Ford School welcomes PPIA 2023 cohort

June 19, 2023

The 2023 Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Institute (JSI) has welcomed 23 students from 11 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. This year’s cohort will spend seven weeks taking classes, participating in policy activities, receiving professional development tools, and, hopefully, having fun. 

Jonathan Hanson will be teaching statistics, Stephanie Leiser microeconomics, and Alex Ralph writing. Additionally, they will take two policy modules: One on national security with Javed Ali, and another on Poverty & Social Policy with Natasha Pilkauskas

They will have exposure to several of the Ford School’s research centers (YPL, CRJ, STPP, Poverty Solutions, CLOSUP, and EPI). Diplomat-in-Residence Louis Fintor will lead an immigration diplomacy lab. And the U.S. General Accounting Office will lead them through a case study. Other activities include a day in Detroit, a tour of the Big House, and a swing dance retreat. 

The Ford School has hosted the PPIA JSI for over 40 years, one of six universities to offer the program, which is intended to boost students’ communication and quantitative reasoning skills, which are vital to their success in graduate programs.

Welcoming the students, Ford School Dean Celeste Watkins-Hayes told them about her academic journey, from sociology and into public policy. Referring to the ”three-legged stool” of debate, analysis, and advocacy, she spoke about the need to have solid evidence and analysis, and then the ability to advocate for change based on those facts. She said her sociology background gave her insight into how systems become relevant that shape our lives

“I want you to advance how that three-legged stool should be a goal. Here is what the data is telling us. Here is where we should go based on our values. How do we engage with policymakers with that knowledge?,” she challenged them.

Speaking of the power of public policy, she noted that the medical advancements that have been made regarding HIV treatment never would have happened without advocacy and a reduction of the stigma related to the condition. 

Avoid the negativity of the daily news cycle, she said, advising them to stay positive and keep looking at the big picture.