Fels Policy Research Initiative Announces New Interdisciplinary Grants

July 14, 2017

The Fels Policy Research Initiative (FPRI) has announced nine working groups and conferences it will fund through the end of 2017. Each group will be awarded as much as $15,000 in support of its work.

Launched by Penn Arts and Sciences in 2016, FPRI seeks to increase the visibility and impact of the University’s policy-relevant research by supporting research and working groups, sponsoring events and seminars, and giving faculty opportunities to voice their opinion on important policy issues. Each semester FPRI announces a call for proposals for funding of working groups and conferences. These proposals tend to focus on one or more of the initiative's key themes: putting policy research into practice, innovative approaches to using data to improve research, and new research responding to the dramatic policy shifts following the 2016 election. Funding prioritizes working groups and conferences that engage faculty from Penn Arts and Sciences and involve multiple disciplines.

The funded working groups include:
Socio-Spatial Carbon Collaborative
Daniel Aldana Cohen, an assistant professor of sociology, will convene the Socio-Spatial Carbon Collaborative, which will investigate the intersection of social and ecological inequalities in the built environment, with an eye to broad public engagement and public policy.

Foundations of Cooperative Organization in Living Systems: Sustaining Research in Theoretical Biology
Vijay Balasubramanian, Cathy and Mark Lasry Professor of Physics, and Junhyong Kim, Patricia M. Williams Term Professor of Biology, will bring together faculty, fellows, and students to explore the need for a fundamentally new way of viewing and understanding living systems as interacting across scales from molecules to societies and species.

Collective Resource Development for Philadelphia School Teachers and Staff to Support LGBTQ Youth
Anna Esacove, Associate Director of the Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality, and Women, and Amy Hillier of PennDesign will continue their work to bring together researchers and practitioners to develop research on policies relating to LGBTQ youth and their families, and strengthen existing connections across Penn, CHOP, and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

The Schools Philadelphia’s Students Deserve  
Amy Brown, an advanced lecturer in the Critical Writing Program and anthropology, and Ben Dobkin of the School of Social Policy and Practice will support a partnership between Philadelphia teacher-activists, graduate students, and faculty to demonstrate to voters and policymakers that fully funding Philadelphia’s schools is possible and necessary.  

River Research Seminar and Working Group
Bethany Wiggin, associate professor of Germanic languages and literatures and faculty director of the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities, will bring together faculty and students from Penn, Drexel and Temple, and community partners to continue to explore the Schuylkill River and Philadelphia’s urban waters across disciplines from hydrology to history.

Built Environment Policies and Interventions for Better Health and Safety
Karen Glanz, George A. Weiss University Professor in the School of Nursing and the Perelman School of Medicine, will continue a working group examining innovative approaches to built-environment policies and interventions.

Funded conferences include:

Under the Gun: Organized Violence and Afro-Descendant Populations
Michael Hanchard, a professor of Africana Studies, will host a conference that will bring together internationally renowned scholars, along with social movement and political actors, to examine the disproportionate experiences of Afro-descendant populations in France, Brazil, Jamaica, Colombia, and the United States with state, extra-judicial, and popular forms of organized violence.

Urban Development as a Vehicle for Equity in the City
Elaine Simon and Mark Stern, Co-Directors of the Urban Studies Program, will host a series of panels on the topic of urban development as a vehicle for equity in Philadelphia.

International Symposium on Race, Science and Society: Global Perspectives
Dorothy Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology, and the Penn Program on Race, Science, and Society (PRSS) will host a two-day international symposium in April 2018 that interrogates the global variability of race in science across time and space.