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The Capitol Connection
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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  • Headshot of Dr. Brook Depenbusch, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Brooke Depenbusch, Legal Studies

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Brooke Depenbusch, Assistant Professor in the Department of Legal Studies, whose teaching and research center on the intersection between economic inequality, state structure & social policy, and social movements in the modern United States.

  • Image of hand with index finger pointing towards text: "Poll" with a black background

    Want to know who is going to win an election? Ask the voters!

    Out of growing concern about the ability of polling to accurately capture voter intention and “predict” the results of an upcoming election, some researchers have begun to explore a switch from asking voters who they intend to vote for to so-called “citizen forecasts.”

  • Photo of event flyer

    “The Election is Over. Now What?” - Nov. 11th Event

    The UIS School of Politics & International Affairs will host a post-election panel discussion on “The Election is Over. Now What?” on Friday, November 11th at 6pm.

  • Image of "I Voted" stickers on a white background

    2022 U.S. Senate Elections

    This semester in PSC 407: Campaigns and Elections, political science students at UIS have been researching some of the most competitive and high-profile congressional elections taking place in 2022. Here is some of their analysis.  

  • Photo of Dr. Beth Ribarsky, Professor in the UIS School of Communication & Media, teaching her COM class

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Beth Ribarsky, School of Communication & Media

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Beth Ribarsky, Professor in the UIS School of Communication & Media, who's areas of teaching, scholarship, and service include interpersonal communication, especially within romantic relationships, as well as public speaking, assessment and pedagogy.


  • Photo of an Election Judge Manual

    Become an Election Judge This Election Day

    With less than three weeks until Election Day, our TVs, mobile screens and U.S. mailboxes have been bombarded with advertising messages from political candidates and the organizations who support them.  Let me provide you with one more election-related message – if not for this election, then the next one: Sign up to be an election judge.

  • A map of Illinois Congressional Districts after the 2020 Census highlighting Disctrict 13

    The 2022 Midterm Elections and Illinois 13

    Election Day is fast approach. This year, many members of the UIS community, those who are registered to vote in Illinois’s 13th congressional district, will have the relatively unique opportunity of electing a new representative to the U.S. House of Representatives.

  • Photo of iphone with Social Media icons

    Time for a social media break?

    Many of today’s college juniors and seniors report opening their first social media account (usually on Facebook, with a parent’s help) when they were around 10 years old. That means they’ve spent half of their lifetimes on the app!

  • Image of Dr. Martin's book cover:  Text - "Mentoring the Mentor:  Celebrating the Intersection of Learning Together, A Reciprocal Journey" by Jennifer L Martin and Jennifer N. Brooks

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jennifer Martin, School of Education

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Jennifer Martin, Associate Professor in the UIS School of Education, who's teaching, scholarship, and service intersect with her educational advocacy for historically marginalized and underserved populations. 

  • Photo of four UIS students in class on the 1st day of class FA22

    Dean Smith's September Public Affairs Minute

    Welcome back as we start our new 2022-23 academic year! I’m going to jump right in and address a topic that represents the ”Elephant in the Room” in any discussions about public affairs, public policy and politics today! It involves the political volatility or outright violence being displayed between our two main political parties and zealous followers at both ends of the political spectrum. table.

  • Photo of Dr. Daniel Platt, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Daniel Platt, Legal Studies

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Daniel Platt, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies, whose research focuses on the intersection of legal history, legal culture, and the history of capitalism.

  • Background photo of a gray tool box with red handled tools on a wood table, with text, "Fixing Polarization" in the foreground

    Institutional Fixes for Growing Political Polarization

    Previously I wrote a detailed blog about the rise of affective partisan polarization in America. A question I’ve gotten since that post is “well what do we do about it?!”

  • Dr. Jae Sik Ha (far right) with his COM 309 Intro to Social Media class in the Fall of 2019.

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jae Sik Ha, School of Communication & Media

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight of Dr. Jae Sik Ha, Associate Professor in the UIS School of Communication & Media, whose background is in journalism and whose teaching and research focuses on the relationships bewtween media and society.

  • Book cover: Before Bostock: The Accidental LGBTQ Precedent of Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, Jason Pierceson.  Photo of Dr. Jason Pierceson, Professor of Political Science

    Conservative Judges and Transgender Rights After Bostock v. Clayton County

    In a book recently published by the University Press of Kansas, Before Bostock: The Accidental Precedent of Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, I explore the background of the recent landmark LGBTQ rights case of Bostock v. Clayton County (2020).

  • Sherrie Elzinga speaking with a student at a UIS Graduate Student Fair

    One Last Thought

    In August of 2017, I was fortunate to be offered my dream job as Director of the Office of Graduate Intern Programs in the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS.

  • Photo of the UIS Young Lincoln Statue surrounded by flowering bushes with the UIS Colonnade in the background, taken by Blake Woods on July 1st, 2022.

    July Represents a Month of Renewal for our College and University

    As of July we are now officially the College of Public Affairs and Education.

  • Photo of black gun on black background with text "Firearms Policy"

    American Attitudes towards Potential Firearm Policies: Surprising Areas of Agreement, Unsurprising Partisan Influence Largely Remains

    This blog post is meant to address what Americans think about such firearm safety proposals using public opinion data. To be clear, this blog post is not advocating for or against such proposals. There are plenty of passionate write ups advocating for certain positions and you can find those elsewhere.

  • Photo of Ariel Van Cleave

    Ariel Van Cleave named PAR broadcast instructor

    Ariel Van Cleave, senior editor for audio and interim managing editor for Chicago public radio station WBEZ, will serve as the Public Affairs Reporting program's adjunct broadcast writing instructor beginning this fall.

  • Image of nations listed on a white background:  United States, India, Nigeria, Ghana, The Gambia, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Brazil, Myanmar, Spain, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Liberia, Mexico, Netherlands

    GPSI: Onward and Upward!

    We’re thrilled to announce a record-breaking interview round for GPSI this May, not only did we place the highest number of interns, but we also had the most intern positions and intern applicants.

  • Flyer for the Youth Evolvement Summit - July 1st - 9:00am - 2:00pm - Springfield High School

    Investing in Youth – Youth Evolvement Summit & Job Fair on July 1

    UIS students and alumni are playing important roles in a collaborative community effort to host a Youth Evolvement Summit to be held at Springfield HS on July 1.

  • B&W Photo of US Capitol, left half covered in blue overlay, right half covered in red overlay

    (Affective) Partisanship is a Heck of a Drug: What is it and Why We Might Want to Be Concerned About it.

    The growing animosity between Democrats and Republicans in America is a well-discussed problem.  A term academic research uses to describe the problem is “affective polarization.” What’s fascinating (or perhaps a bit alarming) is that the rise in affective partisanship is less about supporting or disagreeing on matters of legislative policy and instead is about our partisanship becoming key component of our identity.

  • Aerial view of the UIS Campus with the UIS Colonnade in the foreground and the UIS Student Union in the background

    UIS to host Midwest Public Affairs Conference

    On June 23-24, the UIS College of Public Affairs and Administration is hosting the 2022 Midwest Public Affairs Conference (MPAC) and this year the theme is “Designing and Running the Innovative Public Service Agency.” 

  • Photo of Dr. Junfeng Wang.  Text:  Congratulations to Dr. Junfeng Wang!!  Dr. Junfeng Wang has been appointed the Academic Program Lead for the Masters of Public Administration Program in the UIS School of Public Management and Policy

    Dr. Junfeng Wang appointed Lead for MPA Program

    The School of Public Policy and Management at the University of Illinois Springfield congratulates Dr. Junfeng Wang on her appointment as Academic Program Lead for the Masters of Public Administration Program.

  • Photo of a roll of "I Voted" stickers

    Continuing America’s Laboratory of Democracy Through State and Local Electoral Innovations

    A recurring finding among researchers is that American voters have grown dissatisfied with the electoral system in America.  This post discusses alternative voting systems and related research conducted by the staff and faculty of the Center for State Policy and Leadership which was recently published in American Politics Research, a peer-reviewed academic journal.

  • Photo of Dr. Betsy Goulet. Text:  Congratulations to Dr. Betsy Goulet!  Dr. Betsy Goulet  has been  appointed the  Academic  Program Lead  for the Human Services Program in the UIS  School of Public  Management  and Policy

    Dr. Betsy Goulet Appointed APL for the Human Services Program

    The School of Public Policy and Management at the University of Illinois Springfield congratulates Dr. Betsy Goulet on her appointment as Academic Program Lead for the Human Services Program.

  • Photo of Kevin Kulavic, ILSIP Alum (2011-12) pictured with fellow ILSIP alums Josh Horeled and Margaret Nunne

    ILSIP Interviews - Round #2

    The Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program (ILSIP) has announced a second round of interviews, focused on filling ten remaining positions.

  • Black graduation cap with a blue and white 2022 tassle

    Commencement and Graduation and Pomp and Circumstance: What does it Really Mean?

    Just what is graduation, what is commencement, why are they important life milestones? Let’s take a brief look.

  • Photo of a black graduation cap with a "2022" tassle

    Some Career Reflections as Graduation and Next Steps Lie Ahead for Our Students

    Send us your advice to new graduates on how to start their career.

  • Graphic of the Capitol on the edge of a cliff

    The $195 Billion Challenge: Facing State Fiscal Cliffs After COVID-19 Aid Expires

    Join an exclusive webinar to discuss the forthcoming issue paper:  The $195 Billion Challenge:  Facing State Fiscal Cliffs After COVID-19 Aid Expires, part of the State and Local Budgeting in the COVID Era Issue Paper Series, on Wednesday, May 11, 2022, at 11 a.m. EDT.

  • Photo of Dr. Yu-Sheng Lee, Assistant Professor of Public Health

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Yu-Sheng Lee, MPH

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight of Dr. Yu-Sheng Lee, Assistant Professor of Public Health, whose research has focused on various chronic diseases such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, lung cancer, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 

  • UIS Public Affairs Program presents The State of Statehouse Reporting, Wednesday, May 4th, 2022, noon.  Register:

    Join PAR May 4 for ‘The State of Statehouse Reporting’

    Jason Piscia, PAR Director, invites you to a Zoom event the Public Affairs Reporting program is hosting at noon on May 4 on a report released earlier this month by the Pew Research Center which details the number of journalists who cover America's statehouses, including our own here in Springfield.

  • Dr. Brandon Derman and Dr. Megan Styles, Environemtnal Studies faculty, at a climate protest ont he Quad in 2019

    Waiting on the world to change? Happy Earth Day everybody – now let’s talk about the climate crisis!

    In February of this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began to roll out its Sixth Assessment Report (or AR6). As Dr. Brandon read the report, a familiar pattern caught his eye - “things are getting worse, but there’s a bright side….” 

  • Photo of DeJoie Simmons, MPA & GPS Intern

    MPA- A Master of Plentiful Activities

    Research shows undergraduate students benefit immensely from active participation in on-campus activities, so why shouldn’t the same be true from graduate students?

  • Photo of Jason Piscia giving a talk at an UIS Lunch and Learn series event

    Journalism: Where we’ve been, where we’re going

    My talk focused on the critical role of local journalism and how cutbacks in local newsrooms over the years have affected media outlets' abilities to adequately cover their communities, providing residents with the information they need to make informed decisions.  My report wasn't all gloom, however.

  • Photo of Dr. Youngjin Kang, Assistant Professor of Human Services

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Youngjin Kang, SPMP

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Youngjin Kang, Assistant Professor of Human Services in the UIS School of Public Policy and Management, whose research focuses on how family members develop and maintain their relationships after transitions in family structure (e.g., divorce, remarriage). 

  • "and breathe" spelled out in fluorescent lighting with green leaves in the background

    April Public Affairs Minute: Mental Health Days for Students, Professors and Staff and You!

    A new law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, that gives Illinois students five mental health days to use throughout the year without a doctor's note.  This brief message is another plea to step back and take a break.

  • Photo of Jennifer Haegele-Ryterski, 2019 DPA Cohort

    STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Jennifer Haegele-Ryterski, 2019 DPA Cohort

    Jennifer Haegele-Ryterski is a DPA student in the 2019 cohort who has been working with DPA Associate Director Dr. Sean McCandless on better understanding the experiences of people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ+) in the criminal-legal system, particularly in probation.

  • Photo of Dr. Denise Bockmier-Sommers with text "Wishing a Happy Retirement to Dr. Denise Bockmier-Sommers, Associate Professor & Human Services Academic Program Lead"

    Human Services Program - the End of an Era

    Saying farewell to Dr. Denise Bockmier-Sommers, Associate Professor & Human Services Program Lead, as she retires at the end of this academic year.

  • Photo of Alex Degman, 2009 PAR Graduate

    PAR Alumni Spotlight: Alex Degman returns to Illinois Capitol

    Public Affairs Reporting Director Jason Piscia chats with Alex Degman, PAR '09, who is returning to Springfield after nearly five years with KMOX in St. Louis as an anchor and reporter.

  • Dr. Kenneth Kriz, Distinguished Professor of Public Administration, in front of the UIS Student Union

    The Economy at the Start of 2022

    The economy at the start of 2022 can be summarized by the proverbial glass-half-full or glass-half-empty scenario. In this blog post, I will attempt to summarize the current data on the national, state, and regional economy, address concerns that continue to plague the economy, and summarize forecaster’s best guesses about what the economy will do for the rest of this year and into 2023.

  • Photo of Dr. Kenneth Kriz, Professor of Public Administration and image of a graph showing the Change in Net Position as a Percentage of General Revenues,  Illinois and Other States, Fiscal Year 2010-2020

    The Financial Condition of the State of Illinois

    Analyzing the financial condition of a large organization like the State of Illinois is a complex task, to put it mildly.  But in the following few paragraphs, we will try to describe the financial condition of Illinois at the end of the last fiscal year.

  • Watch replay: Ray Long talks about his new book about former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan

    On March 17, the Public Affairs Reporting program hosted a conversation with Ray Long, the longtime investigative reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He recently authored a book about the political career of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

  • Photo of Ukrainian flag backlit by the sun

    March Public Affairs Minute - Ukraine and Why It Matters at UIS

    In our College, the impetus behind creating our new School of Politics and International Affairs (SPIA) was to recognize the importance of our political environment at home and abroad.

  • Photo of a bridge under construction

    President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law: What State and Local Policy Makers and Practitioners Need to Know?

    President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Job Act is a bipartisan law passed in November 2021 is essentially equivalent to a 5-year capital improvement program financed by the federal government and implemented by state and local governments. 

  • Dr. Magic Wade pictured with her dog in front of a painted mural of a fox on a brick wall

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Magic Wade, SPIA

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Magic Wade, Associate Professor of Political Science in the UIS School of Politics and International Affairs, whose research focuses on state labor laws, teachers unions, and public safety unions and more recently, on criminal justice, public safety, and urban politics.

  • Photo of Ray Long, PAR graduate with image of his book cover, “The House That Madigan Built: The Record Run of Illinois' Velvet Hammer”

    PAR grad Ray Long talks about Michael Madigan with us on March 17

    Ray Long, PAR '81, chronicles Speaker Madigan’s storied legislative career in a new book – “The House That Madigan Built: The Record Run of Illinois' Velvet Hammer”, which comes out March 22.  We’d like to invite you to join us on Zoom at noon March 17 to hear from Long about his book and his career covering Madigan.

  • Dr. Bob Blankenberger with DPA Candidate Annie Brooks (DPA '19)

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Bob Blankenberger, SPMP

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Bob Blankenberger, Associate Professor of Public Administration in the UIS School of Public Management and Policy, whose research interests are focused on educational policy, program evaluation, and how to improve educational attainment.

  • Time to Create an Illinois Academy of Politics?

    There are many concerns surrounding our current political discourse in our nation today. I would like to change course a bit in my past reflections about the nature of our disappointing and curious political environment in 2022. In fact, I’m hoping to interject a sense of hope and optimism at a time when that seems hard to identify.

  • Photo of Deidre Graham Silas

    We Know This Much is True

    Deidre Graham Silas was laid to rest this past weekend, in a beautiful service that intentionally celebrated the life she lived, rather than the circumstances that tragically ended her life on January 5th.  But to fully understand this reflective piece it is sadly necessary to point out how Deidre’s life was ended....

  • Photo of a newspaper being printed

    Your Local Newspaper Is In Trouble

    The most recent figures from Pew Research Center’s analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the number of newsroom employees in the United States fell by 26% since 2008.  Most of that loss has happened at newspapers, which often is a community’s best source of consistent, in-depth, solid watchdog news coverage.