The Institute for Policy Research (IPR) is an interdisciplinary public policy research institute founded in 1968 at Northwestern University. Our mission is to stimulate and support excellent social science research on significant public policy issues and to disseminate the findings widely—to students, scholars, policymakers, and the public.
As part of Northwestern University, IPR comes under the Office for Research, but it also works closely with other schools and departments, in particular, the School of Education and Social Policy, the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Law, Feinberg School of Medicine, and the Kellogg School of Management, among others.
Currently, IPR counts 42 faculty fellows and 87 faculty associates, together with research associates, visiting scholars, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate research assistants. They are drawn largely from sociology, political science, economics, education and social policy, communications, and management. Scholars, students, and staff organize and participate in research projects, seminars, conferences, policy research briefings, and workshops.
IPR’s director is David Figlio, an education economist, and its associate director is James Druckman, a political scientist. They marshal IPR’s faculty members and research processes, aided by the members of IPR’s executive committee and a staff of administrators, researchers, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate and undergraduate research assistants.
IPR faculty experts are dedicated to conducting top-notch social science research and then translating those findings into policy-relevant, scalable solutions. Given the complexity of the policymaking process, IPR faculty research interests have evolved over the years to meet new challenges in defining and measuring social problems. Current IPR research falls broadly into eight research areas and two associated research centers:
- Social Disparities and Health
Cells to Society (C2S): The Center on Social Disparities and Health
- Quantitative Methods for Policy Research
Q-Center: Center for Improving Methods for Quantitative Policy Research
- Education Policy
- Politics, Institutions, and Public Policy
- Performance Measurement and Rewards
- Child, Adolescent, and Family Studies
- Poverty, Race, and Inequality
- Urban Policy and Community Development
Faculty publish their research in many of the leading journals for their particular discipline, in addition to working paper series, chapters, books, monographs, and reports.
The IPR Working Paper Series is on the of the oldest social policy series in the nation, having released more than 400 faculty-written working papers since 1969. Papers from 2002 onward can be found online.
IPR also produces the following publications:
- Year in Review – the annual report for the Institute, which provides a comprehensive summary of its activities over the year, including brief overviews of current faculty research projects
- Newsletter – a biannual publication, which includes the latest news and research from the Institute
- e-News – sent out between September and June, which includes breaking news, research, event information, and updates.
One of the key ways in which IPR disseminates its faculty research is through its events. Events are held throughout year, with most taking place over the academic year. Some are co-sponsored with different departments and schools across the University, in addition to student and other policy research organizations.
All events, unless otherwise stated, are free of charge and open to the public.
IPR has five colloquium series:
IPR Fay Lomax Cook Monday Colloquia – IPR’s signature, interdisciplinary colloquium series, which takes place Mondays from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. Speakers are typically IPR fellows or associates, discussing their latest policy-relevant research. Organizer: David Figlio
IPR C2S Colloquia – This occasional series brings together social, life, and biomedical scientists who examine how broad social, racial/ethnic, and economic disparities "get under the skin" and affect human development and physical health. Organizer: Thomas McDade
IPR Q-Center Colloquia – This series is designed to showcase and promote discussion of methodological innovation across disciplines. Four to five are held over the academic year, usually on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. Organizer: Larry Hedges
IPR Series on Performance Measurement and Rewards – Speakers examine how good performance is measured in areas such as education, healthcare, policing, courts, and charities—in search of common problems and solutions. They are held in fall and spring, usually on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. Organizer: Burton Weisbrod
Applied Micro and Labor & Education Policy Seminar Series – This series, joint with Northwestern’s Department of Economics, takes place on Thursdays from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. The applied economists tackle myriad subjects in education, developmental economics, social policy, and other areas. Organizer: Lee Lockwood
Two of IPR’s key policy-relevant events are its:
- Distinguished Public Policy Lectures that provide insights from experts whose careers are characterized by exceptional scholarship and service in the public policy arena
- Policy Research Briefings, which bring together leading experts to present and discuss their policy-relevant research and how it can help address current social issues
IPR also organizes workshops, training, and academic conferences throughout the year. Below are a few of these recurring events:
- Chicago Area Political and Social Behavior (CAB) workshop (May)
- IES methodological workshops in education research (Summer)
- Joint IPR/OSC workshop (June)
IPR is also very pleased to work with Northwestern undergraduate organizations that have an interest in policy studies and research. They are:
- Roosevelt Institute at Northwestern
- Dialogues, a lecture series of the Northwestern Community Development Corps
If you are interested in requesting co-sponsorship of an event, please send an e-mail to Patricia Reese describing your event, with the dates and your request for funding.