SPPUA in Action | February 2017
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Dear Friends,

Many of the lessons from recent political developments in the nation stem from the recognition of just how important it is to (a) honor and respect the many voices and faces that make up our society, and (b) have in place strong institutions as well as courageous elected and civic leaders who protect them. Nowhere do we experience the benefits of diversity and of the power of the people more closely than in our communities.
Universities, and the policy schools within them, have a unique role to play in advancing knowledge about our communities—how they work, and how they relate to each other and the natural environment on which they depend. Policy schools also have a mandate to educate and train leaders so they know how to promote sustainability of their communities. That means being able to tap into scientific fact, instead of emotion, to support the common good rather than shortsighted self-interest, and to be open to new ideas.
As this e-newsletter attests, the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs has long been at the forefront of doing just that—infusing cutting-edge science into the social and policy realms, delivering high-caliber education to people of diverse backgrounds and far-reaching ambitions, and continuously engaging our communities to learn with them. I invite you to join us in that endeavor by visiting with us in Boston, participating in our many activities, or following us on social and other media.
Matthias Ruth
Director and Professor, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs
January in Photos
MS in Urban and Regional Policy: Watch Video
Faculty Research
Collaborative project aims at educating the public on effects of global climate change

A professor and PhD student in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs (SPPUA) have partnered with the Museum of Science in Boston and Arizona State University to create visualizations that communicate threats from climate change.

Brian Helmuth, professor of environmental science and public policy, Francis Choi, senior lab technician at Northeastern’s Helmuth Lab, and David Sittenfeld, forum program manager at the Museum of Science and a student in SPPUA’s PhD in Law and Public Policy, are developing scenarios and visualizations to communicate climate change vulnerabilities and engage hundreds of participants around the country in thinking about potential economic, social and environmental impacts of proposed resilience strategies for four environmental climate-related hazards: drought, heat waves, sea level rise, and extreme precipitation. Read more.
Northeastern selected to lead research on nation’s pressing transportation challenges

Northeastern University has been selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation as one of 18 “forward thinking and influential institutions” to lead research aimed at solving some of the nation’s pressing transportation challenges over the next three decades.

The project specifically builds upon and coalesces Northeastern’s research expertise in three areas: physical infrastructure and sensing, streamlined services using data analytics, and governance and policy. The latter will be conducted through the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy and the Boston Area Research Initiative—both of which are housed within the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and maintain collaborative relationships with public agencies in order to translate scientific research into innovations in policy and practice. Read more.
Is human capital healthcare’s biggest asset?

National healthcare spending increased 5.8 percent in 2015, reaching a total of 3.2 trillion, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If you’re doing the math, that’s an average of $9,990 per person. And while the exact numbers haven’t been released yet, the nation’s 2016 healthcare tab is expected to hit $3.35 trillion, surpassing $10,000 for every man, woman, and child for the first time in history.

“Healthcare costs are too high,” says Timothy Hoff, professor of management, healthcare systems, and health policy. “Employers want to pay less and individuals want to pay less, but the only way that will ever happen is if we can figure out a way to deliver healthcare to patients at a lower cost.” Read more.
In the Classroom
Students gain understanding of U.S. housing policy, politics of affordable housing

Housing is an essential human need and a critical sector of the United States economy. And students in professor Len Albright’s “Housing Policy” course are examining key policies at the national, state and local levels, and how they are implemented on the ground. Read more.

Get to know

Robin Blatt-Eisengart, MURP ’12

Alumnus Robin Blatt-Eisengart, financial analyst/program manager for MassDOT, shares how he combined a business degree with a Masters in Urban and Regional Policy, and how he is empowering residents to take a hand in shaping community development. Read more.
Guest Column
5 benefits of studying abroad in grad school

By Leslie Stahl, MURP alumna, Community Planner at Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center

One of the reasons I chose to study at Northeastern was because of the Amsterdam exchange program. If you studied abroad as an undergrad, you likely know how fulfilling it is to live in a foreign city surrounded by different people and to learn in an exciting (and at times challenging) new culture. Studying abroad as a graduate student offers the same experiences and a few new ones. Read more.

Student & Alumni News

Human Services student makes history with Cuba co-op

Human Services student Caroline Bynum made higher education history last month as one of the first two students to do co-op in Cuba. She will spend the next four months working on a cultural preservation project at the Antonio Núñez Jiménez Foundation. Read more.  

SPPUA Update

Creating community resilience in Japan

Professor Daniel Aldrich, director of the Masters in Security and Resilience Studies, and co-author Emi Kiyota teamed up to work on a program intervention initially based in Japan known as Ibasho, or “my place.”

Their project sought to see if it was possible to deliberately create social ties in post-disaster environments when people were still living as evacuees in temporary shelters. After constructing a physical building to serve as the center for these interactions, Aldrich, Kiyota, and other team members began measuring baseline social connections, sense of belonging, and a variety of demographic and financial characteristics of people in the community nearby. Read more.  

New article examines collaboration among senior healthcare executives

Timothy Hoff, professor of management, healthcare systems, and public policy, and a member of the Management and Organizational Development Group at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, has published an article, based on ongoing collaborative research with colleagues from Oxford University’s Said Business School and Green-Templeton College, in the January issue of the British Journal of Healthcare Management.

“Leading together: Collaboration among senior healthcare executives,” reports on interviews with senior-level executives in the National Health Service, identifying interpersonal and contextual factors that produce effective executive collaboration and shared decision making. Read more.

How universities respond to fossil fuel divestment

Jennie Stephens, Dean's Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy, has produced a comprehensive review of how universities are responding to calls to divest from fossil fuel.

In “Divestment & Investment: Strategic Financial Decisions in Higher Education to Promote Societal Change Toward Sustainability,” Stephens and co-authors highlight the potential for universities to take a leadership role in shifting public policy on climate change. Read more.

SPPUA faculty, alumnus present at Southern Political Science Association Conference

Three faculty and an alumnus from the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs presented their research at the 88th Annual Conference of the Southern Political Science Association in New Orleans, La.

Held Jan. 12-14, the conference fostered intellectual exchange and professional development in all fields and subfields of political science. Read more.

Professor Hoff on healthcare systems

Professor Timothy Hoff recently gave two health policy talks in Oxford, UK. The first, entitled “An Update from the USA: The Fate of Obamacare,” reviewed the present state of the Affordable Care Act and likely actions to be taken over the next year in attempting to repeal and replace it. The talk was given to faculty, students, and others at Oxford University’s Green-Templeton College, where Hoff is a Visiting Associate Fellow. 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. Click here for a list of articles during the month of January that reference our knowledgeable staff and their research.

Quote of the Month

Upcoming events

Myra Kraft Open Classroom

In the Spring 2017 edition of the Myra Kraft Open Classroom we focus on the food system, a topic that we last addressed in spring 2012, with great success. This time around, we will tap Boston’s incredibly rich array of individuals and organizations working to make the food system more sustainable, healthier, and fairer for all. In doing so, we will emphasize actions at the front lines, the activities in Boston’s neighborhoods, its universities, service organizations, and entrepreneurial startups. Click here for details.  

Lives in Law and Policy Speaker Series

We will continue the Lives in Law and Policy Speaker Series with leading figures in the field of law and policy. This semester, our speakers will explore topics including civil rights, federalism, and foreign policy. They include representatives from all levels of government and both sides of the political aisle. Click here for details.

The World in Your Cup: Conversations on the Politics and Culture of Coffee

Join us for a discussion on "Why Water Matters & the Chemistry of Coffee" with Christopher Hendon, MIT post-doc in computational chemistry; co-author of the book Water for Coffee. Details: Monday, February 27, 6:30 p.m., location TBA.

The State of Women’s Advancement in Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Policy Research: Current Trends and Future Directions In Greater Boston and Beyond

Northeastern University invites you to an exciting half-day forum on March 3 that will examine and explore topics critical to the advancement of women in the workplace including pay equity, breaking glass ceilings, and policy decisions. We will discuss current research of women’s growth in the areas of leadership, entrepreneurship, and policy, and what it means for the future. Visit our registration page for details.

Boston Area Research Initiative Spring Conference

Registration is now open for BARI’s Spring Conference, “Data-Driven Research, Policy, and Practice: Lessons From Boston, For Boston,” March 9 and 10 at Northeastern University.  Visit BARI’s website for additional information.  

The Northeastern Way

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

Northeastern Policy School
SPPUA Website

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