Researching Policy Goods for Australia’s Northern Regions
A ‘policy good’ is an idea that arises out of John Dewey’s writings. It imagines those who are the subject of policy, and subject to it, as in some sense needing to have the capacity to choose those policies.
To paraphrase Dewey who developed these ideas when he was working in early twentieth century Chicago immigrant communities with women like Jane Addams: “A good that individuals cannot self-consciously recognize and pursue for themselves is not a good. Humanity cannot be content with a good that is procured from without, however high and otherwise complete that good might be. Humans cannot be forced to be free. A society where good outcomes are given is not one to be preferred to one in which those goods are the result of participation… To foster conditions that widen the horizon of others and give them command of their own powers... is the way of informed social action (aka ‘policy’), otherwise the prayer of those subject to and of policy would be to be left alone, and to be delivered above all from reformers and other kind people.”
About Helen Verran
Professor Helen Verran is a Senior Research Fellow at the Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University. Beginning her career as a natural scientist, her focus shifted towards the philosophy and sociology of science in the early 1980’s. At this time she began to draw on her experiences of teaching maths in Nigeria to elaborate a new philosophy of number able to work with radical differences in Western and Nigerian number. From the late 1980s until 2012 she taught history and philosophy of science at University of Melbourne. During that time her research focus involved working with Yolngu Aboriginal Australians in Arnhem Land as they endeavoured to engage with science and scientists. These days Helen splits her time between Australia and Northern Norway pursuing interests in policy and politics in the areas of environmentalism and indigeneity. Employed as a visiting professor in the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education, University of Tromsø, (Norwegian University of the Arctic) Helen delivers lectures to students enrolled in Saami studies and peace studies and currently supervises Saami post graduate students from the Saami University.
Contact person: Katrina Britnell
T: +61 8 8946 6838
Location: Charles Darwin University (Casuarina Campus), Northern Institute, Yellow Building 1, Level 2, Room 48