Dean's Symposium

Policy Innovation for Our Times - April 11-12.
Online and in-person at the Ford School, 735 South State Street.
Conference schedule (Adobe PDF)

4/12 update - Watch or rewatch the Dean's Symposium events by clicking on the session below. 

Join us for two days of panels, chats, and keynotes focused on examining and seeking solutions to some of the biggest challenges we face in Michigan, in the United States, and across the globe.

Come for a single session of interest, or stay for the entire set of discussions!

Join the conversation at the Dean's Symposium! Follow us @FordSchool and use #DeansSymposium to engage in insightful discussion and connect with speakers and fellow attendees.


Policy Innovation for Our Times

The Ford School of Public Policy is happy to announce the Dean’s Symposium, which will take place April 11 and 12 at Weill Hall, with the theme, “Policy Innovation for Our Times.” The two days will feature keynote appearances and panel discussions, and include appearances by voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams, technology visionary Alondra Nelson, and domestic policy veteran Cecilia Muñoz, along with a series of panel discussions among scholars and policymakers examining social policy, racial equity, climate change, and the state of democracy.

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Celeste Watkins-Hayes, who is finishing her first academic year as the Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy, convened the symposium to bring together Ford School experts with leading thinkers from her past career stops at Northwestern, Harvard, and Spelman. She explains, “This Symposium is close to my heart, and is a reflection of the range of important policy issues that we work on at the Ford School. I am grateful for the participation of so many great colleagues who will be joining us from all across the country.”

April 11

Public Policy in the 21st Century: Charting the Course

National social policy leader Cecilia Muñoz, in conversation with Ford School Dean Celeste Watkins-Hayes, will reflect on her eight years in the Obama administration and domestic policy work on the Biden transition team, as well as her decades-long careers at the National Council of La Raza (now UNIDOS US). The issues of political inclusion for the LatinX community, public interest technology, and immigration and refugee affairs remain central to her work.
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New Policy in Support of Families and Kids

A host of policies have been attempted to give direct cash payments and tax credits to low income families and new mothers. This panel will examine the latest research and evidence with leading sociologists, political scientists, and economists.
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The AI Bill of Rights and the Future of Technology Policy

A wide-ranging discussion with technologist Alondra Nelson, reflecting on her time in the White House, her role as a social scientist involved in shaping science and technology (and particularly AI), her insights into the policy process, and specifically her work on the open access and AI Bill of Rights initiatives.
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April 12

Communicating Climate Change

Climate change is often described as a wicked problem, one with many interdependent, changing, and thorny factors to solve. For policymakers, this often means balancing complex and sometimes competing preferences from a range of stakeholders, both responding to those voices and communicating about policies in ways that will resonate with a wide range of audiences.
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The state of democracy around the world

The Financial Times calls 2024, "The most intense and cacophonous 12 months of democracy the world has seen since the idea was minted nearly 2,500 years ago." Some two billion people in 70 countries will vote in 2024, including in eight of the 10 most populous countries. It is happening against a backdrop of democracies on the defensive. What is the true state of democracy around the world in this crucial year?
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Racial Justice and Public Policy: Complexities, Challenges, and Priorities for Reform

In this session, five successful scholars from a variety of disciplines will discuss their work and perspectives regarding racial justice and public policy. Panelists will discuss the role of public policy in both contributing to and addressing racial inequities from domestic and international perspectives.
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American democracy at the crossroads

Voting rights activist Stacey Abrams will address the challenges to American democracy, her work to guarantee voter access, and other civil rights battles facing the United States in 2024. In-person seats at this keynote event are available for students, faculty, and staff of the Ford School. The talk will be livestreamed and available on-demand.
Learn more and watch live