University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Department of Public Policy e-News

No. 15 – December 2010

In this issue:

Public Policy Building

Program Highlight: Evaluation and Analytical Methods
How do policymakers know if the programs they design and implement to solve society’s problems are having their intended effects? This type of question is the primary focus of the evaluation and analytical methods concentration in the public policy program at UMBC. Through class instruction and practical experiences, evaluation and analytical methods students acquire a variety of skills that enable them to be informed consumers and proficient producers of evaluation research. In an environment that increasingly emphasizes evidence-based decision making, such skills are very marketable.

Students learn to design studies that enable researchers to draw causal inferences about the impacts of programs and policies, as well as to make use of a variety of analytical methods, including statistics, qualitative methods, operations research, and benefit-cost analysis. The program then trains students to apply these skills to public policy and management issues. Evaluation research could involve a large scale assessment, such as the extent to which a federal disability program improves the quality of life for disabled people; and on a smaller, more local scale, whether mediation affects court case dispositions. Dr. Marvin Mandell and Dr. Dave Marcotte are the faculty advisors.

UMBC faculty offer commentary for local, national elections
UMBC’s political experts were prominent in local and national media during the 2010 election season.

In October, the Department of Public Policy hosted a debate on the UMBC campus between Baltimore County Executive candidates Kevin Kamenetz and Kenneth Holt. Dr. Donald F. Norris (Public Policy) moderated the debate.

On election evening, Dr. Norris served as on-air political analyst for WBAL TV with investigative reporter Jayne Miller. He also commented on the governor’s race and Maryland’s political climate for the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, Washington Examiner, Associated Press, WJZ, the Gazette, and Capital News Service. Dr. Roy T. Meyers (Political Science) covered election night with Fraser Smith on WYPR. Dr. Laura Hussey (Political Science) provided insight for the Baltimore Sun, Maryland Public Television, Washington Examiner, Catonsville Times and Capital News Service. Dr. Thomas F. Schaller (Political Science) produced a series of Baltimore Sun columns on election issues and was quoted by the Washington Post, Washington Times and Washington Examiner. Click here for links to their columns and interviews.

Dr. Norris and Dr. Schaller were panelists for the popular UMBC Post-Election Forum on November 16, along with national political analyst Stuart Rothenberg and Baltimore Sun reporter Julie Bykowicz. A videotape of the forum is available on UMBCtube.

Dr. Timothy Brennan (Public Policy) was the keynote speaker at the International Symposium on Communications Regulation, held in Karlsruhe, Germany on November 22. His topic was “ Net Neutrality or Minimum Quality Standards: Network Effects vs. Market Power Justifications."

Dr. John Rennie Short (Public Policy) provided the keynote speech at Yale University’s symposium “Cartography and Empire: Commemorating the Bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Map” on November 12.

Professor of Public Policy and Political Science Dr. George La Noue has been appointed by the United States Commission for Civil Rights to be a member of the Maryland Advisory Committee for Civil Rights. The work of the Committee is to identify and seek solutions to the State’s civil rights issues.

These UMBC students and alumni have recently received prestigious fellowships from national and international organizations:

Evaluation and Analytical Methods Ph.D. candidate Elizabeth Delwiche received a dissertation research grant from the Association for Institutional Research (AIR). The AIR program, with support from the National Science Foundation and the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative, provides professional development opportunities to doctoral students to foster the use of federal databases for institutional research in postsecondary education.

Andrea Hewitt (Ph.D. student, Health) was chosen for the 2010-2011 Pew Leadership Fellowship program. Recipients of this fellowship receive year-long paid positions in Washington, DC to work alongside Pew professionals in public policy, research and communications.

Dr. James Kimani (Ph.D., 2007) is a post-doctoral fellow with the African Population and Health Research Center (APHR). The APHR Post-Doctoral Fellowship program targets scholars who obtained a Ph.D. or equivalent within the last two years in either social sciences or public health. Dr. Kimani’s research interests include HIV/AIDS prevention, reproductive health, health system strengthening and accessibility of health care services among low income populations.

Ph.D. student Larry DeWitt (Policy History) discussed the policy history of Social Security at an event held on September 26 at the FDR Presidential Library in commemoration of the New Deal legislation of 1935, which includes the Social Security Act. He was on a panel with, among others, Columbia University historian Alan Brinkley and Nobel-Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz.

Governor Martin O'Malley appointed Alexia Van Orden (Ph.D. student, Education) to be the student commissioner on the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC). MHEC is a 12 member coordinating board responsible for establishing statewide policies for Maryland public and independent colleges and universities and private career schools. In serving her one-year term as student commissioner, Ms. Van Orden will represent more than 337,000 college students in Maryland.

Dr. Mustafa Cosar Unal (Ph.D., 2009) received honorable mention for the 2010 National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) Annual Dissertation Award. His dissertation was one of two recognized in the nationwide competition. The dissertation, "Turkish Responses to Violence by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK): Policy Choices and Policy Effects" examined the effects of the Turkish Government’s anti-terrorism policies on reducing PKK violence from 1984-2007, the response of the PKK to those policies and the underlying causes of the violence. Dr. Unal is an intelligence official with the Turkish National Police.

In a new article, Dr. Tim Brennan examines electric utility demand side management program and finds that obtaining optimal solutions requires complex energy price regulation. “Optimal energy efficiency policies and regulatory demand-side management tests: how well do they match?” Energy Policy, Vol. 38 (2010), 3874-85.

Almost every major United States university requires faculty and students who wish to do research on “human subjects” to submit proposals for approval by their Institutional Review Board (IRB). Dr. George LaNoue (Public Policy) and Dr. Alexander Bush (Pepperdine Law School) explore the legal and intellectual issues raided by IRB rules. They conclude that the IRB process and rules should be modified for most forms of public policy and journalistic research. “Institutional Review Board rules: should one size fit all disciplines?” International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Vol. 5 (2010).

Dr. Dave Marcotte (Public Policy) and Dr. Sara Markowitz (Emory University) examined possible links between the diffusion of new pharmaceuticals used for treating mental illness and crime rates. They found evidence that increased prescriptions for drugs to treat mental illness are associated with decreases in violent crime, but found no evidence that the expansion of psychiatric drugs reduces property crimes, deaths from homicide, or arrests. “A cure for crime? Psycho-pharmaceuticals and crime trends.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, n/a. doi: 10.1002/pam.20544.

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