SPPUA in Action | Summer 2016
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Dear Friends,

We live in an era of rapidly changing social, economic and environmental conditions in which the delivery of timely, evidence-based policy-focused research and advice are ever more important. New models are evolving of how knowledge is created and shared, and how local insights and experiences transform the conditions in which people experience and shape their lives. With more than half of the world’s population living in cities, much of the research and its applications will need to embrace urban affairs in both its local and global dimensions.
These changes require new models of how research, education and engagement are conducted. Academic reflections on contemporary social and political developments, traditional classroom instruction, and unidirectional policy advice to decision makers have lost their effectiveness, assuming they ever had the impact their protagonists desired. Rather, seamless integration of research, education and engagement that advances scientific knowledge through the generation and sharing of local experiences and expertise for lasting impact at local to global scales are the name of the game. Being able to harness the powers of new data, computer-based modeling, analysis and visualization are important prerequisites to play that game. But so is an understanding – formed by rigorous training – of how people and institutions behave, and how these behaviors are shaped, and shape, the legal, social, economic and environmental parameters for action.
Ten years of strategic hiring of top academic talent, careful crafting of innovative educational programs, and systematic collaborations with partners in the public, private and nonprofit sectors uniquely position the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs to play a transformative role in research, learning and practice. Over the coming decade, we will redefine academic excellence in public policy and urban affairs by promoting the collective generation and sharing of knowledge in ways that close the circle that connects real life change to theory formation, analysis and implementation of actions. Yet, even before the end of that decade, the successes of our faculty, students, and partners may not simply be judged by their impact, but by the legacies they created. Towards that goal, we will continue to embrace diverse perspectives and welcome you to join our community – by visiting with us in Boston, participating in our many research, education and engagement activities, or following us on social and other media.
Matthias Ruth
Director and Professor, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs
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Research at SPPUA
10 years of use-inspired, innovative research

Northeastern University founded the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs 10 years ago to provide a space for applied interdisciplinary research. Since then, the School has created a tradition of high-impact research, education and engagement with communities of practitioners in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

To celebrate this milestone, we shine the spotlight on our service-oriented initiatives and research centers and labs, which have advanced public policy and urban affairs theory and practice not just in Boston, but around the nation and the globe. Read more.
Guest Column: ‘Doing some of the best research anywhere’

Northeastern members and community partners discuss how the School’s programs and research have been instrumental in solving society’s most pressing issues, as well as the legacy SPPUA will continue to create in Boston and around the world. Read more.

Recent Research Projects

Researchers mine Twitter to reveal Congress’ ideological divide on climate change

Does human activity drive global climate change? For members of Congress, the answer often depends on party affiliation. In general, Republicans say “nay,” Democrats “yea.”

A research team led by Brian Helmuth—professor in the College of Science and the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs—wants to change that. Read more.

Researchers reveal the hidden environmental and public health impacts of the US healthcare sector

“If the U.S. healthcare sector were itself a country, it would rank 13th in the world for greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of the entire U.K.” So states a new paper coauthored by Matthew J. Eckelman, affiliate professor at the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, that quantifies, for the first time, the total emissions—including greenhouse gases—that are released into the environment due to the healthcare sector and how those emissions adversely affect the public health. Read more.

New report projects Greater Boston infrastructure needs by 2030

Researchers at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy authored a new report that measures the current infrastructure throughout the five counties in Greater Boston, and projects the requirements for augmenting the built environment to meet the region’s needs in 2030. Read more.

Survey finds youth in Boston summer jobs program gain job readiness skills, higher academic aspirations

After youth participated in Boston’s summer jobs program, a greater number reported having increased job readiness skills, higher academic aspirations, and improved connections with their neighborhoods—with the largest gains in some areas among minority groups—according to a new report co-authored by Northeastern’s Alicia Sasser Modestino. Read more.
Get to Know: Alan Edmond, MPA ’75

Alan H. Edmond has worked in more than 40 countries as a program manager and consultant, but he says having a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Northeastern University was the dealmaker in landing his first town management job.

Edmond was working for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Communities and Development as a personnel manager in 1972 when he decided to pursue an MPA in hopes of learning more about state and local government operations. He said he graduated in 1975 with a solid background in city finances, budget mechanics and personnel administration, and with a sharpened analytical ability to look at trends, analyze complex systems, and draw valid conclusions. Read more.

Student & Alumni News

Doctoral candidate receives prestigious Bronze Medal Award

Michael Asaro, a doctoral candidate in our PhD in Law and Public Policy, was recently honored with the 2016 Department of Commerce Bronze Medal Award in Washington, D.C. Read more.

MPA alumnus starts new position at Mass Mentoring Partnership

"The MPA program at Northeastern was a great fit for me because it espouses utility, practicality, and problem-solving. For instance, nonprofits have a hard time measuring outcomes, so the need for well-trained leaders in program evaluation is crucial, and Northeastern gets that! From learning about program evaluation, understanding the RISE framework for nonprofits, learning from case studies on institutional leadership and management, and applying the principles of public budgeting and financial management, I am better able to lead. And an MPA from Northeastern is a problem-solving degree, which is ideal for a continually evolving nonprofit sector. It just made sense because I want to change the world, but not be impractical about it." —C.T. Ransdell
Read more.

Field Trip: Students witness Boston’s old and new

Students in Associate Professor Thomas Vicino’s “Growth and Decline of Cities and Suburbs” course recently ditched the classroom to experience first-hand a vestige of another Boston when hundreds of brick row houses dominated the West End. Read more.

Cities, Data & Coffee

Antonio Vázquez Brust, a student in our M.S. in Urban Informatics, is blogging about his research at the intersection of urban science and public policy. Follow Cities, Data & Coffee, on the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs website.

Intern 101

Joe Russo, a student in our Master of Public Administration, is documenting his summer internship in Mayor Stephanie M. Burke’s office in Medford, Mass. Follow his bi-weekly blog Intern 101 for reflections on his time as an intern at Medford City Hall.

SPPUA Update

Affiliate professor wins prestigious teaching award

In honor of her continued excellence as a health law jurist and educator, Wendy Parmet, the Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Law, recently received the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics’ prestigious Jay Healey Health Law Teachers Award.

This annual award recognizes a teacher of health law who embodies the passion and drive of its name­sake Jay Healy, a teacher at the University of Connecticut Schools of Law and Medicine who died in 1993 of pancreatic cancer. Read more.  

Exclusive Interview: Gov. Michael Dukakis on the North-South Rail Link

What's next for Boston’s rail service? Pull up a chair and watch former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis answer our social media community's questions about Boston's North-South Rail Link. Watch Video.

Developing strategies for civic technologies, e-government tools

Why is it so important to discuss growth and development of megacities at this time? What are the rules that determine their existence?

Dietmar Offenhuber, assistant professor of art and design and public policy, attempted to answer these questions at the Moscow Urban Forum, an international event about urbanization issues held annually in Moscow. Read more.

Simon Phemister visits SPPUA

Simon Phemister, deputy secretary of economic policy and state productivity for the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Victoria, Australia, visited the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs on Friday, June 3. Read more.

SPPUA faculty, students lead Boston Data Portal training

On Friday, May 20, representatives from 10 local community groups learned to use the Boston Area Research Initiative’s (BARI) Boston Data Portal, an online platform where visitors of all experience levels can browse, map, analyze, and download a variety of data describing the people, places, and neighborhoods of Boston.

The semi-public training was led by Assistant Professor Dan O’Brien, who is research director for BARI; Chelsea Farrell, a student in the PhD program in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice; and Sarah Plowman, a recent graduate of our M.S. in Urban and Regional Policy. Read more.

SPPUA hosts Wetskills Water Challenge Boston

Young water professionals from the Netherlands and the United States gathered for two weeks at the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs to develop an innovative concept to create solutions for water issues in a changing world. Read more.

Professor Hoff presents at Oxford University

Timothy Hoff, professor of management, healthcare systems and health policy, and visiting associate fellow at Oxford University’s Green-Templeton College, was recently in Oxford to give three talks to faculty, students, physicians, and healthcare executives. Read more.
In the Media

The faculty and staff at the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs continue to be reliable sources of expertise on current pressing issues. Here’s a list of articles in May, June and July that reference our knowledgeable staff and their research.

Quote of the Month

The Northeastern Way

Our graduate policy programs create leaders through experiential learning, research and education.

Northeastern Policy School
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