Third best in the world in public administration

The Department of Political Science at Aarhus BSS offers world-class research within several areas including public administration. On the Shanghai Ranking, which lists the world’s top research institutions, the department is now ranked as number three in the world in the field of public administration and number three in Europe in the field of political science.

2018.08.15 | Ingrid Marie Fossum

Third best in the world in public administration Photo:

Peter Munk Christiansen Photo: AU Photo / Lars Kruse

Vibeke Lehmann Nielsen Photo: Aarhus BSS Communication


“We are 100 percent committed to quality and this excellent placement is the result of many year’s efforts to ensure that we offer research and degree programmes of a very high quality,” says a proud head of department Peter Munk Christensen. 

The newly published Shanghai Ranking lists Aarhus University as number three in the world within public administration only surpassed by the London School of Economics and Political Science and Erasmus University Rotterdam - and thus ahead of giants such as Harvard University and the University of Oxford.

In the field of political science, Aarhus University is ranked as number three in Europe and number 19 in the world. In the Shanghai Ranking, universities are evaluated on their research output, research quality, the degree of international collaboration, and whether the research is of the highest quality and recognised at a high academic level.

“Research is by nature an international endeavour, and thus we need to measure ourselves against the best research institutions in the world. You can’t learn to run fast if you don’t train with the best runners in the world, and that’s what we are doing here,” says Peter Munk Christiansen.

The department collaborates extensively and on many levels with international peers and increasingly recruits internationally.  In addition, many researchers from Aarhus go on extended stays abroad and participate in the best conferences in the world.

Section chair of public administration and management Vibeke Lehmann Nielsen adds:

“The many international collaborations contribute to elevating the level of our research. I’m talking about proper collaborations where the international researchers contribute to writing the projects and exploring the issues.”

Good at improving each other

Nielsen also emphasises that the excellent research environment found at the department and in the section is the reason for the impressive placement on the Shanghai Ranking.

“Research is all about critisising in order to improve. At the department and in the section, we all have a basic understanding of each other’s research and offer a lot of constructive critisism in order to improve the research. Our good collegial atmosphere is very important as it means that we are willing to spend time on each other and contribute to each other’s research.

She adds that the department is consistently working to improve itself by recruiting talented PhD students and others who can keep the pot boiling and also secure large research grants. In Denmark, researchers also have a unique access to data and the possibility of engaging in dialogue with public servants. This may also contribute to the top international level of the research conducted in Aarhus. Nielsen also expects that the establishment of the Crown Prince Frederik Center for Public Leadership will contribute to ensuring that the department can maintain its excellent international position.

“We have a really good name in Europe and the US. Now we can firmly state that we are a department that is doing well. The danger is that we become complacent, but we do have a right to be proud of ourselves,” says Christensen with a smile.

“I can’t help feeling proud of being head of a department that is doing so well on an international level,” he concludes.

Further information
Head of Department Peter Munk Christiansen, professor of political science
Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University
+45 8716 5685 / +45 3011 5340