Penn Arts and Sciences


The deadline for applying to this year's Summer Institute on Inequality is April 15.

The University of Pennyslvania has ranked fifth on USA Today's list of the best colleges for studying the social sciences, with the Social Science and Policy Forum cited as one reason for Penn's strength in this area.

Penn SSPF is seeking applications for its 2014-15 postdoctoral fellowship on the theme of poverty and opportunity. Recent PhDs from any social science disclipline are welcome to apply. Click here for more information and application instructions.

SSPF director Thomas Sugrue has a lot of advice for Detroit as it grapples with bankruptcy. He warned against "trickle down urbanism," argued that the city cannot rely on an influx of hipsters and the "creative class" to spark revitalization, and told Detroit policymakers to build on the city's strengths, especially health care, education, and public employment.

Sugrue's views about the city's future were featured in the Detroit Free Press and Forbes, and in radio, newspaper, and television interviews. On February 27, Sugrue presented the keynote address to more than 800 people at the Detroit Policy Conference, sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Sugrue's engagement with Detroit comes at a crucial moment in the city's history. Over the last week, Detroit's Emergency Manager submitted a plan to resolve the city's bankruptcy. Detroit Future City, the city's leading planning organization, announced its plans to demolish blighted properties and lay the groundwork for the city's revitalization. And Detroit's newly elected mayor, Mike Duggan, gave his first major policy address.

Sugrue is David Boies Professor of History and Sociology, and author of the prize-winning book, The Origins of the Urban Crisis.

Together with the Office of the Provost, the Penn Social Science and Policy Forum is pleased to announce a competition for up to five Course Development Grants. Grants are to be used to design innovative courses in policy-relevant social science for undergraduates or graduate and professional students. We strongly encourage proposals for courses that bridge disciplines or schools, including courses that may be cross-listed. We also encourage, where appropriate, courses that connect scholarship and policy analysis. Funds, between $2000 and $5000, will be available to successful applicants. These funds can be used for graduate and undergraduate assistants, course operations, and faculty salary.

Faculty at Penn in any of the 12 schools are eligible, and courses may be proposed for any future semester. We look to support innovations in the types of materials assigned, in classroom task design, in the format of graded assignments, as well as new team teaching, especially across schools.

Applications are due April 30. Click here for more information and lists of past recipients.

SSPF immigration advisory board member, Emilio Parrado, discusses the political inertia that is holding up immigration reform in Congress and its impact. "In this era of concern over budget deficits, we are spending more and more on immigration enforcement, including border security and locking people up for months before we deport them." He concludes that immigration reform has failed because of "a lack of leadership and willingness to take a risk. Good politicians have to accept that some things that are good for the country are not going to be popular with their local constituencies, and do them anyway. But they just don’t seem to be able to find people to do that." The full interview is here.

As the courts weigh the merits of Detroit's bankruptcy filing, Penn scholars in history, real estate, and urban economics, along with the chair of the Federal Reserve in Philadelphia, discussed the city's future in a standing-room only event. That forum, organized by the Penn SSPF, along with the Penn Institutte for Urban Resarch, is featured in the current issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette.

The SSPF's new graduate student affiliate, the Graduate Social Science and Policy Forum, has issued a call for papers on the topic, "The Origins of the Twenty-First Century: People, Policies, Politics."  Papers will be presented during workshops throughout the academic year. Deadline for a 250-word abstract: September 30, 2013.

As part of ongoing efforts to foster policy-relevant social science research and teaching, the Penn SSPF announces its 2013-14 small grant program to encourage faculty to bring policy makers to meet their students, present their work in courses, and engage in dialogue and collaboration in the classroom. Faculty in all twelve of Penn's schools are eligible to apply for grants to defray the costs of a policy maker's visit to campus. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis. For more information on how to apply, and a list of winners click here

Penn Social Science and Policy Forum director, Thomas Sugrue, has been widely quoted on Detroit's bankruptcy and its implications. His article on the impact of bankruptcy on Detroit's fragile middle class was published in the New Yorker, he appeared three times on MSNBC (Richard Lui and Jansing and Co), and was the subject of lengthy interviews in Le Monde, The Toronto Globe and Mail, Linkiesta (Italy), on public radio affiliates in Detroit and San Francisco, and on the nationwide MajorityFM. In addition, Sugrue's research and commentary on Detroit has been featured in such diverse publications as the Financial Times, Washington Post, The New York Times, Think Progress, The Root, Time Weekly (China), Deadline Detroit, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Nation, In These Times, and Esquire.

A select group of predissertation students from throughout the United States gathered in Philadelphia for the Penn SSPF's first Summer Institute on Inequality. Held from June 17 through June 26, the program furthered SSPF’s mission of fostering policy-relevant scholarship at every stage of development by helping graduate students early in their careers explore key topics and refine their research goals. Students explored cutting-edge qualitative and quantitative research on a variety of topics related to inequality, including poverty, labor force participation, income and wealth disparities, the impact of race and ethnicity, spatial dynamics, educational gaps, and social and economic policies that address inequalities.

Visiting speakers included of the most important social scientists working on inequality today, including demographer Marta Tienda (Princeton), sociologist Sean Reardon (Stanford), incoming ASA president Paula England (NYU), and anthropologist Kathryn Newman (dean at Johns Hopkins).  Visit the summer institute webpage for background on the institute participants and faculty.

Penn Social Science and Policy Forum Director, Thomas Sugrue and  SSPF executive board member Robert Inman are quoted on urban financial crises, public policy, and Detroit's emergency management in the current issue of Next City.

The Penn Social Science and Policy Forum has selected two postdoctoral fellows for the 2013-14 theme on immigration and citizenship.

Laurencio Sanguino received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago in December 2012. His dissertation, “The Origins of Migration between Mexico and the United States, 1905-1945,” examines the transformation of migration between Mexico and the United States, describing how labor recruitment, trafficking, and enforcement practices changed between 1905 and 1945. His next project will chart how Zamora, Michoacán, was transformed into one of the most important migrant-sending communities in Mexico between 1885 and 1965.

James Walsh received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California Santa Barbara in September 2011. He is currently working on a book-length project based on his dissertation, “Governing the Divide: Political Institutions and Immigration Control in the United States, Canada, and Australia,” which provides a comparative historical study of the significance of institutional arrangements and state structure in conditioning policy decisions and outcomes. His broader research agenda is focused on interrogating the relationship between globalization, immigration, and the nation-state.

The Penn Social Science and Policy Forum is pleased to announce the 2013 winners of SSPF Course Development Grants for innovative teaching in policy-relevant social science.

Femida Handy, Professor, School of Social Policy and Practice, will develop “Ethics for Social Impact.” Professor Handy’s new course will combine lectures and two-day workshops for students planning to work for policy organizations and in non-profit leadership. It will explore the ethical challenges that face organizations, and help future leaders develop a code of ethics for tailored to an organization’s mission, needs and resources. This is a timely course at a moment when policymakers and executives are grappling with ethical issues and responsibility.

Amy C. Offner, Assistant Professor of History, School of Arts and Sciences, was selected for “Thinking About Capitalism: A Social and Global History of Ideas.” Professor Offner will develop a new course on the history of capitalism and economic analysis, examining the emergence of the economy and economics as naturalized, globally recognizable concepts; the formation of economists as an authoritative professional group; and the rise of economic reasoning as a persuasive form of public argument. Offner’s course is closely related to SSPF’s 2012-13 annual theme, the Global Economic Crisis.

Rand Quinn, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education, will be funded for “Reforming Philadelphia’s Schools: A Research Practicum on Civic Capacity.” Professor Quinn will develop a course open to undergraduate and graduate students throughout the university who have an interest in urban education, civil society and public policy. The capstone of the semester will be a student research symposium open to the Penn community and the general public that will serve as a platform for launching new school reform initiatives in Philadelphia neighborhoods and schools, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships.

Matthew P. Steinberg, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education will use the funds to launch the “Education Policy Research Practicum.” This innovative course will connect graduate students and educational leaders to develop client-based, applied education research projects. Teams of students will conduct research tailored to the needs of educational policy makers and administrators. The practicum will help education leaders to benefit from the growing availability of data but who face organization capacity constraints that limit the timely generation of empirical evidence.

Developing a new, policy relevant course in the social sciences at Penn? Apply for an SSPF Course Development Grant. Applications for funding for courses in any upcoming semester will be accepted through March 15, 2013. Up to five grants will be awarded in the current grant cycle.

In the New York Times, SSPF director Thomas Sugrue writes about Michigan's controversial "right to work" law and its implications for the economic status of workers and the political power of unions. He argues that "at a moment when the voting machine has replaced the picket line as the last bastion of union strength, right-to-work advocates hope to weaken what remain's of the movement's clout." Citing the rise of income inequality in the United States since the 1970s--partially the result of declining union power--Sugrue contends that "it is no longer a given that a blue collar job is a ticket to the middle class." 

Looking for a quick course on the past, present, and future of the Global Economic Crisis by some of the world's leading economists, political scientists, historians, and sociologists? Thomas Piketty offers a rigorous analysis of the growing income gap; Mark Blythe explores the "dangerous theory" of austerity; Scott Nelson steps back and looks at financial panics in the United States from a long view; Jefrey Frieden examines debt crises in a comparative perspective; Lane Kenworthy suggests a path forward.

The Penn Social Science and Policy Forum's YouTube page is a one stop gateway to cutting-edge social science for scholars, journalists, policy makers and students. 

NOBEL PRIZE WINNER Thomas J. Sargent will deliver a major lecture to the Penn Social Science and Policy Forum on January 28, 2013. Sargent, the W.R. Berkeley Professor in Economics and Business at New York University, won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Economics with Christopher Sims, for his empirical research on cause and effect in the macroeconomy. Sargent is the author of influential books and articles on the coordination of monetary and fiscal policy, inflation, and unemployment. His work with Nobelist Robert Lucas on rational expectations and macroeconomics was field-defining. His current projects include an examination of persistent unemployment in Europe and a study of the changing behavior of the Federal Reserve since World War II and the responsiveness of the US economy to Fed actions. 

The University of Pennsylvania has launched the Penn Social Science and Policy Forum.  The announcement was made by Penn Provost Vincent Price. Read the Press Release.

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