DE&I: Building on the longstanding success of faculty research and policy engagement

April 19, 2017

A key pillar of the Ford School’s recently released Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) is to build on the longstanding success of faculty research and policy engagement in this space. Here’s a quick snapshot of just a few of the many DE&I-related projects current Ford School faculty members are pursuing:

Even as the economy has improved, unemployment among workers with less education, especially those living in high-poverty areas, remains high says Luke Shaefer of a new research project he’s conducting with Brian Jacob and Elisabeth Gerber. In a collaborative project with the state, researchers will design and manage a randomized controlled trial to assess the impact of Michigan’s Community Ventures program, which helps structurally unemployed adults succeed in the labor market. The Community Ventures model “has significant potential to inform policymaking in other states and at the federal level, making a Michigan-based program a model for the nation,” they write.

Paula Lantz leads U-M's Policies for Action Research Hub. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the hub conducts policy-focused research to improve population health and diminish health disparities. Lantz and her colleagues have recently completed a landscape analysis of domestic "social impact bonds," aka "Pay for Success" demonstrations. Through this financing model, private sector capital is used to fund social service or prevention interventions—supportive housing, early childhood education, employment training after incarceration—with a potential payout from the public sector if the intervention achieves success and provides value to the government. The team is also working on an analysis of international Pay for Success demonstrations with the goal of further identifying the potential, and challenges, associated with this public-private partnership approach to tackling social disparities in health.

David Thacher is studying police “use of force,” and the way departments review incidents in the aftermath. His goal? To encourage departments to consider review procedures that go well beyond compliance. “A lot of people think police use too much force, and I think the most common response is ‘we need to hold police accountable, and we need to punish more cops,’” he says. “I think that’s probably true in some cases, but we’re not going to get very far that way. The real progress in reducing use of force doesn’t come through those punitive, compliance based strategies, but by learning from our own best officers.”

The list goes on and on.

Last fall, Betsey Stevenson advocated for a new policy that would require large employers in the U.S. to submit pay data that can be disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and sex. More recently, she met with the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia to discuss ways central banks can increase diversity, equity, and inclusion. Shobita Parthasarathy is exploring how poor women in the developing world can better contribute to, and benefit from, science and technology-based interventions. Ann Chih Lin and colleagues, including Ford School alum Mohamed Abbadi (MPP ’16), are testing whether brief conversations that encourage non-Muslims to think about times when they were excluded, or made to feel different, can reduce bias against Muslims.

“Given the extensive need to care for vulnerable communities and improve people’s lives, we’re proud of the breadth and depth of faculty research and engagement in this area,” says Susan M. Collins, Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy.

Below is a formatted version of this article from State & Hill, the magazine of the Ford School. View the entire Spring 2017 State & Hill here.