SPPUA in Action | March 2017
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Dear Friends,

As a school of public policy and urban affairs we find ourselves at the sweet spot where policy, administration, research, and engagement intersect with the needs, interests and aspirations of a diverse population living in close proximity. Not only do we have unique opportunities to contribute to solving the many social, economic and environmental challenges that emerge, but we also have a mandate of doing so based on the best available science.
Where knowledge gaps exist, we fill them. Where vision and strategic planning are needed, we provide them on the basis of sound analysis. Where the skill sets are required to tackle complex problems, we make available our faculty as advisors and deploy our students as interns, capstone teams and employees to businesses, government and the nonprofit sector. We do all this in ways that feed back knowledge into the academic enterprise of research, education and engagement, and in doing so we close the loop between theory and practice that leads to lasting innovation.
The features of this e-newsletter are a testament to our mission. We shine the spotlight on the students and faculty that make up our Master of Public Policy, a program that emphasizes the analysis of data and other relevant information and enables our students to assess public problems, develop appropriate policy responses, and evaluate program effectiveness. To learn more, visit us in Boston, participate in our many activities, or follow us on social and other media.
Matthias Ruth
Director and Professor, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs
February in Photos
Faculty Research
Science and politics: Finding common ground

Science and politics: The relationship is hotly debated in the news these days, with both lawmakers and the public noting a great divide between support for research among Republicans and Democrats. But two papers by Northeastern researchers point to a subtler—more conciliatory— conclusion.

Brian Helmuth, professor in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, and his colleagues analyzed the nearly 79,000 Twitter accounts followed by the 89 U.S. senators of the 114th Congress that were publicly available in February 2015 to see which legislators followed research-oriented science organizations. Read more.
Study: Despite Trump’s win, polling is a strong elections predictor globally

Leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the majority of polls had Democrat Hillary Clinton edging out Republican Donald Trump. When Trump won, criticism of this quantitative method of predicting elections swiftly took shape. As one Republican strategist noted on election night, “Tonight data died.” Not so, according to a new study led by David Lazer, Northeastern network scientist and affiliate professor in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. Read more.

Get to Know

Christopher Bosso
Professor of Public Policy; Director, Master of Public Policy Program

Ever wondered what impacts public policy has on how we eat – and who decides? Professor Christopher Bosso sure does. That’s why he is tackling real-world urban and social problems through his analysis of food politics. Bosso took a break from his research to chat about ideology, careers, and more. Read more.

Kelley Turner
Student, Master of Public Policy

An 18-year Coast Guard veteran, Kelley Turner came to Northeastern with a wealth of management and leadership knowledge. But it was here that he acquired sharper critical thinking skills and learned how to determine strong policy implementations.

When Lt. Cmdr. Turner was selected by the Coast Guard to complete an advanced degree, he chose the Master of Public Policy (MPP) because he wanted to delve into policy analysis. Now, just two semesters into the program, he has completed an in-depth case study of the town of Plymouth’s Budget Department, and he is in the midst of creating a comprehensive evaluation plan of a Massachusetts State Police anti-gang tactics program. Read more.
In the Classroom
Bureaucracy matters

A School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs professor is on a mission to prove that bureaucracy matters. When Linda Kowalcky asked 18 graduate students enrolled in her “Strategizing Public Policy” course what went wrong with the proposed ban on refugees entering the U.S., they quickly identified the problem. Read more.
Guest Column
The State of Women’s Advancement: Where we are and how we can level the playing field

By Alicia Sasser Modestino, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Urban Affairs and Economics; Associate Director, Dukakis Center

Although we’ve come a long way in our perceptions of what women can accomplish over the past several decades, it’s still the case that gendered social norms remain embedded in both workplace culture as well as the female psyche—both of which prevent women from advancing in their careers. Read more.

Student & Alumni News

Photos: Professional Networking Forum

Current SPPUA students and alumni took over the Northeastern University Alumni Center on Friday, Feb. 24, for a fun evening of networking and learning. Approximately 60 students and alumni attended the Professional Networking Forum, held by the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs in collaboration with the graduate student organization NAPPS. Read more.

PhD alumnus accepts tenure-track position

A Law and Public Policy PhD alumnus will trade his current job as a senior researcher at the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea), a government think-tank in Brazil, for a tenure-track faculty position at University of Oklahoma this summer.

Fabio de Sa e Silva will join the College of International Studies and Department of International and Area Studies in August, where he will conduct research and teach courses on Brazil and the intersections between law, globalization, development, and policy. Read more.

PhD alumnus publishes article related to doctoral research

David Wesley, who graduated with a PhD in Law and Public Policy in 2014, recently wrote an article, featured in Ergonomics in Design, which is related to his doctoral research.

Wesley’s dissertation focused on using social media to build alliances and frame public policy. The framework, he said, was developed around the Keystone XL pipeline and therefore required significant background research on the petroleum industry and pipeline safety. Read more.

Student Advocacy: Gun Violence Prevention Summit

"I lost a loved one to a random act of gun violence when I was a young woman. In my grief and devastation, I learned about the movement against gun violence and became an advocate for gun violence prevention, and intersectionality became a touchstone of my organizing and advocacy."

— Martha Durkee-Neuman, student in the Human Services Program

Read more.

Two Northeastern undergrads are first from a U.S. college to be allowed to work in Cuba

Caroline Bynum, a third-year human services major, and Madeline Drake are having a spring semester unlike any other.

The Northeastern University students are living and working in Cuba, immersing themselves in the culture as they become the first U.S. undergrads to take part in such a program in the island nation, the school said. Read more.  

Reconnect with fellow huskies

The School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs has a new alumni organization. Click here to connect with other alumni.

SPPUA Update

Northeastern launches Global Resilience Institute
SPPUA faculty to lead the initiative

Northeastern University has launched the Global Resilience Institute, a university-wide initiative involving all nine colleges led by Stephen Flynn, affiliate professor in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. Read more.

Professor Stephens receives Arab American Frontiers Fellowship

Jennie Stephens, Dean's Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy, has recently received an Arab-American Frontiers Fellowship from the National Academies of Sciences. The fellowship will support international collaboration with Stephen’s research team as well as the research of her collaborator Yaser Jararweh of Jordan University of Science and Technology. Read more.

New study explores how disasters impact trust among residents

Professor Daniel Aldrich and colleague Muhammad Akbar, of the University of the Punjab, saw the tremendous tragedy of the 2010 Pakistan floods as a way to understand how that disaster would change the relationship between the people and their decision makers. Read more.

Carnegie Mellon students visit BARI

Last month, a team of graduate students from Carnegie Mellon visited Boston in an immersive trek to kick-off their Social Innovation Fellowship. They met with academic, government, and social entrepreneurs to learn about the many ways the City of Boston and local universities have used social innovation to improve their city. They were hosted by the Boston Area Research Initiative (BARI) and the City of Boston, both part of the MetroLab Network. BARI Director Dan O’Brien shared his insight on BARI’s work. Click here to learn more.

Professor Modestino’s research highlighted at Youth Employment Policy Forum

On Feb. 16, the PIC, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development hosted a Youth Employment Policy Forum. Alicia Sasser Modestino of Northeastern University’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs presented findings from her research on trends in youth employment in Massachusetts and underscored the need for programs that connect teens and young adults to employment opportunities. Read more.

Professor Aldrich’s approach to disasters incorporated into new Portland planning document

The CityClub of Portland, Ore., has issued its new report “Big Steps Before the Big One: How the Portland area can bounce back after a major earthquake.” Rather than focusing, as is typical, on physical infrastructure, the report uses professor Daniel Aldrich's approach to disasters and adds in a focus on social infrastructure. Read more.

Framing the Farm Bill is now available

Professor Christopher Bosso has a new book fresh off the printing press that looks at the politics of the farm bill as a lens to understanding American politics more broadly: the competing ideological views on the role of government, the party divisions, the class of vested interests, and competition over limited resources.

Framing the Farm Bill: Interests, Ideology, and Agricultural Act of 2014, published last month, is an enlightening look at federal agricultural policy and the effect federal legislation has on farming practices, the environment, and our diet. Read more.

Tumber reviews new Jane Jacobs biography

Catherine Tumber, senior research associate at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, wrote a review of a new biography of Jane Jacobs, a journalist, author and activist best known for her influence on urban studies.

Tumber’s review, “The Neighborhood Activist as Prophet: How Jane Jacobs took on the planners—and how her legacy is at risk” appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Read the full review here.

SPPUA professor presents at U.S. Green Building Council Tech Forum

Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy Jennie Stephens presented her research at the “Building Tech Forum: The Rise of the Smart Cities” on Feb. 16. In her remarks, she discussed the cultural and institutional change associated with the renewable energy transition, while pointing out that innovations in green building and smart communities are a political act moving beyond the status quo. 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 February 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. 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.

Spatializing Black People and Black Music: The Rise of Prince & the Minneapolis Music Scene

Join the Department of Sociology and Anthropology's Intellectual Events Committee for a discussion on "Spatializing Black People and Black Music: The Rise of Prince & the Minneapolis Music Scene" with Rashad Shabazz, author of Spatializing Blackness. Details: Thursday, March 16, 3 to 4:30 p.m., West Village, 108G. Sponsored by the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, the John O’Bryant African-American Institute, the History Department, and Media and Screen Studies.

Faculty Works-in-Progress Colloquium Series

Jennie Stephens, Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy, will present on “Gender and Justice in the Transition from Fossil Fuels to Renewable Energy,” on Monday, March 20, 12 - 1 p.m. in 909 Renaissance Park. Click here for details.

Timothy Hoff, professor of management, healthcare systems, and public policy, will present on “Preserving the Doctor-Patient Relationship in an Age of Corporatized Medicine” on Thursday, March 30, 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. in 909 Renaissance Park. Click here for details.

Urban Development and the Politics of Flooding in Jakarta

Join the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the Asian Studies Program on Thursday, March 23, from 12-1:15 p.m., at 310 Renaissance Park, for a seminar on "Urban Development and the Politics of Flooding in Jakarta" with Kemal Taruc, a 2017 Fulbright ASEAN Scholar and a professor in the Graduate Program in Real Estate and Urban Development at Tarumanagara University, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Human Services Program

The Human Services Program is sponsoring multiple events this month, including a book talk and a conference featuring a broad range of award-winning journalists, innovative scholars and practitioners. Check their website for the schedule of events.  

The Northeastern Way

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

Northeastern Policy School
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