International Policy Center Home Page

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. 

Research Centers

Center for Racial Justice

The Center for Racial Justice seeks to explore, analyze, and understand how public policies have undermined or advanced the goal of racial equity, illuminating evidence-based solutions and supporting the changemakers who advocate for sound, just, and fair public policies day in and day out. The Center for Racial Justice is a space for all who seek to make positive and lasting changes in our shared society toward just futures for all. The center organizes speakers and event series that foster intellectual engagement and supports 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.


Picture of CRJ fellows

Catalysts for racial justice

Three inaugural Center for Racial Justice visiting fellows—Julian Brave NoiseCat, Makeda Easter, and Atinuke (Tinu) O. Adediran—reflect on the work they've pursued during their year at the Ford School.
View the story

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.

People sharing a public space with greenery, tables, umbrellas, and open space

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.

Remote video URL

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. DMACS is a reliable source for timely and relevant public opinion data in a changing Detroit. Since 2016, DMACS has conducted citywide surveys on topics including crime and policing, community health, housing and blight, entrepreneurship, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Education Policy Initiative

Since its founding in 2012, the Ford School's Education Policy Initiative (EPI) has generated and supported rigorous research to help policymakers make evidence-based investments that address institutional and systemic barriers and educational inequities. An interdisciplinary and nationally recognized team of educators, economists, sociologists, statisticians, and data scientists use and teach others how to use causal research methods to identify the impact of specific policies, programs, and practices that improve educational outcomes—and determine which do not.

Through a distinctive partnership with the State of Michigan, EPI operates the Michigan Education Data Center (MEDC), a secure data clearinghouse that houses over 7.5 million education records. This powerful resource helps researchers answer quetsions about early learning and literacy, school choice, P-20 pathways, college affordability, and much more.

On campus, students gain knowledge and experience through specialized courses, events, and the pre-and post-doctoral fellowship programs. The Causal Inference in Education Research Seminar is a cornerstone of EPI's efforts to train the next generation of education policy researchers.

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.
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.
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.

Leadership Initiative

The Ford School's Leadership Initiative develops and offers a growing suite of graduate and undergraduate student leadership courses, coaching, and extracurricular programs that build on and complement the school's excellent, rigorous curriculum. At the Ford School, we believe that leadership is a behavioral process, and that learning it is a critical part of the preparation we offer to policy professionals. We help our students focus on self-awareness, mindfulness, observation, resilience, understanding difference, and navigating conflict to cultivate skills to lead projects and people. We help them be intentional about their own growth and development, to inspire and equip students to become agents of positive change in the world.

Kaltura Video

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 the research
Faculty expert

Shobita Parthasarathy

"As science and technology have become central to our daily lives, we need policy professionals who are able to anticipate the social, ethical, and economic implications of scientific and technological changes and have the skills to design policies that advance shared values and maximize public benefit."
Read more about STPP's founding

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.

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 uses rigorous evaluation design and data analysis to help community and government agencies make evidence-based decisions that strengthen programs and improve well-being for youth and families. 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. Key projects impact all ages. They include an elementary math curriculum that closes achievement gaps, bringing mental health interventions to Detroit and school districts across the country, and improving how young people prepare for and succeed in early adulthood.


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.
High 5s program
Faculty expert

Brian Jacob

One of America's top education policy scholars, Jacob teaches “Economics of Education” among other education policy courses at the Ford School. He was honored with U-M's 2021 Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award and U-M's 2019 Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award. 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 Jacob's profile
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.