By: Nick Santangelo and Colin Hammar                                     

Dean Richard Deeg of The College of Liberal Arts (CLA) at Temple University has announced the creation of a new Public Policy Lab (PPL), a center for researchers who study public policies and the social processes relevant to their development and consequences. Launching its inaugural year of fellowships, workshops and colloquia in fall 2019, the PPL is accepting fellowship applications now with materials due Nov. 30.

"Soon after becoming Dean of the college, I realized that we have many faculty and graduate students across the college with a strong interest in public policy but who rarely talk across departmental boundaries,” explains Deeg. “In my first year as dean, we developed a strategic plan for the college that called for greater involvement in our community. Taken together, these factors make it the perfect time for the college to create a Public Policy Lab to foster policy research and college-wide networking among faculty and students and to help expand the impact of their work on local and national policy."

Bringing together faculty and graduate student researchers from across the college, PPL will provide an interdisciplinary forum for discussion of contemporary policy issues, support faculty and student scholarship, and disseminate participants’ research findings. Dr. Judith Levine, Associate Professor of Sociology, has been tapped as the lab’s first director.

"I asked Judith Levine to be the founding director of the lab because of her prior demonstrated leadership as Director of the Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies program, as well as the strength of her public policy scholarship,” Deeg said. “I have complete confidence that she will make this a highly successful new college initiative."

According to Dr. Levine, an expert on poverty policy, the lab will welcome not only researchers who study public policies themselves, but also those investigating social conditions and processes with implications for policy. Scholars of poverty, inequality, mass incarceration, education, immigration, health care and any other policy-related topic are welcome to participate in the lab’s programs.

“I am excited about the lab’s potential to serve as an intellectual home for scholars from multiple disciplines and methodological approaches who tackle the tough issues around public policy and related social needs,” Levine said.

The Lab will create an infrastructure for us to learn from each other’s work, bring in outside guests, and build a vibrant culture around policy-relevant scholarship.

PPL is currently inviting applicants for several fellowship programs aimed at supporting both faculty and graduate student researchers working on such policy-oriented projects.

“We are gearing up to select our first cohort of fellows,” explains Dr. Levine, “These folks not only will enjoy all the support that the fellowships bring but also will help define what the lab will be going forward.”

The  will support three different types of fellowships:

1.    Faculty Fellowships for tenured/tenure-track faculty
2.    Research Team Fellowships, which pair a faculty member with a graduate research assistant
3.    Graduate Fellowships for advanced PhD students in the college lab

Fellows will receive various forms of financial support to help facilitate their research projects. All fellows will participate in the lab’s Fellowship Workshop, presenting their own work, reading other fellows’ work and attending sessions to provide feedback and support. Fellows will also get help securing external funding for their work and with promoting their projects. Anyone interested in becoming a fellow can now get more information and application instructions.

Research and funding opportunities are particularly exciting for CLA students, according to Colin Hammar, a graduate student and research assistant helping Dr. Levine establish the lab. “As graduate students, our opportunities to work with faculty as research assistants are often based on whether the faculty member can bring in external funding to support that graduate researcher. For the college to have this dedicated commitment to letting graduate students work alongside faculty members is exciting.”

While fellows are appointed for an academic year, the lab intends for the intellectual community to be a fixture among policy researchers. “We hope people will stay involved in the talk series and workshops beyond their fellowship year,” says Dr. Levine. “We want the lab to be a place where people bring fresh ideas and perspectives as their research evolves.”

As fellowship applications are being submitted, the PPL is preparing to launch its inaugural year of programming with a symposium. Focusing on local, state and national issues, the symposium will highlight the contributions liberal arts faculty members bring to understanding how public policy can best address a host of social problems.

“We’ll kick off our activities with a symposium in early fall 2019 that will bring together a national set of policy researchers and our own Temple University scholars to present on panels focusing on cutting-edge topics of policy concern,” explains Dr. Levine. “The symposium will be a great way to launch the first year of our colloquia series, fellowship workshop and other events. We hope that all faculty and graduate students within CLA whose work is relevant for public policy or who are simply interested in public policy, will join in on our activities in the coming year.”

CLA researchers interested in applying for PPL fellowships are encouraged to get more information and to submit their materials. The deadline for applications is Nov. 30. Any questions about PPL and its fellowships can be sent to PPL@temple.edu.

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