When the new academic year commences next month, the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative (PPI) will be approaching a key milestone: the first anniversary of its founding. Launched in September 2012, the Initiative developed out of a grand ambition: to create a new hub for public policy research and education at Penn that bridges the intellectual divide between business and government and expands the presence of Wharton and Penn in Washington, DC. By promoting faculty research on key policy issues that differentially affect business and the economy, and translating that research into policy briefs for government decision-makers, the Initiative has the potential to become a new, nonpartisan source of knowledge that infuses sound, business-minded analytics into policy discussions. At the same time, Penn Wharton PPI is committed to expanding opportunities here on campus for students to explore and understand—through course work, internships, and other activities—the tremendous impact that government policy has on the economy and on the business community.
It has been a transformative year for Penn Wharton PPI. We started with one faculty champion—our Faculty Director, Professor Mark Duggan, Chair of Wharton’s Business Economics and Public Policy Department—and now the Initiative has almost 80 Faculty Affiliates that span all 10 Wharton departments and include members of Arts & Sciences, Engineering, GSE, the Perelman School of Medicine, the Law School, and Annenberg. We’ve published monthly policy briefs on issues ranging from corporate and personal income tax policy, to regulatory reform, energy policy, and trade policy, with briefs related to health care, education finance, and mortgage lending among those coming down the pike. We’ve hired undergraduate and graduate students to serve as research assistants on these briefs and on other faculty projects, as well as to contribute to our Policy Blog, and to work as interns in our recently-opened satellite office in Washington, DC (1350 I Street, NW). We also have provided financial support to students doing internships at the US Treasury, the Council of Economic Advisers, the Securities & Exchange Commission, and on the Hill, and we’re committed to expanding support for summer internships next year.
The Initiative already has a great lineup of policy experts set to participate in our monthly speaker series this fall. We’ll be kicking things off in September with a lecture by Cecilia Rouse, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, who will talk about K-12 education reform and its potential impact on the future of the US economy. In October we’re hosting a panel on the environmental and economic impacts of fracking, which remains particularly controversial here in Pennsylvania, featuring experts from Penn, the gas drilling industry, and Pennsylvania’s Environmental Protection Agency. And we will be welcoming Doug Elmendorf, Director of the Congressional Budget Office, to campus for a guest lecture in November.
All Penn Wharton PPI events are open to the entire University community. But you don’t need to wait until September to begin exploring all that we’re doing. Check out our website and if you have suggestions for the Initiative or simply want to learn more about how you can get involved, please reach out to Managing Director Andy Coopersmith at firstname.lastname@example.org.