by promising miraculous solutions, I wish to remind the students of political science the words of Jacob Burckhardt: "these ruffians... who one day will abandon old Europe".
The more general lesson we can learn from the practice of public policy analysis is that "it teaches us to be humble and patient", he said. And he added that "all possible solutions we may reach will only be partial. And this complexity of modern societies should not be something we need to fear".
A Breath of Fresh Air
Following, Dean Laura Feliu praised the work of Professor Dente and highlighted his participation in creating the Faculty of Political Science. She pointed out that he was the third honorary doctor proposed by the faculty since it was founded. Dean Feliu also explained some of the ideas he had for the university, one of the areas into which Professor Dente has researched.
Finally, Rector Margarita Arboix stated that "it is an honour for the UAB to award this honorary doctorate to Bruno Dente". She explained the complexity of today's society which lives in a rich and diverse democracy. "This award brings a breath of fresh air with it", she said in reference to Professor Dente's clear and solid defence of democratic public institutions.
In addition to former rectors of the UAB Josep Maria Vallès and Ramon Pascual, the awards ceremony and inauguration of the academic year was attended by several politicians such as the mayors of Cerdanyola del Vallès and Barberà del Vallès and other town councillors.
Academic and Consultant to Institutions
Dente is considered one of the most important experts in the analysis of public policies and public administrations, particularly in the administration and evaluation of university systems. His academic career has taken him to many Italian universities (in addition to the Politecnico di Milano, he has lectured at Sassari, Bologna, Rome and Venice) and he also was director of the Specialisation School for Public Administration Studies in Rome, as well as advisor to Italian ministries. He also drew up several evaluation plans for the European Commission.
Dente has also maintained a strong relationship with the UAB Faculty of Political Science and Sociology since 1985, collaborating in the start of the faculty and working both as a lecturer and researcher. He has collaborated in projects such as the creation of the undergraduate degree programme in Political Science, the degree in Political Science and Public Administration and the master's degree in Public Administration.
Among his most outstanding works are Il Governo Locale in Europa (1977), Governare la frammentazione: stato, regioni ed enti locali in Italia (1985) and Understanding Policy Decisions (2014; Spanish edition co-written with Joan Subirats), as well as numerous articles in journals. In 2012, her received the "Precursor to Evaluation in Italy" Award from the Italian Evaluation Society.
The UAB Chamber Choir offered performances of Secrets of Cosmos (music by Poire Vallvé and text by Lisa Randall) and Vuelie (by Frode Fjellheim and Christophe Beck, with arrangements by Mia Wright).
As part of the faculty's inauguration, the Social Sciences Library offers an exhibition on display at the library entrance, as well as a virtual exhibition containing the scientific production of Professor Dente. Click here to view the virtual exhibition.
Faculty of Political Science and Sociology