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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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  • Photo of an African American man reading a business newspaper at a desk

    A Teachable Moment: Public Spaces Are Not Public

    There are two Americas. The myth and the reality. The shining city on the hill, beacon of hope and justice, and the other America bound by discrimination and despair.

  • ppsj primary jpeg

    Improving Public Safety in our Communities – Introducing the Project for Public Safety and Justice at UIS

    The mission of the Project for Public Safety and Justice (PPSJ) is to promote public safety as a philosophy and practice for all members of a community. It is through partnerships and community engagement; organizational change and transformation; innovative approaches and strong community based leadership combined with quality technical assistance and training that the essence of community policing is redefined and applied to enhance the quality of life across the United States.  PPSJ continues to play its roll in this endeavor by looking to the future in an effort to take good research and transform it into practical applications through national and local initiatives.

  • The Status of Black Lives Matter: A shift in Policy, Culture, Justice, and Reform - A video presentation.  Images of four preserters.

    The Status of Black Lives Matter: A Shift in Policy, Culture, Justice, and Reform

    As part of Black History Month, this panel discussion by African-American faculty and staff from the University of Illinois at Springfield, Tessica C. Dooley J.D., Assistant Professor in Legal Studies, Dr. Ty Price Dooley, Associate Professor in Public Administration, Dr. Tiffani Saunders, Lecturer in Sociology/Anthropology and African American Studies, and Justin J. Rose, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, will encourage students and the general audience to learn about societal issues including policing, healthcare, housing, and other economic disparities in the African American community, in twenty-first century America, that inform and led to the formation and evolution of the Black Lives Matter Movement.  

  • Costarters logo

    Get Started with CO.STARTERS @iSPI

    Quick question ━ are you entrepreneurial? Scratch that. Have you ever had a lemonade stand? Have you ever tried to sell something that you made? Do you have an excellent process, product, service, or recipe that you think others could benefit from and would pay for?

    If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you could answer “yes” to the first question. You are entrepreneurial!

    The trouble is, entrepreneurs have great ideas and often don’t have the means or the support to see them through. That’s why CO.STARTERS at Innovate Springfield is an excellent opportunity for anyone ready to invest in their big idea and turn it into a reality.

  • The Illinois Legislative Staff Internship Program – A Tapestry of Opportunity

    The Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program otherwise known as ILSIP is different from the other internships offered at UIS and from most other universities as well. ILSIP was designed to provide those interested in exploring the legislative process with an opportunity to do so.

    Today, ILSIP interns are sprinkled throughout the legislative arena, state government and beyond as key staff, lawyers, lobbyists, and elected officials. In the fall, ILSIP celebrates its 60th anniversary. As this tapestry of opportunity continues to grow, become a part as an intern or pass this information along to someone who may be interested in becoming a member of the next ILSIP cohort.  

  • CSPL Logo

    The Centerpiece February 17, 2021

    This month we share with you our vision for the Center of State Policy and Leadership (CSPL), describe how we meet our mission and explain what we have done to adapt during COVID-19.  As we evolve and grow, we look forward to delivering to you our strategic thinking and our journey and hope to engage you in our efforts.     

  • Andrea Zelinski stands on Zealand Mountain in New Hampshire during her seven-month hike on the Appalachian Trail.

    PAR Alumni Spotlight: Andrea Zelinski hikes 2,193-mile Appalachian Trail

    In the years since completing the Public Affairs Reporting program in 2008, Andrea Zelinski has been covering politics and government for news organizations in Illinois, Tennessee and Texas. But in 2020, she pause her journalism career for a seven-month journey on the Appalachian Trail, the 2,193-mile hiking trail that covers 14 states.

  • Partnerships to Prevent Child Fatalities and Train the Workforce

    Next week, the Child Protection Training Academy will mark five years of operation on the University of Illinois Springfield campus.  In February 2016, the first group of newly hired DCFS child protection investigators came to campus to experience the recently launched simulation training model developed in partnership with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.  The tiny house on the UIS campus was transformed to become a cutting-edge training facility where DCFS investigators could interact with “family members” (Standardized Patient Actors from the SIU-School of Medicine) investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect in a realistic environment.  As a result of the pandemic, the Academy has become proficient in a virtual training format and continues to use technology in areas to improve the training.  The Academy is excited to think about the potential for improvement in critical thinking of all students, especially those who enter into the workforce to advocate for children.  Learning is often limited by thinking ideas are impossible; the Academy dares to achieve the impossible.

  • Illinois state Capitol in Springfield in January with snow on the ground

    Time for the State of Illinois to Stop Using Debt to Finance Current Services

    One of the basic tenets of governmental budgeting is that current services should be paid for with recurring revenues rather than one-time funds, such as debt. In a study of state budgeting practices, the Volcker Alliance rates Illinois as one of the three worst states in terms of relying on one-time budget maneuvers (Volcker Alliance, 2020). This practice pushes a portion of the costs of current services onto future taxpayers and makes it more difficult to balance the budget in future years.  This blog describes the types and magnitudes of debt that the State of Illinois has used to pay for current services and calls for a plan to stop this practice.

  • Sign up today for the Illinois United Way Equity Challenge

    21 Week Equity Challenge

    We recognize there is a significant need for us as individuals and organizations to gain a better understanding of how inequity and racism impact so many of our neighbors and learn what we can do to dismantle all forms of oppression.

  • Text:  Change, Hope, Renewal in front of four images of the U.S. Capitol, MLK Street Art, gavel and scales, hand on bible

    Change, Hope, and Renewal

    The January 6th Capitol riot, Martin Luther King Day Celebrations, the Inauguration of President Biden and the pending Impeachment Trial of Donald Trump. What a start to 2021! What do all four events/days have in common? Nothing some may say, and everything, others may suggest. I’m in the group that will highlight some important similarities and very real differences between these events.

  • The Depth of Illinois Debt Problem and its Potential Consequences

    Most Illinoisans know that the state is in debt, and many understand that it has a large debt. However, few understand just how large the debt is and the potential consequences for the state. At the Institute for Illinois Public Finance, we have been developing measures of states' debt burden over the last year for a research project on the effects of fiscal imbalances like debt on economic growth.  While our larger research project will focus on all states and local governments, the data that we have collected should be interesting to all Illinoisans.

  • Do You Have Information Problems? Meet the Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies (ILLAPS) at the University of Illinois Springfield

    When government entities or non-profit organizations want to make decisions on policies and practices, they often run into the problem of not having necessary, easy to understand information to move their work forward. This often leads to uncertainty, inaction, or incomplete decisions. However, it doesn’t have to be like that.

    The Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies (ILLAPS) in the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS’ mission is to help solve these information problems for non-profits and government entities of all sizes. In coordination with our partners, we solve information problems in three ways:

  • Aim for the Future: Goal Setting and Goal Sharing Innovate Springfield

    According to research, writing down a goal, assessing our commitment and motivation towards that goal, and then sharing progress with peers greatly increases our chances for success! Five years ago, this is exactly what Innovate Springfield and the Continuum of Learning did. They put their minds together, along with voices from all over the community, toward the goal of improving outcomes for Sangamon County children facing multiple barriers. Now, it’s time to share the progress that Innovate Springfield has made with the community! We are compiling the statistics and stories that show how much Sangamon Success has accomplished in five years and building a progress report that will fuel our growth in years to come. In order to tell the whole story, however, we need help. 

  • A Path Forward for Graduate Internships at UIS

    The Graduate Public Service Intern (GPSI) Program is one of nine units within the University of Illinois Springfield’s (UIS) Center for State Policy and Leadership (CSPL).  This program affords eligible graduate students an introduction to public service, the opportunity to get work experience in their field of study, and provides students a tuition waiver and monthly stipend that makes graduate school more affordable.  The Program allows participating agencies an opportunity to educate and train potential future public service professionals and obtain necessary help on various projects throughout their agencies.

  • Image of a reporter in a helmet in front of protesters in the middle of a street.

    Time to stop hating on journalists for reporting facts

    I didn’t get into journalism to be liked. But I didn’t get into it to be hated, either. After the last four years of President Trump’s attacks on the media, his followers feel more emboldened than ever to direct hateful language and dangerous threats toward journalists trying to do their jobs.

  • Image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr at a podium during a speech.  Message: "Honoring Dr. Marting Luther King Jr.  Quote:  This is a time for action.

    “Where Do We Go From Here?” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Address at the 11th Annual SCLC Convention

    In August 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the 11th Annual Student Christian Leadership Congress (SCLC) in Atlanta, Georgia before over 100 Black leaders.  In his address, he asked the question, “Where Do we Go From Here?”.  He eloquently talked about the major accomplishments and tasks ahead for SCLC.  Dr. King urged Black leaders to organize and register voters in order to elect individuals who would address Black Americans’ social, political and economic issues.

  • U.S. flag flying at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

    Violent Protest or Seditious Conspiracy

    While watching the events of January 6, 2021, in Washington D.C., I, like many other Americans, felt a wide range of emotions. First shock and disbelief that our Capitol was under siege by its own citizens. Second, confusion as I realized that this was not a protest for better wages, equal rights, or climate change but a protest over the outcome of an election that occurred two months ago. Finally, the criminal lawyer in me couldn’t help but analyze the legal consequences that each one of these rioters would potentially be facing if arrested.

  • Black and white image of the U.S. Capitol dome at night

    The Path of Least Resistance: A Reflection on the Events of January 6th

    I never imagined writing this. But I also never imagined witnessing what unfolded as I prepared for the Spring Semester this past week, working on courses while watching the Senate and the House certify the electoral college votes on the afternoon of January 6th.

  • Logo for the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership

    Introduction to the CSPL Centerpiece

    With the start of 2021, CSPL enthusiastically joins in partnership with the College of Public Affairs and Administration (CPAA) to administer and connect with you via The Capitol Connection Blog (thank you CPAA!).  One goal for CSPL is to communicate, connect and collaborate more to build awareness and increase public value of CSPL.  Many years ago, CSPL released a monthly newsletter called The Centerpiece.  Built on great history, The Centerpiece will serve as the identifying monthly blog entry for CSPL. 

  • Image of th UIS Young Lincoln statue in a blue and white UIS stocking cap and scarf with a snowy UIS campus in the background.  Message: The College of Public Affairs and Administration wishes you a happy holiday season.

    Happy Holidays! A video message from Dean Smith

    Holiday Greetings from Dean Robert Smith

  • Dr. Arwi Srithongrung-Kriz

    Alternative Approaches to State Budget Cuts: What does Budget Theory Suggest?

    Now that Illinois voters rejected the Graduated Income Tax Amendment, the next logical question is how the state will balance its budget for fiscal year 2021 and beyond. While there is room in the state’s borrowing authority with the Federal Reserve under the Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF), a larger concern is that much of this deficit is not due to COVID-19 related revenues and expenditures, but due to a long standing mismatch between state revenues and expenditures, a problem that the graduated income tax proposal was supposed to address. Borrowing this way would get the state through the immediate budgetary challenge, but what happens in FY22 and beyond?

  • Photo of Daralene Jones, PAR Graduate

    PAR Alumni Spotlight: Daralene Jones helps reveal truth of Ocoee Massacre

    For 100 years, the story of the Ocoee Massacre remained largely untold. But thanks to the efforts of Public Affairs Reporting graduate Daralene Jones and her team at WFTV Channel 9 in Orlando, the truth of what happened to Black residents in Ocoee on Election Day 1920 is being revealed to a new generation of people in Florida and beyond.

  • Chart showing that 68% of funds stay in the community when you buy local, compared to 43% when you do not

    Give Local this Holiday: iSPI Holiday Shop

    This giving season, we're celebrating the small businesses who have established their headquarters at Innovate Springfield, in the heart of our community, and who proudly call Springfield their home. Welcome to the iSPI Holiday Shop, a curated selection of Innovate Springfield member-owned products and services.

  • Photo of the UIS Young Lincoln statue wearing a mask

    Seven Tips for Crisis Leadership

    While a time of crisis is daunting for any team, strong leadership is needed to help the organization move forward well and perhaps even find a few positive outcomes.  In this blog, we will examine seven tips for crisis leadership that may help lead toward positive results.

  • Image of discarded disposable face mask on a street

    Gloves, boxes, and masks: Waste visibility, challenges, and opportunities during and post COVID - 19 pandemic

    Garbage is everywhere but is mostly overlooked in our everyday environment. Though as individuals we deal with municipal solid waste every day, waste infrastructure – like black bags, covered bins, enclosed trucks, industrial waste cycles, and publicly inaccessible landfills - keeps the majority of garbage out of sight and mind.  In reality, in Illinois, landfill space is limited (average lifespan = 21 years), and the Covid-19 pandemic is exposing just how essential, complex, and fragile our waste cycle is.

  • Image of downtown Springfield with the Capitol in the background.

    A Customized Approach to Maintain Good Financial Condition for Illinois Local Governments

    During the pandemic, state governments in the U.S. have experienced dramatic declines in revenues.  In addition to the current budget situation, the states face economic uncertainty in future fiscal years about the path of the economic recovery. However, Illinois had already been running structural deficits over several years prior to the outbreak. The combination of that structural deficit and pandemic driven revenue shortfalls have created extreme fiscal stress for the state.   For local governments, one of the main concerns is that the state may cut state aid as a part of its budget balancing strategies.  In this post, we suggest a set of bespoke strategies for Illinois local governments.     

  • Image of the UIS Lincoln Statue with fall leaves in the background.  Message of The College of Public Affairs and Administration wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving.

    Thanksgiving 2020: What It Really Means?

    I don’t think there is any way to sugarcoat the fact that this Thanksgiving may not be the best Thanksgiving of record for many people.

  • 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.