The Public Policy Center (PPC) is an interdisciplinary research center in the Office of the Vice President for Research. We support a large intramural research program and a university-wide research development program, emphasizing, but not limited to, the social sciences. PPC researchers investigate some of the most important problems facing society at the local and national level. We share the resources and expertise of the University of Iowa with policymakers and the public through our engagement activities. Student involvement and training in research is emphasized, as is the development and support of interdisciplinary research across all Colleges.
To provide policymakers and the public with information to make our lives and communities thrive in sustainable ways through academic research.
Four objectives support this mission:
We conduct externally funded, academically rigorous, policy-relevant research..
We share policy-relevant research outcomes and the expertise of UI scholars by engaging with our community, the public, and with policy-makers in Iowa.
We provide opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students on campus through employment and policy-relevant courses and experiences.
We support social science research on campus by providing resources directly to investigators.
Rigorous, engaged research is at the heart of the Public Policy Center. Our policy programs include:
The Crime and Justice Policy Research Program conducts research on the causes and consequences of crime, interpersonal violence, and antisocial behavior. The program also considers the implementation and implications of public policies designed to prevent and control criminal offending.
The Environmental Policy Program considers issues such as water use, pollution and climate change. These challenges are considered from an economic, legal, or policy perspective.
The Health Policy Research Program investigates the effects of policy initiatives and government activities on cost of, access to, and quality of health care systems and their effects on consumers, health care providers, policymakers and businesses across Iowa and the nation.
The Politics and Policy Program conducts research on local, state, national and international government and politics, and how these politics affect the creation of public policy. We also consider whether and to what extent governments “work” and the implications of government design.
The Social and Education Policy Research Program conducts research on education policy, poverty and inequality, housing and regional development, tax policy, and family and child policy.
Transportation & Vehicle Safety Research program works to improve technology design through a better understanding of human behavior. The challenge is to match user needs with the optimal solutions—technological or otherwise.
The PPC was founded in 1988 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, and Human Factors and Vehicle Safety research.
In 2007, Peter Damiano, Professor of Preventive and Community Dentistry, became the Center’s Director. Since then, the PPC has expanded its research programs, emphasizing the strengths of faculty on campus with policy-relevant research interests. The Center’s engagement mission was added in 2008, followed in 2010 by campus-wide research support through the Iowa Social Science Research Center. Research opportunities for students have increased significantly and support for undergraduate education began through the Big Ideas course on policy. Currently, PPC programming reaches more than 700 students per year.