October 14, 2009

The Institute for Policy Research (IPR) is an interdisciplinary public policy research institute founded in 1968-69 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. www.northwestern.edu/ipr

>> News and Research

> NU President and IPR Fellow Schapiro Moderates Symposium on Higher Education
As part of his inauguration as Northwestern's 16th president on October 9, Morton Schapiro, an economist and IPR faculty fellow, moderated a symposium on the economics of higher education with IPR economist Burton Weisbrod and three other experts. Schapiro is an author or editor of seven books and more than 100 articles on the topic.

> Two IPR Sociologists Receive Prestigious Young Faculty Awards
IPR sociologists Monica Prasad and Celeste Watkins-Hayes were recently named as recipients of the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Awards for 2009. Watkins-Hayes will study the social and economic survival strategies of women living with HIV/AIDS. Prasad will use the award to explore the paradox of how the United States developed the world’s most progressive tax system while maintaining the smallest welfare state among industrialized nations.

> IPR Welcomes Four New Fellows
This fall, Northwestern University President and economist Morton Schapiro will join the Institute as a faculty fellow, along with anthropologists Micaela di Leonardo and Rebecca Seligman and political scientist Laurel Harbridge.

> Making a Game Plan for Applying to College
A new project by IPR education and social policy professor James Rosenbaum, with several IPR graduate research assistants, is evaluating a Chicago Public Schools program in which “college coaches” try to identify and reduce barriers to college enrollment for disadvantaged students.

> Performance Measurement in Schools
IPR education economist David Figlio and his colleague provide the first analysis of stakeholder behavior in the education sector with a look at Florida public school ratings and their impact on schools’ private financial support.

> Environments Embodied: A New Look at Racial Disparities
Though genetics has become the default explanation for African Americans’ elevated rates of heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes, IPR anthropologist Christopher Kuzawa shows why these and other health disparities could be the result of racism across generations.

> Poverty Concentration and Public Housing
In a recent study, IPR sociologist Lincoln Quillian asks to what extent public housing projects are responsible for concentrated areas of poverty.

> Policy Perspective: A Golden Rule for Public Deliberation
Using the framework of her recently published book, Talking Together: Public Deliberation and Political Participation in America, IPR Director Fay Lomax Cook explains why the town hall meetings on healthcare reform held by members of Congress this summer were not as supportive of the democratic process as they might have been.

> Policy Perspective: Missile Defense - A View from the East
IPR political scientist Andrew Roberts discusses Barack Obama's recent declaration that the United States would no longer pursue a planned missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, shedding light on political and public reaction in these two countries over the scuttled deal.

> New Grants
IPR faculty fellows have received 17 new research grants in 2009. The National Science Foundation is supporting nine different projects by IPR faculty, including economist Charles F. Manski’s study of identification and decision problems in the social sciences and psychologist Jennifer Richeson’s project on fostering positive interracial interactions.

> IPR Faculty in the Media
Recent media appearances and clips include: IPR psychologist Alice Eagly was interviewed for the first broadcast of “Women Mean Business” on Voice of America Business. IPR education economist David Figlio offers advice in BusinessWeek on how to find affordable neighborhoods with good public schools. IPR Associate Leemore Dafny, an expert on the healthcare industry, tells the Christian Science Monitor that more private sector competition is needed to fix U.S. healthcare.

>> New Books and Working Papers

> “The New Welfare Bureaucrats: Entanglements of Race, Class, and Policy Reform”
In this book, IPR sociologist and African American studies assistant professor Celeste Watkins-Hayes offers a behind-the-scenes look at bureaucracy’s human face in a study of welfare officers and how they navigate the increasingly tangled political and emotional terrain of their jobs. 

> “The New Fiscal Sociology: Taxation in Comparative and Historical Perspective”
This volume, co-edited by IPR sociologist Monica Prasad, addresses the social and historical sources of tax policy, the problem of how taxes persist, and the social and cultural consequences of taxation. The essays also trace the fundamental connections between tax institutions and macrohistorical phenomena, such as wars, shifting racial boundaries, and religious traditions.

> “The Quality of Democracy in Eastern Europe: Public Preferences and Policy Reforms”
In this book, IPR political scientist Andrew Roberts presents a new framework for conceptualizing and measuring democratic quality and applies the framework to multiple countries and policy areas. He finds that citizens in Eastern European democracies exercise considerable control over their rulers, despite difficult economics and a difficult historical legacy.

> “Introduction to Meta-Analysis”
This book provides a clear and thorough introduction to meta-analysis, or the process of synthesizing data from a series of separate studies. IPR education researcher and statistician Larry Hedges and his co-authors cover various practical and theoretical issues and discuss common mistakes and controversies.

> “Research Confidential: Solutions to Problems Most Social Scientists Pretend They Never Have”
Rarely do authors discuss the practical issues and challenges they routinely face in their research. So each new cohort makes the same mistakes that previous generations have already confronted and resolved. Edited by communication studies researcher and IPR Associate Eszter Hargittai, the volume supplies new researchers with detailed, practical information and includes chapters by IPR psychobiologist Emma Adam and IPR sociologist Jeremy Freese, 

> “The Nature of Cities: Ecological Visions and the American Urban Professions, 1920–1960”
In the early 20th century, prominent figures promoted the idea that America’s urban landscapes were ecological communities requiring scientific management like forests and farms. In her book, communication studies researcher and IPR Associate Jennifer Light brings together environmental and urban history to reveal how their ecological vision shaped U.S. cities.

> New IPR Working Papers
Nine new working papers by IPR faculty are available on topics regarding, among other topics, residential mobility programs and Gautreaux, how individuals form opinions about new technologies, issue engagement on congressional campaign Web sites, and the role of organizational routines in schools.

>> Upcoming Events

> IPR Fall Colloquia and Events
Topics of IPR’s Monday colloquium series include the psychological consequences of group-based discrimination and the impact of No Child Left Behind on reading and math scores. Together with Northwestern’s Department of Economics, the Institute will continue sponsoring the Joint Education & Labor Seminar Series, started last spring. Other colloquia are organized by IPR’s Cells to Society (C2S) Center and the IPR Seminar Series on Performance Measurement. These interdisciplinary talks are free and open to the public.

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