Who We Are
The Public Policy Center (PPC) is an interdisciplinary academic research center in the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) that investigates the most important issues affecting our daily lives. Our research is focused on Iowa and beyond. We also assist researchers across campus with their studies and serve to bring the resources and expertise of the University to policy makers and the public. Learn more about the Center and its mission from Director Peter Damiano.
To provide policymakers and the public with information to make our lives and communities thrive in sustainable ways through academic research.
Three activities are used to fulfill this mission:
- Conduct externally funded academic research
- Stimulate and support interdisciplinary research on campus
- Engage the public by sharing the expertise and resources of the PPC and the University of Iowa
Interdisciplinary collaborative academic research is at the heart of the Public Policy Center. Our current research policy areas are:
- Housing and Land Use
- Human Factors and Vehicle Safety
- Social Science
All PPC faculty have joint appointments in other academic departments across campus. Research is also conducted and supported by an outstanding staff within the PPC and a cadre of graduate and undergraduate students. PPC researchers disseminate their findings through journal articles, books, monographs, and policy briefs. They also interact regularly with state and federal policy makers and provide them with research support, testify before congressional committees, and host or participate in many public events each year.
In 2008, the Forkenbrock Series on Public Policy was established to expand the public engagement activities of the PPC by providing interdisciplinary fora to share information on important policy-related topics with policymakers and the public. The series sponsors lectures and symposia designed to bring together academic researchers, policymakers, and other key stakeholders such as business leaders, students and the public on the most pressing issues of our time. In collaboration with the UI Department of History and Political Science, the Forkenbrock Series sponsors an evening class called “Policy Matters”, that covers a different policy topics, that is open to the public. The Forkenbrock Series is coordinated by our community engagement coordinator, Liz Watson.
The PPC contributes to the educational mission of the University by offering applied research training opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students. There are currently over 40 students employed by the PPC through internships, graduate research assistantships and other employment opportunities to learn while assisting with research and other activities at the Center. The Forkenbrock Series also sponsors a class each spring called “Policy Matters”, that covers a different policy topics with many guest faculty and outside lecturers. The class is crosslisted as a political science and history undergraduate class and is open to the public.
The University of Iowa Public Policy Center (PPC) was founded in 1987 by David Forkenbrock, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, as a freestanding unit in the Office of the Vice President for Research. The PPC's original focus was Transportation Policy research, followed by Health Policy research (1990), and Human Factors and Vehicle Safety research (1996).
In 2007, Professor Peter Damiano assumed the Directorship of the Center. Since then the PPC has updated its mission and expanded its research programs to include Social Science Policy Research (2008), Housing and Land Use Policy Research (2009), and Environmental Policy Research (2010).
In 2008, the PPC expanded its public engagement component with the development of the Forkenbrock Series on Public Policy to provide an interdisciplinary forum to share information on important policy-related topics of the day. This series of speakers and symposia honors the memory of David Forkenbrock and his lifelong interest in informing policymakers through academic research.
In 2010, the Center expanded its mission of stimulating interdisciplinary research on campus by establishing the Iowa Social Science Research Center, which serves as a resource for social science research on the University of Iowa campus.
Research at the PPC is primarily funded by externally supported grants and contracts with government agencies, private foundations and industry. In 2010, faculty and research staff at the PPC received 36 grants and contracts totaling over $22 million.