Public Policy Lab: Colloquium Series

Fall 2019

Caterina Roman October 3, 2019: Caterina Roman (Criminal Justice)
Why is it so Difficult to Reduce Community Violence? The Challenges of Street Culture, Delinquent Peer Networks and Gangs

Although long-term, national trends in violent crime indicate we are at historic lows, some urban neighborhoods, such as those in North Philadelphia, still suffer from disproportionately high levels of shootings and violence. Crime reduction initiatives come and go, with little dent in the homicide numbers. This presentation will outline the challenges facing urban neighborhoods where the street code of violence is high and youth often remain loyal to their anti-social peers. The presentation draws on a study with Philadelphia street gang members that sought to understand the dynamics of street crime and group violence, and how social networks might impede or facilitate withdrawal from crime and gangs. The presentation will also discuss the study’s implications for policy and practice.

Hamil Pearsall October 17, 2019: Hamil Pearsall (Geography and Urban Studies)
A Walk in the Park? Challenges to Developing, Managing, and Maintaining Urban Public Spaces for a Just and Equitable City

This presentation examines inequities in urban public spaces through a series of questions, including: Do low-income and minority communities have lower levels of access to public spaces than wealthier and/or whiter communities? Are privately owned and/or privately managed public spaces less publicly accessible than publicly owned and managed spaces? What are the primary challenges to overcome to improve public space accessibility?

Fenaba Addo November 14, 2019: Fenaba Addo, Department of Consumer Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Wealth Inequality and the Black Middle Class

Fenaba R. Addo, Ph.D. is the Lorna J. Wendt Assistant Professor of Consumer Science at the UW-Madison. She also a faculty affiliate of the Center for Financial Security, Institute for Research on Poverty, Center for Demography and Ecology, La Follette School of Public Affairs, and Department of Sociology. Her research agenda examines how inequalities in debt and wealth create and recreate family, social, and health inequities. She is also interested the role that consumer and family policies serve in reinforcing these relationships and the consequences for economically vulnerable populations in the U.S., in particular communities of color, young adults, and older women.

Spring 2020

Karolyn Tyson February 13, 2020: Karolyn Tyson, Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Trust in Times of Crisis and Change: Implications for Policy and Practice

Karolyn Tyson is Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received a doctorate in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. from Spelman College. Dr. Tyson specializes in qualitative research focused on schools and processes of social inequality. She is particularly interested in understanding the complex relationships between quotidian schooling processes, how people define their experiences, and individual action and outcomes. She is currently working on a book about trust in the aftermath of desegregation. Dr. Tyson is the author of Integration Interrupted: Tracking, Black Students, and Acting White after Brown as well as numerous articles examining the schooling experiences, attitudes, and outcomes of black students.

David Smith February 27, 2020: David Smith (Psychology)
To Trust, or Not to Trust: How the Brain Shapes Social Decisions in Older Adults

Older adults are at increased risk for financial exploitation and also age-related health problems, including neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Yet, we have little insight into how we can reduce risk of (or delay) the associated cognitive decline and functional impairments, including those associated with vulnerability to financial exploitation. In this talk, I will present some of the ongoing work from my lab that uses functional magnetic resonance imaging to explore the underlying brain mechanisms that shape how older adults make social decisions, particularly those that involve trusting other people. Our goal is to understand how these brain mechanisms are related to financial exploitation and the functional impairments associated with risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. We believe that developing a better understanding of the relations between these factors is an important step toward early identification and creating interventions that might eventually be used to improve outcomes in older adults.

Elise Chor April 2, 2020: Elise Chor (Political Science)
Does Money Matter?: Preschool Funding, Program Quality, and Child Development

Preschool programs targeted towards low-income children can be effective at narrowing socioeconomic disparities in children’s skills at kindergarten entry, but preschool effectiveness varies widely across centers, potentially due to differences in per-pupil funding. This study investigates the relationships among preschool funding, program quality, and child development, with policy implications for the promotion of kindergarten readiness and expansion of opportunity into adulthood.