SPPUA in Action | March 2016
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Dear Friends,

The study and practice of public policy and urban affairs has long recognized the importance of collaborations between the public and private sectors, and the role that individuals and nonprofit organizations play in shaping the world around us. The recent dedication of Northeastern University as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus now makes official the leadership role we have played in making the connection between people and policy through research and action. Anchored in our Social Impact Lab, the NuLawLab and the Social Enterprise Institute, a host of activities have celebrated and strengthened faculty, staff, student and community partner achievements in the social change arena. This issue of our e-newsletter is largely dedicated to those activities. Other topics include the research and work by our Human Services Program faculty, staff and students that is incubating the changemakers.
You get the inside scoop on research by Lori Gardinier, director and associate teaching professor in the Human Services Program, on the impact that service and experiential learning have on the community. You also get a snapshot of a Human Services class that our students are calling a “mini co-op,” and you are introduced to some of our Human Services alumni.  
Lastly, we take you on a virtual tour of the many activities, events and opportunities we have sponsored this past month – from a field trip to the American Museum of Tort Law in Connecticut, to a moot court competition and career networking event.
Matthias Ruth
Director and Professor, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs
Watch Video

February in Photos

Incubating Changemakers: ‘Social innovation ecosystem is in the DNA of this university’

After months of rigorous assessments, interviews, site visits, and strategy sessions, Northeastern University has recently joined the Ashoka U Change­maker Campus Network, a consortium of higher education institutions worldwide committed to social innovation education. Read more.

Northeastern students are working to cultivate social change

The idea of change­making is not busi­ness, it is not psy­chology, it is not human ser­vices. It is a com­bi­na­tion of all those fac­tors and it can mate­ri­alize in what­ever aligns with a person’s interest. Everyone sees social prob­lems in their lives and they are moti­vated to create some change around that.” Read more.

Faculty Research: The impact of service, experiential learning on communities

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., Associate Teaching Professor Lori Gardinier saw firsthand the implications of a declining economy. Compelled to understand structural and individual responses that could help mitigate some of the economic and social changes within communities, Gardinier pursued a career in social work and public policy, practicing antipoverty and social justice work in community-based settings and serving as a counselor in organizations addressing intimate partner violence. Read more.

Get to Know: Human Services alumnus Valduvino Gonçalves

“My job is to prepare students for life after high school. This includes ensuring that they are ready for college and a career, and have a viable post-secondary plan. There is nothing more rewarding than that.” Read more.

In the Classroom: Deconstructing child welfare practices

When should a parent lose the right to raise a child?

Sitting in bright green chairs in a Snell Library classroom, 23 undergraduate students in Lori Gardinier’s “Human Services Professions” course attempted to answer that question on Thursday, Feb. 25. They applied core attitudes, values, skills and knowledge in Human Services to deconstruct “Failure to Protect,” a film that examines child welfare practices in rural Maine. Read more.

Guest Column: Exchanging sparks of social innovation in New Orleans

By alumna Ali Fraenkel and students Alex Vipond and Becky Darling
In partnership with the dynamic host community of New Orleans and Tulane University, Northeastern University was recently welcomed into an entirely new community: the Ashoka U Changemaker Campus network. Over the historical backdrop of post-Katrina revitalization in New Orleans, leaders worldwide came together for the 2016 Ashoka U Exchange to share and celebrate social innovation education. Read more.

Student & Alumni News

Beyond the Classroom: Team Tort Tart Tour

They call themselves Team Tort Tart Tour. Getting to northern Connecticut is their mission, a white van their mode of transportation, tarts and coffee their energy boosters, and understanding tort law their power hour.

At 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 26, 13 students in professor Dan Urman’s “Introduction to Law” class jumped into a van outside of Northeastern University's School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs with one sole purpose: to see the new American Museum of Tort Law in Winsted, Conn. Read more.

Northeastern Mock Trial takes home Spirit of AMTA Award

This year, Northeastern University students, with the support of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the School of Law, launched a new intercollegiate Mock Trial team who was awarded the Spirit of AMTA Award at a regional tournament in February. Read more.

Career Forum: ‘SPPUA students got a chance to meet and network with people from a variety of sectors’

On Friday, Feb. 19, 32 SPPUA students gathered in the Northeastern Alumni Center to network with 20 MPA, MURP and LPP alumni who were once in their shoes.

The Career Forum and Alumni Networking Event kicked off at 5 p.m. with introductions. Alumni provided an overview of their fields before taking a seat at discussion tables where they answered students’ questions about transportation; sustainability and alternative energy; education; healthcare; policy research and communications; housing; public finance; and community, economic and real estate development. Read more.

Human Services alumni gather for pasta and a conversation about the future of their profession

Human Services alumni gathered in a conference room in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 29, for a first of a kind event that combined pasta, chicken Parmesan, and other Italian delights with a discussion of the current and the future states of their chosen profession. Read more.

Completing the Capstone

Lauren Costello, a student in the Master of Science in Urban and Regional Policy (MURP) with a focus on urban policy, design and economic development, is documenting her final capstone project through her blog “Completing the Capstone.” In a team of policy and architecture students, she is participating in this year's Affordable Housing Design Competition hosted by FHLB Boston. Follow her blog for weekly posts about the team's progress in completing their final capstone project.

Your Program, Your School: Explore, Connect, Engage

Calling all SPPUA alumni: Visit our new alumni network page and keep us informed about your life’s journey. Join our alumni group on LinkedIn and reconnect with your former classmates and broaden your networks by connecting with new people. Connect with us and become an active member of Northeastern University’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs.

SPPUA Update

At its 55th annual meeting, the Board of Directors of the Western Regional Science Association elected SPPUA Director Matthias Ruth to become president of the Association, starting in 2018.  With this appointment, Ruth will join the ranks of eminent world leaders in regional science.

The School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs is in the midst of a strategic planning process to guide the School into the future. The process is organized around a set of key questions about challenges and opportunities facing the School. To answer these important questions effectively, the School is holding multiple rounds of discussions, and gathering feedback from key stakeholders – faculty, staff, students, alumni, Advisory Committee members, and more – that will be used to formulate recommendations about crucial topics to the planning process such as the development of programs and curricula, as well as external relations and partnerships. The more extensive the contributions we receive on any and all of these topics, the more successful the planning process will be, and the implementation of action items thereafter. We therefore invite all members of our community to share their thoughts and perspective through our online forum.

Faculty in the Media: February 2016

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 during the month of February that reference our knowledgeable staff and their research. Read more.

Quote of the Month

Upcoming Events

Spurred by the city of Boston’s Imagine Boston 2030 initiative, which is developing Boston’s first comprehensive master plan since 1965, the Myra Kraft Open Classroom is focused on “Shaping Boston’s Future: Aspirations, Opportunities, and Challenges.” Speakers include several city officials and consultants working on the Imagine Boston 2030 initiative and related city initiatives focusing on housing, transportation, and the arts as well as notable civic leaders, local scholars, and state officials. Classes are held on Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. in West Village F, room 20. Visit our website for the course schedule, directions and materials from past sessions. We’ll live tweet from every session using #OCNEU and #SPPUA. The free semester-long seminar series is open to students, staff, and the general public.

Join us for “Lives in Law and Public Policy,” an annual speaker series that allows members of the Northeastern community to meet leading figures in the law and policy arena. David Friedman, former U.S. Supreme Court clerk and vice president and general counsel of the Boston Red Sox, will speak on March 31 at 6 p.m. at 310 Renaissance Park. This session will be recorded and the video will be posted to our YouTube channel.

SPPUA Unveiled: Join faculty and staff on Wednesdays from 5 to 6 p.m. in West Village F, in the lobby outside of room 20, for a free drop-in information session before our Myra Kraft Open Classroom.
  • Find out about our interdisciplinary graduate programs in Public Administration, Urban and Regional Policy, Public Policy, International Affairs, and Urban Informatics.
  • Discover our graduate certificate offerings, including Urban Informatics, Data Science and Nonprofit Sector, Philanthropy and Social Change.
  • Learn more about our cutting-edge research centers and labs, international exchange program, and experiential learning opportunities.
  • Meet faculty and staff.

SPPUA Detective — Do you know where this is?

If you know the answer, send your name and location of the subject in the photo to Your name will appear in the forthcoming newsletter!
Last month’s photo was taken at the School’s office suite in Renaissance Park.
Do you have what it takes to become a detective and stump the SPPUA community? We are looking for mystery photo submissions for the SPPUA Detective series. Email your mystery photos to Be sure to include the location of the image in the photograph.

The Northeastern Way

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

Northeastern Policy School
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Northeastern University School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs · 310 Renaissance Park · Boston, MA 02115 · USA