Penn Fels Policy Research Initiative Announces Interdisciplinary Grants

April 4, 2016

The Fels Policy Research Initiative has announced five inaugural collaborative grants for as much as $15,000 each, designed to further interdisciplinary partnerships. Three of the research projects involve one or more Penn Integrates Knowledge, or PIK, professors, a group of Penn academics committed to working across different disciplinary boundaries.

“Public problems rarely organize themselves along the established lines of academic disciplines,” Mark Alan Hughes, the faculty director for the Penn Fels Policy Research Initiative, says. “The opportunity for faculty to collaborate across their fields of research can create new insights into many public problems.”

Engaging faculty from eight of Penn’s 12 schools, the projects are:

• The Global Impacts of Race in Biomedicine: PIK professors Dorothy Roberts and Sarah Tishkoff will examine policy recommendations on racial and ethnic health inequities, as well as host guest lectures.

• Built Environment Policies and Interventions for Better Health and Safety: PIK Professor Karen Glanz will develop approaches and interventions for urban areas in collaboration with Charles Branas of Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine.

• Fairness for Digital Infrastructures: PIK Professor Rakesh Vohra will host workshops that bring together researchers, computer scientists, economists, legal experts on discrimination and policy makers. This project also involves Mallesh Pai of the School of Arts & Sciences and Sampath Kannan, Aaron Roth and Jamie Morgenstern of the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

• Interdisciplinary Collaboration to Support Data-Based Decision Making in Philadelphia: John Fantuzzo of the Graduate School of Education, Dennis Culhane of the School of Social Policy & Practice and Janet Deatrick of the School of Nursing will create a policy research agenda for the city’s integrated data systems, examining interventions for families living in poverty.

• Optimizing Government: Policy Challenges in the Machine Learning Age: Cary Coglianese of the Law School and Richard Berk of the School of Arts & Sciences will focus on machine learning innovations in government.

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