Spotlights – Spring 2020 State & Hill

May 22, 2020

All hands on deck

Ford School faculty and research centers have been actively involved with the policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Luke Shaefer is advising the state on how to reduce the impact on low-income families. Michael Barr, Betsey Stevenson, and Justin Wolfers have been actively pushing for strong measures to help families make it through the downturn. Jeff Morenoff and Liz Gerber are deploying their Detroit Metro Area Communities Survey to understand how households are coping with the virus and economic fallout. CLOSUP is revamping the Michigan Public Policy Survey to ask local governments across Michigan what they need to deal with the crisis. Poverty Solutions, Youth Policy Lab, and the Center on Finance, Law, and Policy have produced resource guides for small businesses, nonprofits, and Michiganders. Read more about these efforts and more at

Admissions WebinarRecruiting in a pandemic

In early March, the Ford School sent out admissions decisions for its Master of Public Policy and Master of Public Affairs programs, with plans to welcome them to Weill Hall in early April. Less than a week later, staff and faculty were turning to contingency plans: a series of nine webinars and a fully Virtual Spring Preview that would replicate—as best possible—some of the key experiences of interacting with and getting to know the Ford School community. The good news? Admitted students from all over the world tuned in.

DC Career Exploration TripA growing network

A record 55 students attended the Ford School’s annual career exploration trip in DC, a two-day event complete with panels, power lunches, and policy talk. The trip is a chance for students to connect and engage with alumni, as well as for alumni to reconnect with each other and the school. An additional 110+ people turned out for the student-alumni reception and conversation with Weiser Diplomacy Center director John Ciorciari.

The Received Wisdom LogoThe Received Wisdom

How racist are robots? Should we regulate gene editing? Have people stopped trusting experts? Does scientific research make the world a more unequal place? In their new podcast, The Received Wisdom, Ford School professor Shobita Parthasarathy and co-host Jack Stilgoe (University College London) explore the potential of science and technology by challenging commonly held wisdom in focused conversations and with special guests. Listen to the podcast at

Susan RiceSeats at that table

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Ambassador Susan Rice sat down with 20 Ford School students to discuss her career and leadership experiences working for the U.S. government. Students from several Ford School student organizations⁠—Global Fordies, Out in Public, Students of Color in Public Policy, and Women and Gender in Public Policy⁠—asked questions about succeeding in the federal workspace as members of minority identity groups. You can read more about this session at

Michigan Data & Policy Fellows

Launched in 2019, Youth Policy Lab’s Michigan Data & Policy Fellowship places students in state agencies for two years to help make specific and measurable improvements. The inaugural fellows are Ava Attari and Sarah Ostyn. Attari, working with the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, is exploring ways in which the state’s Workforce Development Agency can engage individuals enrolled in Medicaid, TANF, and SNAP. Ostyn, placed at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, is working to improve performance and quality across Michigan's Maternal-Infant Health Program. 

Search Inside YourselfLead organizations, others, and self

In March, the school’s graduate career services office hosted Search Inside Yourself, a two-day mindfulness and emotional intelligence workshop for students and staff, as part of the Ford School’s Leadership Initiative. The highly interactive in-person session was originally developed at Google.

Below is a formatted version of this article from State & Hill, the magazine of the Ford School. View the entire Spring 2020 State & Hill .