Join Ford School Associate Dean Luke Shaefer November 8 at 6:30 EST to learn how a Ford School master’s degree can help you make an impact on the public good at this critical time. November, 2021.
0:00:56.6 Beth: Good evening everyone, thank you for joining us tonight, we're really glad to have you with us. We're also really delighted to have our Associate Dean for Research, Luke Shaefer with us this evening, and so we get a very, very nice opportunity to chat with Luke and to get his take on some of the things going on at the Ford School right now. So Luke was just... Just received a name... Named Chair this past week, and we had a very big celebration of our new Kohn Collaborative for Social Policy, so a very exciting week for Luke and certainly for the school. So we'll just kick off Luke with asking you sort of to talk to us a little bit about why you think graduate school, a Master's degree in Public Policy or Public Affairs is relevant and important right now.
0:01:50.8 Luke Shaefer: Great, thanks Beth, and thanks to the whole team for putting this together, it's great to see you all and to get a chance to talk about my favorite place, the Ford School. So I really love the training that we do here because I think it combines the analytical rigor of learning how to analyze policies with practical application that really has an impact on people's lives. So so many of our students do projects while they're here that really impact communities, impact policy for cities, and I say in Detroit especially, we have a lot of partnerships, other cities at the State level, we have students who work with us with the State of Michigan and at the federal level. So I love the Master's of Public Policy training and the Master's of Public Administration training, because there is this focus on methods, you're gonna get trained to really be a good consumer of research, be able to figure out what are the studies that have really dealt with selection bias? Have really thought about how to prove what they're actually trying to prove, and you're gonna learn skills to evaluate your own programs if you're a policy administrator.
0:03:14.5 LS: So you'll be able to tell what's the best research and be able to speak about that, be able to advise a senator or representative or a president about what are the right directions, the evidence-based directions to go? And also bring those tools into your own work, and if you're an administrator running your... Running programs, and I think that's really, really important because we can have values about the way the programs, our goals for programs, but a lot of times the policies and the programs that we implement at every level of government don't actually work the way that we think that they should, and sometimes they actually can even harm people. And so really getting those analytic skills, both in quantitative methods as well as qualitative methods where we can really understand how people think about the programs and experience of the programs around them, I think are really, really key to building policy, policy that works for people, policy that works for families.
0:04:28.6 LS: And then that second piece of practical application, so we have all of these different centers across the Ford School, we have this new center for racial justice that I'm incredibly excited about, run by my counterpart, Celeste Watkins-Hayes, she's the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and she's also the director of this new center, and she's done, I think, this really amazing job bringing in world class speakers to speak on a range of issues related to structural racism, racial justice, with a focus on how we make policies right some of the wrongs that we experienced in our country. She also is starting to build a really cool fellowship program for change makers, and so we are hoping to make the Ford School a hub for change makers who are working on issues related to racial justice all over the country to come and share information with our students, share information with our communities and build knowledge.
0:05:40.2 LS: We have other centers that work on digitizing records, we have a group that's working with the City of Flint on digitizing a lot of records, which sounds sort of a name but as a policy wonk, I know how incredibly important that is, it's important for transparency, it's important for people to be able to get access to information about themselves, about their city, and it's important for policy making for us to really understand what's going on in the programs we serve. So that's what I think is really exciting about this degree is our students really come out equipped, both with a new set of skills, as well as experience putting those skills into action in ways that impact at the world, and I think it really sets them up either to take the next step in their career, go wherever they are, sort of take that leap into the next step, sometimes make career change where people wanna move from one focus to another. Different stages of the career.
0:06:49.7 LS: And so, this is why I think this kind of training really equips people for success going forward. And also, honestly, I find the Ford School just to be an incredibly special community, a community that really cares. What I really appreciate is, we're not really a place of big egos, people who think I am great and I need to sort of talk about how I'm great and other people maybe not so great. It's really, I think, a group of people who really care. They know that often policy isn't perfect, sometimes policy is harmful, but really believe that policy can be used to enhance good, right? To help empower families to live healthy and productive lives or really have an impact on some of our challenges like, climate change, where we have a lot of faculty that focus. And so, it's a group of people who really wanna be about the work and let evidence guide us, and then understand how that evidence through sorta political processes can become policy.
0:08:09.3 Beth: Thank you, Luke. So this is a question I get a lot from prospective students, so I'm gonna pass it on to you, and talk about this a little bit, right? So, many of the students that are here with us tonight are looking at graduate schools in a lot of different places, and so, for you, how would you differentiate the Ford School? What makes us different? That's sort of... We all hear that question in a variety of different iterations, but at the heart of it, what makes us unique?
0:08:44.0 LS: So I do think it starts with the academics, as I mentioned, we have a very strong training and analysis for some folks who are really interested in that. You know, maybe I have done some of that before, they can take the next step in that work and go really deep. I think for some students, it's the first introduction to regression analysis or randomized control trials, but I think it can be a real introduction and it can really equip students to be comfortable in that space going forward in their careers. There's also a focus on sort of the politics of policy making, right? And understanding how things really happen in the real world. And I remember talking with one of my colleagues about a debate and they said, "How much did evidence matter in this particular debate?" And he said, "Oh, a lot, it was like 10%." So we know that the politics of policy-making really matters, and so, we wanna combine, right? We really think evidence matters, and we wanna figure out the ways to integrate that evidence into policy making.
0:10:04.5 LS: One of the things that I think really makes the Ford School strong is its interdisciplinary range. So we have economists like Betsey Stevenson, who was on President Obama's Council for Economic Advisers. Michael Barr, our Dean, was an assistant Secretary of Treasury, and has served in two presidential administrations. In fact, actually, I looked back recently and found, we've had faculty who have served in the Presidential administration, with one or two exceptions going back to the Nixon administration. So, we have scholars who are engaged at the very highest level of government. Economists, sociologists, like Paula Lantz, who is a very highly regarded Public Health Scholar and a sociologist, who has been deeply engaged over the last two years with the State of Michigan COVID response that was extremely strong in the first year, has been... She was sharing an amicus brief that she was writing on sort of a major policy, public health policy issue.
0:11:29.2 LS: We have a set of scholars studying education, education economists, I would say we probably have the strongest set of education economists who... Actually, one of the great stories at the Ford School, one of the sort of... When we talk about bringing research into impact is the story of the University of Michigan's Go Blue Guarantee. So, that started actually with an insight from our, two of our faculty, one who was on the faculty has moved back to Harvard, which was Cambridge was home for her originally, and another who's actually just joined us, Kathy Michelmore. So, Sue Dynarski and Kathy Michelmore, were looking at the research and found actually that high achieving low-income students, students who could get into the University of Michigan, we had the administrative records from the State of Michigan Department of Education, we were able to see that a lot of those students didn't apply to Michigan. And the theory behind that was that low income students who... And this was out of quantitative work, but also a lot of qualitative work, they assumed that they couldn't afford a place like the University of Michigan.
0:12:51.6 LS: But in truth, actually, at the undergraduate level, U of M has greater resources than a lot of other schools. So, while the sticker price might be higher... For some of those students, they might actually get a better deal at the University of Michigan than they might get somewhere else. But there was an information failure there. And so, this experiment was to see if we did a better job of sharing information, could we impact the number of those students who apply? And they worked with the Department of Admissions for the undergraduate program at U of M, and they... It was so cool, they actually sent a coupon to... They found... They could see these kids with a GPA and test scores that they could get into Michigan, but who were low income in the data, we could look at... They could see free and reduced price lunch.
0:13:52.0 LS: And they could send a coupon for free tuition, so it's basically, students got a packet and it said, "If you are admitted to the University of Michigan, we guarantee you full tuition, financial aid, full coverage for four years." And it turned out that that was actually not... That was... There was not a change in policy, it was just a change in how we communicated that, right? So those students the year before, if they had applied and got admitted, they would have gotten the same thing, but by communicating and in a very different way, a very simplified way, the study actually showed a huge increase in the fraction of these students will apply. And it really changed the socio-economic profile of the incoming class. And so, based on that research, the University of Michigan has implemented this new universal policy called the Go Blue Guarantee, where if your family income is below $60,000, you're guaranteed full tuition financial aid.
0:15:06.7 LS: So I think it's just such a lovely example of research really proving something and then that turning into action, and a lot of other schools are starting to adopt policies like this, because of the success that you U of M has had. I'm also really, really excited about our leadership initiative, so that's something that we've integrated over the last two years. I would say this year is the first year it's like, full steam ahead. I got to teach a new class as part of that. I usually teach classes on social welfare policy, and so, those classes are often a little bit about how you research policies and a lot about sort of the social safety net in my case, right? It's like a content area class, where we're learning about programs like food assistance. And of course, I've done a lot of work related to the child tax credit for many, many years, and so, my students have sort of taken that journey with me, from being a part of developing the idea, of converting the child tax credit into something looks more like a universal child allowance.
0:16:26.3 LS: And then as an academic idea, and then seeing that sort of adopted as a policy over time. So, this new class, I thought is on conflict resolution. And I have done a lot of work with the State of Michigan, their Health and Human Services Department. So, Paula works on the health side, I do work on the human services side. And I could see how much of policy decisions and every day-to-day functioning, of how programs are administered had to do with, not like big P politics, but sort of day-to-day interactions with people, and the history they have and how they deal with conflict. And then actually conflict across departments, where you see these long-standing things between this department and that department, and I don't wanna do anything for you. You don't wanna do anything for me. So, that got me really, really interested in skills to learn how to address conflict in a constructive way.
0:17:44.2 LS: And I just think a lot about society and the conflicts that we have. I think these skills are really applicable to that. And they also, I think, are really applicable for the important conversations that we need to have about race and racial justice in this country. So this class is a one-credit course that's a part of this leadership initiative, and it's all about, how do I build conflict resolution skills that I can use as I go on into leadership positions. And it's paired with another negotiation course where you learn skills very explicitly for when I'm trying to negotiate something. So there's sort of two related courses that go together. I've heard a huge... You know, a lot of positive feedback about the assessments that students are doing as a part of this program. So I just think it's been a really, really nice combination of bringing alongside our analysis classes and our policy content, and even the politics of policy making classes. This I think in-depth leadership initiative that really helps students figure out what are their skills, how do they... What are their predisposition when it comes to addressing conflict, and how can I build on strengths and really help work on those areas where I could use some improvement?
0:19:24.8 Beth: So, just to, I don't know, widen our gaze a little bit, 'cause I agree there are so many exciting things going on within the Ford School, but one thing that I hear from a lot of students is, I love the ability to take classes across campus at the University Of Michigan, and to be able to really draw an access from all of these different really well-respected programs. So I'm just wondering your thoughts about sort of how people bring that to... I mean, there's obviously all the raft with dual degrees and graduate certificates and all that, those formal ways, but even the informal ways that students can really interact with the experts in so many different areas.
0:20:02.3 LS: Yeah, you know, there's kind of a joke at the University of Michigan about our graduate programs that like, if they fall out of the top 10 or 15, we just get rid of the program. So I think what's really quite unusual about Michigan is how much strength we have across so many different dimensions. So, just in our little cluster, you have the Ford School, number one in social policy, that's my area. Number seven among public policy and public administration schools. We sit right next to the law school, right? We actually... You know, we're literally a stone's throw away from the law school, which is a top 10 law school. And I've taught classes at the law school, they have a really cool problem-solving initiative, that some of our students go over to. You get a lot of those types of opportunities as a Ford School, with the applied policy seminar.
0:21:09.4 LS: And I know our diplomacy center has a real focus on policy simulations and they do a lot of that work. But over in the law school, my colleague, JJ Prescott, he's really interested in fines and fees, and that's really interesting to me too, where we see a lot of times, families who are economically vulnerable, they get caught up in fines and fees that have been vastly increased, by state and local governments over the years, and I think have a really sort of poverty-increasing impact. Then just around the corner from them is the Business School, and we have the center for... I think Center for Social Development at the business school has a really neat non-profit board, program, where if you're admitted to that, then you sit on the board of a non-profit organization, like a... I think a high-functioning non-profit organization and you get some hands-on experience with that responsibility of having oversight over an organization.
0:22:20.2 LS: The School of Social Work is the number one ranked school of social work in the country, and we have students, I think that are... There's obviously overlap, there are some classes over there on community organizing that a lot of our students sometimes take. Some of our students may be really interested in mental health, and may wanna take some of the clinical classes over at the School of Social Work, or maybe a class in cognitive behavioral therapy. That's one thing, CBT is a form, that we've seen a lot of positive evidence base around. So I'm sort of a cash transfer guy, I usually just like to give people the money, sort of cash out our programs, but there's some really neat programs like Ready Chicago, which is a gang violence prevention program that pairs a subsidized job with cognitive behavioral therapy.
0:23:16.1 LS: And idea behind cognitive behavioral therapy is if... Both, helping people, grapple with the trauma in their lives over the long term, but also giving them very concrete skills, that can help them in those moments, of sort of high stress, high anxiety, maybe, I'm gonna feel like I absolutely have to leave my job at that moment, or maybe I'm gonna feel like I need to get into a violent altercation and CBT can really help people in those moments. So, then of course, we have the engineering school, one of the top ranked engineering schools in the nation. We have had really interesting partnerships around clean water with them. I was just reading about our faculty, former associate Dean, Liz Gruber, who has been doing a lot of work around transportation, accessibility of transportation, and there's a lot going on with self-driving cars over there.
0:24:20.9 LS: Now, Ford School is great because we sort of sit in the middle of all this, so we also have the center STPP programs, Science and Technology Policy Program, STPP. It's actually a certificate program for folks who are interested in sort of engaging at the intersection of science and technology and public policy. And we have students that are housed at the Ford School, but we have students from all these different places. And then, a top medical school, so, a lot of the evidence around the Affordable Care Act that actually was done at Michigan, because the state expanded Medicaid and we had a very comprehensive evaluation program, that was a part of that. So you can just see like, one problem at the University of Michigan is that the opportunities are really endless, right? There's always an incredible speaker. And I really do suggest as you were saying that, you may wanna do a dual degree program, that's something to consider, and consider sort of the added costs, compared to sort of the added benefit.
0:25:41.0 LS: A lot of people really... They really want to be experts in two areas, and so, I think people are really drawn to that, but you also... I would really encourage you to take a class in the Law School or take a class in the School of Public Health, that's another great school at the university or the School of Education. And, I just saw a class on... An entire class on strategies for enhancing the diversity of a work... Of an education workforce, faculty at schools. So, I think sort of getting out and taking classes across the departments is really, really smart and worthwhile. And I think we really tried to support that.
0:26:31.0 LS: I might just say, a few, words about the faculty, the Ford School in particular, 'cause as I mentioned, that's an incredibly inter-disciplinary crew. I was trained in social service administration, social work, we have economists, we have sociologists, we have political scientists, and so, that really just makes it very exciting, I think robust conversation as we talk across different perspectives of the world, sort of compare notes from different research methods, and... You know, Celeste and I were just talking about one thing we really appreciate about the Ford School is, we really care deeply about teaching.
0:27:22.4 LS: So she just was at a program called Course Mart, that is a little preview of the courses coming in, a lot of faculty come in and sort of pitch their course and students can... It's kinda like the movie trailers, I don't know if people... Sometimes my wife and I just watch the trailers thing on our Apple TV, 'cause we like watching the movie trailers. So, a lot of times, students might connect with a faculty member for a class, you may sort of start in a class, you think I really like the way this person interprets the world and I wanna do more to work with them. Sometimes folks do an independent study, right? And so, they might sort of take something that they started in class and go deeper with it. At Poverty Solutions, that's the center I run. Our mission is to partner with communities and policy makers to find new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty.
0:28:25.5 LS: We work a lot in the City of Detroit. I have team members that are embedded at City Hall, and I have team members who are embedded at The State of Michigan, just trying to bring evidence to whatever the priorities are of residents, of the places we're working, or community-based organizations, or policy makers, we really try to have our work driven by what rises up. That means we end up studying a lot of really unusual things. We have a whole research agenda around the cost of auto insurance in Michigan, which is the highest in the nation, and incredibly unequal in terms of who pays what for what kind of auto insurance. I had a great Ford School student who went on to a terrific job at Mathematica as a policy researcher who worked in our home repair agenda in the City of Detroit.
0:29:24.3 LS: So, we've done a lot of work around tax foreclosure in the city, trying to reduce a crisis of huge numbers of houses being lost to tax foreclosure. And working with some really great community-based organizations, then the city we're... The city was able to really, slow that down and, I think start to reverse some of the most harmful effects. But as people started, again, becoming home owners of places that had been rentals, there was a lot of disrepair. And so, we sort of surprisingly to ourselves, because it's not something we were sort of looking to go research ended up learning a lot about building home repair programs that work for people, and Rian got really fired up... Her name is Rian Rosario. She got really fired up about a home repair guy where there was no resource for Detroiters to know what programs are out there. And so, she built this really wonderful product that just very succinctly, using language that could be consumed by a wide audience, built this home repair book. And I actually almost nixed the process, 'cause I was worried we were gonna post it, and nobody's gonna read it. And then it was gonna go out of date very quickly.
0:30:56.0 LS: And that thing is maybe one of our best sellers, honestly. We don't sell it, we... It's freely available, but we kept on printing copies in the Land Bank, they wanted it, the city now, it's... It's given out at city hall, community-based organizations, it just filled this need. And I think, because she was able to sort of be listening and sort of be in the conversation, she was able to see that. And so, I'm really proud that we did that and I'm also glad that I didn't stop the project. So, we have at the Education Policy Initiative where that Hale Scholarship Globally Guarantee came out of. I know folks who work as research assistants, sometimes students end up working on academic articles with faculty. And so, I think just that exciting sort of both in-class opportunities to have impact, and then deep in that impact is a lot of what makes the Ford School the special place that it is.
0:32:10.7 Beth: Thank you, Luke, those are all great examples. And Rian was terrific, and it's so interesting since her background was with Peace Corp and she just had a national focus. And so, I'm gonna ask you one more question, but I'm also gonna tell our guests that if they have questions that they would like to drop in the chat that we will look at those.
0:32:30.4 LS: Okay.
0:32:31.0 Beth: So I'm just really curious, so the Kohn Collaborative just kicked off last week with a big celebration, and I'm thinking, I would love to hear a little bit about your goals for that and what you're hoping to see develop. We've had a lot of really great new programs coming out, and I think this is just a really exciting opportunity, so I would just love to hear a little bit about that.
0:32:52.7 LS: Yeah, we have built a relationship with a wonderful family, the Hal and Carol Kohn, who actually aren't graduates of the Ford School, Hal is a U of M graduate, but were really attracted to this connection for trying to make evidence, influence and sort of shape social policy for the public good, and to really do things that matter. And so, they have endowed a set of professorships, including the one that I now have, the Hermann and Amalie Kohn professorship, but another a set of four more, and the goal is to really bring even more world class scholars to the school, who are really committed to that kinda work, of saying, my work matters when it matters in the world. So, one of those professorships is gonna be around disabilities, sort of disability policy, and making sure that folks that might have physical challenges are able to be full participants in society.
0:34:09.2 LS: I think that there's one on... Trying to think what the other ones are on. I know that we have one on diversity, equity, and inclusion. And so, we're gonna have these professorships, and there's a set of student support combined with the new permanent fund for policy impact, and there's still work to be done to figure out exactly how that's gonna be used. But a lot of the ideas is trying to figure out how do we get even more of our faculty and more of our students engaged in bringing evidence to bear on policy in very concrete ways. Just as an example, I testified before the House of Representatives, special sub-committee... Select sub-committee on the Coronavirus pandemic. And so, I had done some research on the economic impact payments and expanded unemployment insurance, and then of course, I've been following the roll out of the child tax credit and what's amazing in the data is that these payments go out and you can see things like the proportion of Americans saying they're having trouble putting food on the table just plummets.
0:35:30.3 LS: And then another EIP goes out and again, the entire rates of hardship just plummet. So, we actually have a lot more evidence now than I would say that we've ever had before that cash transfers really matter. And expanded unemployment insurance, that's another great example where when you combine those things... We entered into the worst economic crisis of any of our lifetimes, and somehow food insecurity stayed stable. It didn't go up. Usually in recessions you see food insecurity just blow up very high. Poverty actually went down. Credit scores have improved. And people who are falling behind on their mortgage or their auto loan or credit card bills, have all dropped. So pretty amazing times. So, my research on that with my incredible colleague, Pat Cooney, was covered in the New York Times, PBS News Hour. And so, they asked us... They asked me to come on our behalf to talk about that. How many solutions... Actually, I was the fourth staff member who's testified before Congress.
0:36:42.0 LS: Joshua Vera testified on auto insurance for Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. Our staff member, Josh Edmonds testified about the digital divide and the digital inclusion, which we have some work on. And then our colleague Jenner Downward testified about homelessness and housing instability among public school students. And actually her work has been a part of bringing 800 million in extra dollars to supportive services for homeless and housing insecure students. So, we don't... We are thinking about ways that we use this money to really leverage it to do even more of that. Betsey Stevenson just testified before Congress. Maybe we can get even more of our faculty testifying more sort of in the public sphere and support more projects with students to do the kind of impactful work that we wanna do.
0:37:51.0 Beth: Yeah, it's a very exciting time to see all these... I see one or the other of your faculty colleagues in the New York Times every other day, I feel like, so it's a really exciting time for that.
0:38:03.3 LS: We're gonna send them an invoice pretty soon.
0:38:08.4 Beth: Wow, fair enough. So if anybody has a question that they wanna just unmute themselves and ask, feel free, or like I said, drop it in the chat. We don't have a... We've got this scheduled to go through 7:15, so we don't have a ton of time, but would be happy to answer any questions that folks might have. I see that Shirley has raised her hand, so Shirley please... It's nice to see your face. And Shirley did our summer program a few years ago, so it's nice to see her.
0:38:35.3 Shirley: Yes, hi.
0:38:36.5 Beth: Ask your question.
0:38:36.5 Shirley: Hi, Beth. Hi, Trisha, and hi, Dean Shaefer. Thank you so much for taking time to just talk a little bit more about the Ford School programs, and I know as you were talking, I was just so fascinated. I was just at an economic briefing for work a little earlier, and just kind of hearing you alluding to the research that you had done, and they were citing from The New York Times, and so it's interesting to just see that all tied together. I'm kind of curious as a prospective student who is interested in a wide variety of the research and the program and the good work that's being done at Ford. As a prospective student coming in, what advice do you give for someone who might be interested in... As you were talking about the child tax credit and some of the work that you're doing. How can a student show that they have a piqued interest in that and potentially open doors that way, especially coming right in out the gate, assuming admission in a weekend.
0:39:53.9 LS: Yeah, great. So I would say I think there's two paths, Shirley. There's the one path of... It sounded like maybe you're saying that you're interested in a lot of these different avenues. And so one option might be to come for the first semester, and really take the broad approach to say, "I wanna try to take some classes." I know there's some core classes at the very beginning that you have to take, but just try to get some exposure to a number of different types, maybe an education class, 'cause you think maybe education policy is the way to go, and a social policy class. And one of the great things about being a student is that there's just not that many periods in adulthood where you can really open the door and say, "You know what? I'm just gonna take a little bit of time and explore," and see really, where... What's the thing. When you take a class, or you work on a project, or you go to a talk, what are the things that I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about? Or when I wake up, the first thing in the morning.
0:41:14.6 LS: And so you could take an approach of saying, "I'm gonna come in, I wanna try to get a lot of different kinds of exposure, I'm gonna take classes from different kinds of faculty and I'm gonna listen to myself for a little while." And say, maybe some folks maybe had expertise in a certain... Maybe they came in with really strong data analysis skills and they find they're a lot more interested in the politics process, or maybe it's the other way around. And suddenly, you're like, "You know what? Turns out I'm a data nerd and I didn't realize it this whole time, so I wanna go down that road." And so then I think you can think about a lot of that happening in the first year and then honing in on some real foci in the second semester, or maybe just the summer as you've got your internship over the summer if you're doing a two-year program.
0:42:15.7 LS: The Master's in Public Administration, that's a one-year program, that goes by really, really fast, so I don't know if this advice is as equivalent. Although I still think the more that you can come in, and just give yourself the opportunity to let the doors be open for a little bit, I think that can be a really good way to go 'cause there's just not that many more chances. The other thing I think to do is, if you are really into something, maybe it's poverty solutions if I'm lucky. So it's good to reach out early on. If you know you're coming, I think you could send a note to me for sure, or you could send a note to the folks at CLOSUP if you are... CLOSUP has this... That's the Center for Local and State Policy. They have this incredible survey of local policymakers in Michigan. It's, I think, the only thing like it in the world where they get this information and we have... We also have the Detroit Metropolitan Area Community Survey, which is a representative sample of Detroiters and panel, how are they feeling about how things are going in the city.
0:43:29.5 LS: So you can reach out early on and say, "You know what? I'm coming, I know that what you're doing is exactly what I wanna be doing and I'd like to... Any opportunities to work with you would be of interest to me." And sometimes I think it's still... It may take a semester to get in, but I think starting that process early, and just signaling interest, and some of those ways are independent study. You can say, "I'd love to do an independent study on this." And I think taking that initiative is often really well received. So there's two paths, just hone in if you know what you want and just go for it. And you don't have to wait to be here. I think you can start reaching out ahead of time and figure out where the opportunities might be, or come and give yourself the chance to explore and spend a little time exploring and then hone in as time goes on. I'm happy to stay, Beth. I went a little long 'cause I was thinking they're gone. I'm happy to take a couple more questions for anyone who wants to stay on the line.
0:44:40.1 Beth: Thank you, Luke. That's great. Anybody else who would like to chime in and ask a question while we're all here? Aaron.
0:44:51.9 LS: It's like Aaron's got his hand raised.
0:44:53.9 Beth: Yep.
0:44:54.7 Aaron: Yeah, hi. I'm a current PA student thinking to apply for the master's program. And I was just curious if you had any insight or thoughts on how the master's program prepares for a PhD or work in research?
0:45:13.8 LS: Yeah, great question. So I think the biggest question... Let me just say a few words about the PhD. So our PhD program really trains folks to be academic researchers. And it's a joint PhD in public policy, and one of the social sciences. So we have a strong partnership with sociology, a strong partnership with economics and political science. And the program really... You not only would be like a consumer of research, not only be able to use research tools in your work, it's gonna train you to become an expert researcher where you would become... Be trained to build a research agenda, know how to really lead those projects. So, the key question with a PhD program is if you're ready to say that's what you really want your training to be.
0:46:27.4 LS: If you have enough information to say, "You know what? I love research. I love the process of discovery. I care about issues and I might have ideas on how to address them, but I'm also ready to embark on a life where I can always be proven wrong about everything that I thought was true and be open to that." It's actually kind of hard for a lot of people, right? And also, that scholarly life is just constant review, of peer review, of getting your paper in and having somebody tell you it's terrible and you gotta keep on going and just make it better and be a part of that process.
0:47:19.0 LS: So if you are interested in that, then there's actually... There's a couple of different routes. I think a lot of PhD programs might say... Maybe the best thing to do is go and get a research type job outside of undergrad, so you get some hands-on experience. A lot of our candidates might go to The Urban Institute or maybe there's a Mathematica job, or a lot of folks who work at the Federal Reserve. So they're coming out of undergraduate and they're getting some of those research skills. We like it because we feel like maybe you have even more information to know that this is the right career for you. So you could go straight through and get a Master's degree, but if you're really sure that you wanna get a PhD, a lot of the programs, you can get a master's degree along the way, and that can actually be sort of...
0:48:19.6 LS: 'Cause PhD programs pay a stipend because we're asking you to be in school for a really long time, then that might be a sort of a financially better set up than to get a master's degree and then go straight into PhD, if you can get both in a funded package. But that is a long... You're thinking getting those two degrees together, you're talking six years of school and then starting in the job market after that. And so I think most of our master's students, they are really interested in... They really like research, they really love data in many different forms, but they really wanna be out working in the world, in policy, at the state or in... We have lots of folks who work in the White House and staff jobs on Capitol Hill. So that's sort of the key distinction, and then I think figuring out what's the best way to get there coming out of undergraduate. With only knowing what you've told me, Aaron, I might say it might make sense to work in research for a while, come back and get the two degrees together. But there's no real wrong answer, so you could come through.
0:49:42.1 LS: And if you were gonna do the master's program with an eye towards PhD, then I think you wanna just make your training here as research-heavy as possible. So if you're thinking of being a quantitative researcher, we have a course, an Econometrics course, which will give you sort of more about the very concrete skills that you can use for quantitative analysis that gets you closer to being able to say things are causally related. And so that would be the key, is just like, whether you're doing it out in the field or you're doing it in master's degree, just showing the research life is what you're ready to sign up for. I see Patricia has a hand up.
0:50:27.4 Patricia: Hi, I would like to ask a very specific question. I'm terribly sorry if this is so specific, but I wanted to make sure I asked. So I am currently working at IPA, which is Innovations for Poverty Action in the Mexico City office, so we have been working on RCTs and all of the things that IPA does. So I'm interested in the fields of criminal justice in the sense of getting my Social Policy concentration, but I would like to know which are the opportunities for a person with my goals to get into this scope of work and these topics in specific. You mentioned that there's an overlap, I would like to know if there's more opportunities for people with my interests.
0:51:13.5 LS: Yeah, so many of our research centers... My center is Poverty Solutions, and I do have a randomized control... We have an RCT going on, but we do a much broader range of stuff, and so we do a lot of work... You can look in... If you look especially at our policy briefs, a lot of it is working directly with policy makers on evidence-based strategies and then seeing how evaluation... The tools that we have to evaluate, watch as things go, but outside of the RCT framework. So RCT is sort of like... We don't have anyone, I think, that expressly says, "What we wanna do are randomized control trials." We have folks who have a focus on education, on poverty, on science and technology say, "We wanna study this and we're gonna use the best tools at our disposal for how to do that."
0:52:20.1 LS: Now, one thing that we really have is a ton of people who are working in partnership with government, and so it sounds like that would be a really good match for you. It's like, how do you combine the tools that we have as scholars, as researchers and as an institution of higher education to really have an impact on policy in a meaningful way? And I think we do that at Poverty Solutions, the Youth Policy Lab does a ton of that, they have team members embedded in the state government. CLOSUP, who are doing all this work with local government and our program for policy engagement, practical policy engagement. We do have some folks that are doing work on criminal justice. That's actually a place that we're hoping to build strength as time goes on as well.
0:53:18.5 LS: Jeff Morenoff has done a lot of work in this area, he's a faculty member of ours with Sociology, and we have a new faculty member in economics and at the Institute for Social Research who's built the biggest clearing house of administrative data on corrections in the United States. So I think, yeah, there are opportunities to get involved expressly in criminal justice, there'll definitely be some course work on that, and lots of opportunities to watch at the intersection of academics and policy making. Okay. Well, it was really great to meet you. I think that Ford School's a special place, and I hope to see you there next fall.
0:54:11.9 Beth: Thank you, Luke, we really appreciate your time. I just wanna mention really quickly that we're gonna have our second webinar a week from today, so next Monday at noon, and we're gonna talk about some of the tools that we talked about earlier. So talking with John Hanson, who's our master's program director and some of our faculty members that teach some of those core courses. So we would be delighted to have you come join us for that, and if you have any... So Trish just dropped in the chat, if you have questions, at the [email protected] mailbox is a good place to start, we're happy to make those connections. So, just wanna say thank you all again for coming, to you, Luke, for giving us your time tonight. We really appreciate it and look forward to continued conversations. Thanks, everybody. Take care.
0:55:19.7 Beth: Should I stop the recording?
0:55:22.7 Speaker 6: Yes.