Research centers

Cutting-edge. Evidence-based. Collaborative. Engaged.

Research, learning, and impact

The Ford School is home to or co-sponsor of a growing number of active, multi-disciplinary research centers and initiatives leveraging the knowledge and expertise across the University of Michigan. They serve as a resource for policymakers and practitioners, academics, students, the media, and the public. They offer numerous engaged learning opportunities for students. And they identify and solve complex challenges facing our communities. 

Explore each of their websites for the most up-to-date publications and projects —delivering insights, findings, and recommendations from the Ford School's leading academic researchers. 

Center for Racial Justice

The Center for Racial Justice is a cross-disciplinary space that directly invests in initiatives designed to advance racial equity and cultivate a diverse community of changemakers. The center organizes speakers and event series, Racial Foundations of Public Policy and Masterclass in Activism, that foster intellectual engagement at the intersection of race and public policy. Additionally, we have several initiatives that support student programming and research aimed at advancing racial justice within public policy. Through these initiatives, we develop new tools and strategies in the pursuit of racial justice, resulting in better, evidence-based policy solutions and the cultivation of the next generation of high-impact leaders and thinkers.

Headshot of Celeste Watkins-Hayes

"Effective and just public policy can only be achieved if we bring diverse perspectives to the table."

"As we examine the fraught histories and consequences of some of our policies and the transformative power of others, we learn a valuable lesson: Effective and just public policy can only be achieved if we bring diverse perspectives to the table." - Celeste Watkins-Hayes, founding director
View the news release

Center for Local, State and Urban Policy (CLOSUP)

The Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) conducts, supports and fosters applied academic research to inform local, state, and urban policy issues. One of the Center's key programs is the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS), the nation's only ongoing census-style survey of every unit of general purpose local government across an entire state. Across all of its activities, the Center functions as an information resource for policymakers and practitioners, academics, students, the media, and the public. 

CLOSUP works to foster effective communication between academic researchers, stakeholders, and the policymakers dealing with today's state, local, and urban policy problems. The center also facilitates student engagement with today’s critical policy issues through its CLOSUP in the Classroom Initiative, integrating Ford School students as policy analysts in the center's research activities, bringing the center's findings into the classroom, and supporting student internships with organizations focused on state and local policy.

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MPPS reports

One of the CLOSUP's key programs is the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS), the nation's only ongoing census-style survey of every unit of general-purpose local government across an entire state.
Review MPPS reports

Center on Finance, Law & Policy

The Center on Finance, Law & Policy at the University of Michigan is an interdisciplinary research center which draws together faculty and students from more than a dozen of Michigan’s nineteen schools and colleges to work on a broad range of research projects focused on creating a financial system that is safer, fairer, and better harnessed to the real economy.

Founded in 2013 by faculty from Michigan Law SchoolMichigan Ross School of BusinessMichigan Ford School of Public Policy, and Michigan College of Engineering, the Center on Finance, Law & Policy brings together leading scholars from a broad range of disciplines to conduct theoretical, empirical, and applied research aimed at transforming financial policy, financial regulations, financial products and services, and financial institution management.

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Detroit Metro Area Communities Study

The Detroit Metro Area Communities Study (DMACS) is a University of Michigan initiative, housed at the Ford School, designed to regularly survey a broad, representative group of Detroit residents about their communities, including their expectations, perceptions, priorities, and aspirations.

Education Policy Initiative

The Education Policy Initiative (EPI) is a program within the Ford School that brings together nationally-recognized education policy scholars focused on the generation and dissemination of policy-relevant education research. EPI conducts rigorous, applied, policy-relevant, evidence-based research informed by challenging policy questions that are relevant to education practitioners and are necessary to improve educational outcomes. 

Its primary goals include conducting rigorous research to inform education policy debates in Michigan and nationwide; disseminating best practices in education reform to local, state, and national policymakers, as well as to educational practitioners, parents, and students; training graduate students and others to conduct cutting-edge research in education; and facilitating interactions between students and faculty who share an interest in education reform.

Faculty expert

Christina Weiland

Weiland's research focuses on the effects of early childhood interventions and public policies on children’s development, especially on children from low-income families.
Read more about "Christina Weiland"
Research & insights

Financial aid lagging among low-income students

Research from EPI's Kevin Stange finds that amidst the pandemic, students have difficulties accessing resources needed to navigate the complex financial aid process.
Read more about "Financial aid lagging among low-income students"

International Policy Center 

The International Policy Center (IPC) supports the faculty and students of the University of Michigan and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy in creating new knowledge, fostering considered debate, and developing the policy leaders of tomorrow. The center supports interdisciplinary research, education, policy analysis, and discussion in the areas of prosperity, rights, security, and trade. It engages students through study trips abroad, an international speaker series, internships, and other activities.

The International Policy Center was established at the Ford School in the fall of 2005. IPC is devoted to interdisciplinary research and education that advances the learning of Michigan faculty and students and informs policymakers on policy issues arising from an increasingly globalized world. The goal of their work is to demonstrate how in an interdependent world well-designed policies of governments and international institutions can improve the welfare of people, especially those in developing nations.

Kohn Collaborative for Social Policy

The Kohn Collaborative for Social Policy is a Ford School hub that will catalyze interdisciplinary research and policy impact to promote social equity and inclusion. The collaborative consists of three pillars: Kohn Professors, Kohn Scholars, and Kohn Policy Impact.

Science, Technology, and Public Policy (STPP) program

The Science, Technology, and Public Policy (STPP) program is devoted to interdisciplinary research and teaching on the politics and processes of science and technology policymakingSTPP seeks to improve understanding, analysis, and intervention in science and technology policymaking from two perspectives: first, from the perspective of science and technology for policy, examining how science and technology are used to develop and affect public policies in a wide range of domains such as national security, public health, economic competitiveness, and environmental sustainability; and second, from the perspective of policy for science and technology, examining how policies are developed to promote beneficial scientific and technological development at the international, national, state, and local levels, such as the allocation of research funding and regulation of new research and technologies. 

STPP offers a graduate certificate program that is available to any master's or doctoral student throughout the University of Michigan. The program also runs a seminar series which includes talks from leading scholars and policymakers involved in science and technology policy issues

Research & insights

Facial recognition technology in schools presents multiple problems, shows limited efficacy

The study, “Cameras in the Classroom,” conducted by STPP finds the technology is flawed, inaccurate and contributes to racial inequity.
Read more about "Facial recognition technology in schools presents multiple problems, shows limited efficacy"
Faculty expert

Shobita Parthasarathy

As STPP faculty lead, Parthasarathy is interested in how to develop innovation, and innovation policy, to better achieve public interest and social justice goals. Her new NSF grant will investigate how politics and public trust drive coronavirus response by focusing on the comparative and international politics and policy related to science and technology.
Read more about "Shobita Parthasarathy"

Poverty Solutions

The University of Michigan has a proud tradition of groundbreaking research and teaching on poverty and inequality, and a growing network of top experts in the field. University researchers have made pivotal contributions to knowledge and policymaking in the field of poverty dating back to the 1950s.

Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan takes this legacy to the next level by informing and testing innovative solutions for the prevention and alleviation of poverty. Poverty Solutions seeks to leverage the immense intellectual assets and academic scope of the university to make a major impact on the lives of millions of Americans.

Program in Practical Policy Engagement

The Practical Policy Engagement Program is a university–wide resource housed at the Ford School where it can leverage existing expertise and interdisciplinary approaches to generate policy–relevant research, analysis and learning, as well as improvements in organizational practice. The program aims to advance public policy through engaged learning, policy research, and policy impact. They engage in deliberate and mutually beneficial interactions with people and organizations outside the University who are actively working on—and have the capacity for changing—public policy. Through their work, they hope to radically reshape the culture and purpose of a great public university, create profound policy change, and improve lives for people in the State of Michigan, the nation, and around the world.

Kaltura Video
Strategic Consulting: Engage in Real-World Impact

Weiser Diplomacy Center

The Weiser Diplomacy Center serves as a hub for engagement with the foreign policy community, bringing a diverse cadre of seasoned diplomats and foreign policy experts to campus and creating new opportunities for students and faculty through public events, conferences, internships and fellowships, and more. As part of its launch series in fall 2019, the Weiser Diplomacy Center welcomed an all-star lineup of foreign affairs leaders, including former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Rodham Clinton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, U.S. special representative to North Korea Stephen Biegun, Stephen Hadley, Daniel Fried, and Ambassadors Gerald Feierstein, Deborah McCarthy, Ronald Neumann, and Patrick Theros.

Kaltura Video
Hillary Clinton: Reflections on Foreign Policy: Defense, Diplomacy, and Development

Youth Policy Lab

The Youth Policy Lab coordinates activities to provide information and analyses that social services organizations need to do their jobs most effectively. They develop close, sustainable partnerships with state and local agencies, and help connect our partners with each other to access and leverage one another’s work.

The Youth Policy Lab's mission is to: Build infrastructure to conduct rigorous quantitative research to inform policy in areas relating to youth development, including education, crime, health, and social welfare; Support evidence-based policymaking; Identify and evaluate promising interventions; Disseminate best practices for youth policy and for the formation of data-centered, researcher-practitioner partnerships.

Research & insights

High 5s program

Learn about their High 5s program, which closed almost one-fifth of the achievement gap in Taylor, MI, and NYC.
Read more about "High 5s program"
Faculty expert

Brian Jacob

At the Ford School, Jacob teaches “Economics of Education” among other education policy courses. In 2008, Jacob received the David N. Kershaw Prize, an award given every two years to honor persons who, at under the age of 40, have made a distinguished contribution to the field of public policy.
Read more about "Brian Jacob"
The Ford School's Weiser Diplomacy Center has made the University of Michigan a leading, dynamic hub for engagement with the foreign policy community and a national leader in international policy education.
We tackle critical challenges that support the people of Detroit and its surrounding communities.

Additional research centers

Other U-M research units with which the Ford School has regular interaction include the Institute for Social Research, the nation's longest-standing laboratory for interdisciplinary research in the social sciences, and the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, which has one of the world's largest archives in the social sciences.

Ford School faculty members conduct research in conjunction with numerous other research centers on campus, including: the Center for the Study of Complex Systems, the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute, the Office of Tax Policy Research, the International Institute, the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, the Economic Research Initiative on the Uninsured, the William Davidson Institute, the Population Studies Center, and more.