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The College of Public Affairs and Administration and the Center for State Policy and Leadership, University of Illinois Springfield
Thought Leadership

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  • Image of Tesla coil lights

    Setting Policy in a World of Science

    Since COVID-19 debuted in our world, there has been no end to politicians, pundits, and social media sirens crying out something along the line of “we are following the science” or “because the science says so” as they support one new policy or another or to bring down one political view or another.  As professionals who set, guide, and lead public policy, we need to start asking questions of “show me the science” or “where does the science say this” when we are faced with the never-ending barrage of “because science says so” claims in relation to public policy.

  • U.S. Supreme Court

    What Has Health Got to Do with It?

    Supreme Court Determines Fate of the Affordable Care Act During a Pandemic.  Health policy has absolutely nothing to do with the United States Supreme Court’s pending decision in California v. Texas, according to newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett

  • DCFS Child Protection Poster

    Can you see me? Children in the Shadows of the Pandemic

    In March, schools sent children home and students across Illinois and the nation sequestered in their homes where they attempted to continue their schoolwork remotely, in front of their computer screens.  Before too long child advocates nationwide observed an alarming trend – significant decreases in calls to child abuse hotlines.  States reported precipitous drops – upwards to 50% in some states. 

  • Downward trending chart with COVID 19 Viruses

    The Economic Impact of COVID-19

    The coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) and associated COVID-19 disease pandemic have wrought tremendous damage to the world's health. But the pandemic, and the public health mitigation policies brought on by it, have wrought an equally large amount of economic carnage.

  • Thank you to our Veterans

    Much can be said to our veterans…but it starts with a simple “thank you” for your service!

  • The Capitol Connection Blog November 10, 2020 - Let me state the obvious, 2020 has been a heck of a year.

    Let me State the Obvious – 2020 has been a Heck of a Year

    Those of us in Public Affairs (professors, practitioners, public officials, students and keen observers) are always trying to learn from previous events and past decisions and try to predict or forecast the future to some extent. The goal is to take those lessons and learn and do better the next time around. At least we try in a public policy context.

  • Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney, Ph.D., with the young Abraham Lincoln statue on the UIS quad

    Ensuring A Just University

    As an educator and a civically engaged citizen, I believe we will never fully realize “this great experiment of democracy” until we fully realize the common cause for justice. We cannot have justice until we reduce racism to such a level that the civic life of our society can conduct itself in a forward and consistent fashion to ensure that all people, no matter their race, can expect and receive the fruits and benefits of our society. 

  • Protests on the Streets:  Seeing from the Lens of Goodness, photo of magnifying glass

    Protests on the Streets: Seeing From the Lens of Goodness

    A beautiful Arabic proverb teaches us that a vessel only spills that which it contains. If a cup of water falls, it will spill merely that which it holds. Our heart is also a vessel of sorts. If it harbors prejudice and hate, what it divulges is simply a manifestation of what was in it. But if it houses compassion and love, then it will accordingly release what it bears.

  • Photo of polling place

    Election Day 2020: More than a Presidential Election

    Every four years, we elect a president based upon each candidate’s vision for the future and our assessments of who is most capable of addressing the issues facing the country.  As is common in most presidential elections, supporters of both candidates are calling this the most important election of their lifetime.  Of course, no matter how important the presidential election may be, it is not the only important decision voters have to make this year.

  • Photo of empty classroom

    Effect of K-12 instruction types on reported COVID-19 cases and deaths in Illinois counties

    Few decisions made by state and local governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic have affected families as much as decisions about K-12 instruction types – whether to provide in-person instruction, online-only instruction, or a hybrid of in-person and online instruction. Decisions about instruction types this fall have varied widely across states, counties, and school districts, partly because of differences in COVID-19 case metrics and partly for other reasons, including political differences.

  • Building Board Diversity Logo

    Building Board Diversity is a Win for Springfield and Beyond

    When Raychel McBride and Sarah Tapscott contacted Innovate Springfield about an initiative encouraging more diversity on local nonprofit boards, we only had one question. “When do we start?”

  • Photo of a downtown street from the Illinois Municipal League website

    Illinois Municipalities Face Difficult Decisions during COVID 19 Pandemic

    Six months ago, the world was a completely different place. The American economy was growing. Families were regularly coming together for birthdays, weddings and other special occasions. The 1,298 cities, villages and towns throughout Illinois were providing regular and critical services to support the health, safety and welfare of their residents.

  • Photo of a newspaper front pages above the fold

    Is It A Lost Cause To Get Young People To Read Newspapers?

    When we think about the average reader of a newspaper – the actual paper kind – the profile tends to be older, more educated and more affluent compared to a non-newspaper reader.  Combine that with the stereotypical image of a college student – younger and less affluent with their eyes and fingers glued to a screen – and you might think there’s little chance of ever turning a 20-something into someone who sips their coffee over the morning paper.  It might not all be a lost cause, however.

  • Photo of windmills among grain fields

    Ushering in the New Clean Energy Economy

    It was hard to miss the attention-grabbing headline last month: “California Governor Signs Order Banning Sales of New Gasoline Cars by 2035” (NPR, September 30, 2020). But is the internal combustion engine about to go the way of the horse and buggy within the next 15 years? That much remains to be seen. But with little doubt, California is ushering in a new era of green technology, and it is government “driving” the market, not the other way around.

  • Photo of a ballot box

    Not Voting is Never an Option

    In my role as Dean of a College of Public Affairs, I am bound to the promotion of civic engagement, participation in democratic institutions, and encouraging citizens to vote and participate in our system of government.

  • Image of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on sign in Springfield

    The Great Dissenters: “Writing not for today but for tomorrow”

    In the last decade of her life, Justice Ginsburg was revered as a genuine American cultural icon.  Her life serves as a testimony of the importance to fight for the equal citizenship stature of men and women in the U.S.

  • Man sitting on rock outcropping using a laptop computer.

    Promoting Equity through Digital Inclusion

    In today’s world where everyone needs to be able to connect through the Internet for school, work, and socialization, it is critical that we prioritize finding equitable ways to connect our urban, suburban, and rural areas.

  • Photo of two people shaking hands

    Politics Suck: Can I get an amen?

    Now, do I have your attention? Good, but this article is not about Donald Trump or Joe Biden.

    It’s about you. It’s about me. It’s about us.

    It’s about the type of office politics that we all engage in that undermine the health of our workplaces and our own futures.

  • The Capitol Connection Blog, September 24, 2020, Is it too early to talk about a post-Covid world? by Lenore Killam, MPH Clinical Instructor

    Is It Too Early to Talk About a Post Covid-19 World?

    In our CPAA All-College meeting last week, we discussed the topic of navigating in a “post Covid-19” environment; a future we all look forward to sharing. In the meantime, Covid-19 looms large in each one of our lives. I am pleased to share two important initiatives to move us toward the post-Covid-19 goal.

  • Image of business man entangled in red tape

    Fed Up with the Status Quo: Read This

    Look around your organization. Are you amazed at just how resigned everyone is to the status quo? Does the seeming acceptance of mediocrity bother you?  Despite severe environmental pressures, are the people around you behaving in obviously ineffective ways that could be threatening the very survival of the organization?  The problem is that most organizations are incapable of learning or changing themselves in response to experience (i.e., the discrepancy between expectations and results).  So what is the solution?

  • Trump Controversies Raise Journalism Ethics Questions

    An analysis:  two recent news stories that make President Trump look bad have launched important discussions about journalism ethics. 

  • Robert Rincon, Political Science and Global Studies Lecturer

    When Rhetoric Becomes Reality: Trump, Latinos, and COVID-19

    COVID-19, the global pandemic that resulted from it, and the insufficient U.S. response revealed a multitude of issues but none perhaps as pressing than the direct challenge to President Trump’s nationalist agenda and anti-immigrant rhetoric. As the nation prepares to vote with the effects of the pandemic still looming and President Trump seeking re-election, what must be called to question is the voracity with which he launched his “America first” campaign.

  • September Public Affairs Minute by Dean Robert W Smith

    September Public Affairs Minute: The Labor Day Blues

    The COVID Pandemic has pushed unemployment rates to historic highs (inclusive of swings both up and down).  With sooo many businesses closed or experiencing slowdowns and layoffs occurring across all sectors in response to COVID is this really the time to celebrate Labor Day? Well despite the pain and economic hardships many families are facing maybe there is a reason to actually use Labor Day as a wakeup call to action.

  • Dr. Ty Dooley, Associate Professor of Public Administration

    Race, Housing and Equity

    When we examine housing policy in the United States today, we find huge disparities along racial lines in terms of home ownership, the value of property, and the ability to obtain a mortgage.  These disparities still exist even when accounting for things like geographic location, down payment, and income.

  • Photo of Dr. Brandon Derman, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and the cover of his latest book, "Struggles for Climate Justice"

    Can the COVID crisis teach us to respond to climate change with more justice and impact?

    As the COVID crisis began to bite in Central Illinois this past spring, my Introduction to Cultural Geography students packed up their belongings, left campus, and settled into whatever housing they could, where, among myriad other tasks, they completed their current events papers for my course.  Several of them centered those papers on a developing media narrative:  perhaps Covid-19 held a silver lining for the environment, including the climate, as humans’ greenhouse gas emissions plummeted around the globe.

  • People over Property Protest

    Power in Other Places: On Uprisings, Black Lives Matter, and Politics

    I have always been drawn to the politics of everyday people who act outside of and against conventional politics. This grounds my interest in the resurgence of Black Lives Matter uprisings. I am interested in those moments when presumptively “powerless” people mobilize and realize other powers than those of the established institutional apparatus of politics, an apparatus which includes the police, prisons, courts, and military.

  • Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris

    We Don’t Want to Hear about Kamala Harris’ Shoes

    When vice presidential hopeful Kamala Harris delivers her prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, pay attention to the words used to describe her.  Unfortunately, commentators, opinionmakers and sometimes even news reporters have a bad habit of describing female politicians in ways they rarely or never do about male politicians.

  • Woman working on laptop at home with family in the background

    Many of Your Employees are Miserable: Three Reasons it Could be Your Fault

    Look around you, how many of your employees are fully engaged or immersed in their work? How many seem to be finding fulfillment or joy in what they do?  Now, how many of your employees are apathetic and, at best, grudgingly complying with directives and carrying out their roles and responsibilities?

  • August Public Affairs Minute for the Capitol Connection Blog - Baseball, Politics and Ethics...the National Pastime?

    August Public Affairs Minute: Baseball, Politics and Ethics…The National Pastime?

    Where might I even begin with such a title? And how does baseball relate to public affairs or developments in the College?  Given the serious themes of my past Minute segments, and as a keen baseball fan, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try to blend baseball and public affairs and offer an upbeat reflection of our current circumstances in relation to our national pastime. This seemed timely given that the abbreviated Major League Baseball Season has finally started.

  • COVID and its Impact on Higher Education

    In our article recent article for Administrative Theory & Praxis “COVID and the Impact on Higher Education: The Essential Role of Integrity and Accountability”, we discuss challenges facing postsecondary institutions due to the COVID crisis and the critical roles that institutional integrity and accountability will play for postsecondary institutions in the COVID era, as well as the importance of embracing the role higher education plays in advancing social equity.

  • "Make a little noise with your pens, pencils, your cameras." John Lewis.  An Essay by Prof. Jason Pisica, PAR Director.  The Capitol Connection Blog.  July 21, 2020.  A photo of Kayla Collins, Public Affairs Reporting Graduate, during her internship int he state capitol.

    ‘Make a little noise with your pens, your pencils, your cameras’

    John Lewis had a familiar directive when it came to standing up against racial injustice – get yourself into some “good trouble” while doing it.  As tributes to the civil rights icon and congressman pour in following his death on July 17 at age 80, journalists need to remember those words apply to them, too.

  • Dr. Sibel Oktay Karagul, Assistant Professorof Political Science and Co-Director of Global Studies

    International Students Make Our Education System Richer, Better, and Stronger

    On July 6th, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a guidance that announced: “The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.” As institutions continue to grapple with COVID-19 and how to reopen campuses safely for the fall semester (which is just a few weeks away), the administration’s decision to potentially penalize universities for going fully online in the fall sent shockwaves to all constituents of the U.S. higher education system.

  • 2020 Reset: Do not give up on the year just yet …

    We recently past the 2020 half-way point. Have you given up on your hopes and dreams for the year? Do you feel like the goals that you set for this year are no longer possible? Have you settled into a wait-and-see pattern, and now just trying to tread water? It’s understandable. After all, we all tend to move toward urgency, and we are still dealing with a global pandemic.

    For many of you, it is time for a reset. Many of you need to pick a direction and start swimming so that your long-term goals do not drown (i.e., die) along with your yearly goals. 

  • Dean's July Quarterly Connection - COVID-19 Update

    An update on response to COVID 19 by the U of I System, UIS, and College , and an outline of the disruptions, our responses, and our plans.

  • Economic Update July 2020: The Shortest? And Deepest Recession in Generations?

    At the time of this post, the United States economy clings is at a crossroads. The economic slowdown engendered by the coronavirus pandemic and measures to contain its spread were the deepest on record, but there are already signs that the recession may be over. There are lingering issues and pain from the recession, especially in the labor market. But there is a palpable sense that the situation may be resolving itself. However, the economy faces many uncertainties going forward. The question is whether the sense of recovery comes from false hope generated by temporarily good economic news or whether it signals a return to a “normal” economic situation.

  • Fireworks above the University of Illinois Springfield colonnade

    Let’s all use July 4th to celebrate and learn!

    Once again it’s the July 4th Holiday. A celebration of Independence Day for our nation. But it’s also a sure sign of summer, barbeques and family gatherings, fireworks, and trips to the mountains, lakes and beaches. Well, it traditionally has been. COVID 19 has likely put a wrench into many family plans and vacations. For many of us, we will still try to get away somewhere, maybe locally get together with friends and colleagues, maybe even teach or take courses! But no matter what you do, perhaps the best Fourth of July wish from us to you is to please stay safe and healthy!

  • Dr. Sean McCandless, Assistent Professor of Public Administration and Associate Director of the Doctor of Public Administration Program

    Taking Stock of Bostock

    Last month, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) handed down a 6-3 ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County. The central finding from SCOTUS was that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects employees based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Put more simply, an employer cannot fire an employee simply for identifying as a LGBTQ+.

  • Environmental Studies students collection trash from Lake Springfield.

    Reducing the Use of Plastic Bags: Five Lessons from Illinois Communities with Plastic Bag Laws

    This summer, we have been busy interviewing active citizens, elected officials, and public employees in five Illinois communities that have passed laws designed to curb the use of plastic bags to understand why they took an action on the plastic bag issue, how they designed their local ordinances, and what challenges they have faced during implementation.  Our research project is still in progress, but we would like to offer a sneak peek at what we have learned from our interviews - here are five things you should keep in mind if your city is thinking about adopting a plastic bag ordinance.

  • A Place to Call Home – But Not For Everyone

    Dismantling systemic racism must include addressing the denial of rentals to voucher holders. The seemingly neutral policy of refusing to accept Housing Choice Vouchers (commonly known as Section 8), often disproportionately affects minorities.

  • Returning to work: Here is one way to focus your energy & attention

    As you return to work, I want to invite you to wrestle with an important question. Where should I focus my energy and attention right now?  Better yet, there is a different form of this question that you should use as the starting point for rethinking how you work. On whom should I focus my energy and attention right now?

  • Trump targets Twitter; what will happen to free speech?

    "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."  Back when I was the online editor of The State Journal-Register, this sentence went through my mind often as I kept track of the flood of reader comments that appeared under the online version of our journalists’ news stories.

  • June Public Affairs Minute: Time for Action

    In the midst of coping with the devastating COVID 19 Pandemic, we are now facing yet another complicated societal tragedy stemming from the death of an African American, George Floyd, at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The outrage, especially in the African American community, has spilled out across the country with protests, marches and demonstrations. This event and the response reveals the sharp racial and other divides that still exist in this country.  Those of us with degrees in the public affairs and professional disciplines, like those from our College, understand and lament the lack of progress in American society on so many fundamental social issues.

  • Centering the Ocean in an Uncertain World: A Post for Inland Communities on World Oceans Day

    June 8 is World Oceans Day. And on every June 8 since 1992, this day has marked an opportunity to raise awareness about the benefits humans derive from the ocean, as well as humans’ reciprocal duty to protect the ocean and use its resource responsibly and sustainably.

  • Statement of Educational Priorities of the Criminology and Criminal Justice Department at UIS

    At UIS, the Criminology and Criminal Justice Department works to prepare our students for the challenges they will face in careers that focus less on social control strategies and military tactics and more on critical thinking and understanding world views beyond only their own.

  • COVID-19: Present and Future Challenges for Education Leaders

    When Governor JB Pritzker issued a Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12, 2020, the effects on the P-20 education spectrum were complex and far reaching.

  • We can emerge Stronger Together: Covid-19 and the places we work

    Prior to Covid-19, there were two focusing events or crises that dramatically changed my perspective on life: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the April 16, 2007 killing of 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech. While vastly different, the Covid-19 pandemic and the upending of life as we know it since early March 2020 is the third such focusing event that I have experienced. Focusing events force us to rethink and reset our priorities. This resetting often includes a renewed emphasis on our shared humanity that falls under the mantra or rallying cry of Stronger Together.

  • To China and Back: A Student’s Air Pollution Study Leads to Adventures beyond the Academic

    Before I began my research project “Investigation of Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality in China and United States: Volatile Organic Compounds”, I had never experienced the feeling of holding a project so near and dear to my heart that I would fall asleep thinking about it and wake up in the morning having the project on my mind.

  • Learn more about World No Tobacco Day

    Protecting Youth - World No Tobacco Day Observed

    World No Tobacco Day 2020:  Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use.  Learn about the impact that tobacco use has on the health of people, the economy, and the environmment, and how you can join the fight against the tobacco epidemic.

  • Blooming pea plant in garden

    Compost for a Healthier Earth and a Healthier You 

    Observe Learn About Composting Day on May 29th.  According to a National Gardening Association report, 35% of households in the US grow food either at home or in a community garden, an increase of 200% between 2008 and 2017. Now with people still struggling to find food in groceries stores due to the COVID 19 pandemic, there has been another surge in interest.  Anyone can grow their own food, indoors or out, and a good way to begin is to create your own compost.

  • Stop Domestic Violence

    How to Help Abuse Victims during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic

    Across the world, people are spending a lot more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Shelter in place orders and closures have put extra stress on families.  Economic uncertainty and social isolation have also been linked to increased use of substances and mental health issues.  These stressors and negative effects have been exacerbated for abuse victims, particularly those who are currently living in an abusive environment, where spending extra time at home can lead to even more danger, with few outlets for escape.