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College of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Illinois Springfield
Thought Leadership

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  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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: 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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: 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, 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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+.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The Politics of a Virus

    Commentary on the political divide during the COVID 19 pandemic by Dr. Robert Smith, Dean of the College of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Illinois Springfield on NPR Illinois.

  • Saving Local News

    Local journalism was in serious trouble before anyone heard of COVID-19, but amid a worldwide shutdown intended to stem the spread of the dangerous virus, the financial struggles of your local media outlet are even more serious now. So how can we fix this?

  • LGBTQ Elected Officials & Candidates – Is Representation Fair and Equal?

    Political scientists have established that identity can influence representation by bringing issues to the policy process that were not previously addressed. Unfortunately, LGBTQ policy suffers from significant underrepresentation.

  • Local News – Needed Now More Than Ever

    Trif Alatzas discusses the need for local news in today’s world.  Alatzas led The Baltimore Sun team that was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting "for illuminating, impactful" investigations into city and state government.

  • 10 Ways to Celebrate Endangered Species Day

    Celebrate 15th Annual Endangered Species Day on May 15th, 2020. Endangered Species Day is an opportunity for people of all ages to celebrate and learn about endangered species and how to protect them.

  • Ready for the New Normal: My Research Remote Presentation

    Dr. Crocker's thoughts on virtual conferences, the new normal?

  • May Public Affairs Minute: The Role of a Free Press in a Democratic Society

    Journalists are trained to be objective observers, uncover the facts, keep sources confidential and question stakeholders, citizens, politicians, corporate and military leaders, and their institutions. The purpose is to shed light, provide transparency, ferret out lies and insure accuracy. Indeed, this focus on the truth is the fundamental role of a free press in democratic society.

  • The Illinois Economy and Public Finances in 2020: Difficult Challenges, No Easy Answers

    On January 15, 2020, the World Economic Forum released its 2020 Global Risks Report, which laid out several threats to world economic growth, ranking them on scales of likelihood and impact. Among the most pressing threats were climate change, extreme weather, biodiversity loss, natural disasters, cyberattacks, and manmade environmental disasters. Infectious diseases were ranked #10 on the list of strongest impacts but did not make the top 10 in terms as likelihood (World Economic Forum, 2020). But a few months can certainly change outlooks.

  • Separate and Unequal: PR in the USA Map Amid Covid-19

    Is a USA map complete in 2020 leaving out America’s populated unincorporated territories - Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, United States Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa?

  • May 3rd is World Press Freedom Day. Thank a Journalist.

    World Press Freedom Day -- established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 and observed annually on May 3 -- is a chance to celebrate the free press principles we enjoy in the United States.  America’s journalists -- from the largest national outlets in New York and D.C. to the tiny newspapers in rural towns throughout the country -- work hard to reveal the truth the public needs.

  • COVID-19 Adds Pressure to the Already Stressed Child Welfare System

    Dr. Betsy Goulet, Public Administration, and Dr. Kent Redfield, Political Science Professor Emeritus, collaborate on U of I System report on the effects of COVID 19 on the Illinois Child Welfare System.

  • WHO Releases Report: “The Potential Impact of Health Service Disruptions on the Burden Of Malaria”

    Follow up on World Malaria Day post:  WHO estimates that nearly 800,000 People May Die From Malaria Due to COVID-19 Disruptions.

  • Prepare For Pandemics And Transform Yourself Into a Global Public Health Leader with the MPH Program at UIS

    World Malaria Day (April 25) is around the corner. Public health professionals continue to debate the safety and effectiveness of anti-malaria drugs to treat patients with COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2). The challenges in managing this pandemic go beyond developing effective treatment regimens. The necessary public health action plans need strong scientific-based research skills, which you will learn through MPH learning experiences at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS).

  • Earth Day: Celebrating 50 Years of Environmental Awareness & Action

    Today, Earth Day remains an important day to reflect on how far we have come, identify the problems that we must still solve, and decide what actions to take to protect and restore the ecosystems that sustain all of us.

    Although COVID-19 may keep us from gathering together at large public rallies this year, here are three things you can do to celebrate Earth Day today and every day.

  • COVID-19 Case Projections for Illinois Counties

    Many researchers have already created models with projections for COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, intensive care unit stays, and/or deaths. 

    I have created a model that relies on the fact that some parts of the country are further along the growth curve of the pandemic to produce COVID-19 case projections for Illinois counties. I use data only from the 48 contiguous states, with the expectation that those states provide a better comparison for Illinois than foreign countries do. And I make no assumptions about the virus or the effects of social distancing on transmission of the virus; instead, the model’s projections are based only on the actual data from the 48 states.

  • Commentary: The Coronavirus and The Citizen

    The COVID 19 pandemic continues to unfold here in Illinois and the United States. There will likely be more cases, more fatalities, efforts of all kinds to contain and address this terrible life threatening virus that is wreaking havoc in and around the globe.  

    From the vantage point of the average citizen the questions are what happens next, what will life be like in the days, and months ahead? 

    Because I sit alone in my apartment trying to practice social distancing, I have some time to contemplate what’s next, what happened, and where is the average citizen in all this?  

  • Survival Techniques: Three approaches to overcoming and managing the panic associated with Covid-19

    There are a number myths linked with Covid-19 which create fear, panic, and a false sense of security. Myths are dangerously influential during a public health crisis, often obstructing your ability to make reliable informed decisions. 

    Individuals who quickly adapt to their new normal experience less stress and anxiety during the crisis, and make better decisions while continuing to move forward in their daily lives.

    This post will provide techniques that help to identify and avoid the dangerous myths that increase fear, panic and false hope.