Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS) Ph.D. in Public Policy graduate, Jennifer Budney, has received the University of Saskatchewan Graduate Thesis Award in the Social Sciences, announced at Spring Convocation.
She was recognized for her outstanding research achievement in looking at how the policies and practices of public art museums affect innovation, particularly the museum's engagement with culturally and economically diverse audiences. Budney also received the Association for Non-profit and Social Economy Research 2018 Doctoral Thesis Award for her research presented at Congress 2018 in May.
“I worked in the arts for many years, but I have always been interested in larger questions of institutional arrangements,” said Budney. “I wondered who was being served by public organizations and publicly funded programs, and how culture informs institutional norms.”
The arts have played a large role in Budney’s professional and academic career – her Master’s degree explored the ways in which white gatekeepers to Brazil's contemporary arts organizations justified the complete exclusion of Afro-Brazilian artists from that system. After living in Saskatoon and working as a curator at the Mendel Art Gallery, Budney was inspired to pursue a Ph.D. in Public Policy.
“I was witnessing a lot of what I now call 'public value failures' by art museums, and I wanted to better understand why these institutions seem unable to adapt to its changing environment to better serve the public,” said Budney.
Budney recalls feeling fortunate to have the Ph.D. program at the JSGS and has found this endeavor to be the most intellectually rewarding thing she's done to date.
"I was nervous coming into this program from the arts, though I have discovered that my background in arts was an advantage," said Budney. "I realized that my training in the arts gave me all the critical thinking skills I needed to do well at the JSGS, along with my knowledge in a wide variety of fields.”
JSGS Director, Murray Fulton, supervised Budney’s research during her Ph.D. He commends her on her award and is pleased that she is a representative of the significant policy work being done at the JSGS.
“Jen’s thesis provides a rich and multi-faceted examination of the inability of art museums to change to represent the profile of the Canadian population and to create public value,” says Fulton. “It is a remarkable application of organizational and institutional analysis to democratic outcomes.”
As the University of Saskatchewan Spring Convocation has come and gone, Budney continues to do what interests her – researching, writing, and teaching on issues related to public policy. She is currently doing work as a Post-Doctoral Fellow with the JSGS' Centre for the Study of Co-operatives and hopes to use this next year to release more publications and conduct research related to the social economy.
On June 5, Jennifer Budney, along with one other Ph.D. in Public Policy, 22 Master of Public Administration, five Master of Public Policy, and three MNGD graduates, joined over 800 JSGS alumni worldwide at the University of Saskatchewan’s Spring Convocation. The following day, on June 6, 20 MPA, 19 Master of Health Administration, and 15 Master’s Certificate crossed the stage at the University of Regina’s Spring Convocation.