Dr. Loleen Berdahl, incoming executive director, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy

Saskatchewan universities appoint new executive director for provincial policy school

Dr. Loleen Berdahl (PhD) has been appointed as the new executive director of the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, effective October 1, 2020.

By Erica Schindel

Saskatoon—The University of Saskatchewan (USask) and University of Regina are pleased to announce the five-year appointment of Dr. Loleen Berdahl as the new executive director of the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS), effective October 1, 2020.

“Loleen is an outstanding appointment and we are very fortunate to have her join the school and provide leadership for the next 5 years,” says Doug Moen, outgoing JSGS executive director. “Her commitment to her academic research, teaching, and student, staff and faculty mentorship is greatly admired by all within the school.”

Moen will resume his position as director of the school’s executive education unit on October 1.

With a strong background in both educational leadership and policy research, Dr. Berdahl previously served as department head in Political Studies at USask from 2016-2020. During this time, she led her department through a period of significant renewal and revitalization, with the hiring of six faculty positions and the promotion of four faculty members. She also led the introduction of the Certificate in Indigenous Governance and Politics and the Certificate in Politics and Law, the expansion of the Certificate in Global Studies, the online development of the Political Studies BA, and the adoption of the First Year Research Experience (FYRE) program across the department.

“It is an honour to be appointed to lead the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy during such a pivotal time,” says Berdahl. “As societies and governments work to address both new and longstanding challenges, strong public policy research and exceptional training of current and future public policy practitioners and leaders are critical. JSGS has an impressive foundation of academic programs, cross-sector relationships, and research excellence. I look forward to working with JSGS students, faculty, staff, and executives-in-residence to maximize the school’s impact and contributions in the years ahead.”

With a PhD from the University of Calgary, Dr. Berdahl began her career working for the Canada West Foundation for ten years.

“My decade working in applied policy research taught me the importance of government and public relations in public policy,” says Berdahl. “Time invested developing relationships and understanding various viewpoints is critical for developing partnerships and working collaboratively to find effective solutions. As JSGS Executive Director, I am particularly excited to continue building strong connections between JSGS and governments, communities, and industry.”

Her time spent in a policy-related work environment inspired her commitment to help students recognize and develop career-relevant skills that employers and society need. It has also guided her SSHRC-funded research on career skills training in graduate education. In addition to her SSHRC project, Dr. Berdahl also examines how institutional, cultural, and political factors shape individual attitudes and collaborative decision-making practices, with a focus on public attitudes regarding Canadian public policy, federalism, and regionalism.  

Beyond her extensive research program, Dr. Berdahl is the recipient of four teaching awards, including her discipline’s national teaching honour, the Canadian Political Science Association’s Teaching Excellence Award. She is also currently a Faculty Fellow with the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning, and her Graduate Transformative Skills project will inform the redesign of graduate career skill training programs at USask.

“JSGS has a unique role, synthesizing policy research, teaching, and government and community relations, and doing so from two universities,” says Berdahl. “Its future is exciting, and I look forward to working with the JSGS community to advance policy research and training.”

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