The Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) at Michigan State University conducts research on public policy and social trends and encourages the formation of relationships directed towards improved policymaking. Directed by Professor Matt Grossmann, IPPSR helps provoke discussion on important issues and offers a variety of programs related to policy and leadership.
Two first-year Masters of Public Policy students, Abbey Frazier and Luke Allen, are currently Policy Fellows at IPPSR.
Abbey Frazier is able to explore some of her own policy interests through her work at IPPSR. Examining some of the current trends in food assistance caseloads in Michigan has allowed her to analyze the causes of these changes. As she is particularly interested in social welfare and economic policy, this is a great opportunity for her to learn more about these issues.
Abbey shares, “I’m hoping to use my IPPSR experience to become exposed to more areas of policy and from different perspectives. The work here involves input from not only university officials, but also from the broader policy community, so I think it provides more context and more time to really do an in-depth look at understanding what’s going on.”
Because she works in state government, Abbey has been interested in understanding the academic side of policy investigation. In particular, she would like to learn more about the research proposal and funding processes. She appreciates the relative freedom from immediate deadlines and narrow tasks that working at IPPSR has provided.
Abbey is currently working on labor force trends and helping IPPSR prepare for its next Legislative Leadership Program. This program helps newly elected state legislators ready themselves for their new roles in government.
Luke Allen also appreciates the flexibility he has experienced at IPPSR. His policy interests include rural economic development and political geography. He has been able to research rural policy issues as well as the political behavior of small town residents.
In addition to performing his own research, Luke assigns topics to undergraduate researchers and edits and manages the IPPSR research database and blog.
“I’ve learned a lot of interesting things, but the clearest lesson I’ve taken away is that there is no real silver bullet for economic development in rural places,” Luke says of his research. “Policies that work in one geographic area can be catastrophic failures in another, and vice versa.”
He has noticed that academic research involving policy can be quite fragmented. “It’s a little disturbing how little cross pollination there is between political science and, say, psychology or sociology,” he observes.
Luke hopes that he can be involved in improving this situation. He notes that the election increased interest in political science and policy among outside groups. This illustrates how institutes like IPPSR can play a role in expanding interest in and understanding of policy to a wider audience.
After graduating, Luke plans to be involved in state policymaking. He believes that his time at IPPSR will help him develop greater expertise in his particular interest areas.