Fred Boehmke, director of the Iowa Social Science Research Center and professor of political science, received a grant from the National Science Foundation. The $420,000 grant will fund two years of research at the University of Iowa and three other universities – Penn State, Notre Dame and the University of Massachusetts.
Public policy scholars and practitioners of politics often look to the states for innovative policies that can be emulated by other governments across the country, a process referred to as policy diffusion. Through the research supported by the grant, Boehmke will produce a database on the adoption of hundreds of policies of American states, at least tripling the size of the largest database currently available and yielding a more representative sample of policies. Boehmke and his collaborators also hope to improve upon existing methods for inferring network ties in ways that are most suitable for policy diffusion research and implement it in a user-friendly package. They will build an interactive online portal to the data, complete with visualizations and automated analytics so that policymakers and other interested stakeholders can access a comprehensive look at the spread of innovation among state governments regarding financial, environmental, health, security and other social problem domains.