Annual Report 2021-2022

From the Director

Portrait photo of PPC Director Peter Damiano

It is with pleasure and gratitude that we present the Public Policy Center's Annual Report for academic year 2021-2022. This was another year of significant transformation and achievement resulting from the hard work and ingenuity of the people associated with the PPC.

Significant transformation began with our transition back to campus following the pandemic-related quarantine. The comradery and community resulting from personal interactions are impossible to replace, and yet we continue to learn how to effectively integrate virtual activities into our day-to-day operations. The transformation was strengthened when we moved all PPC operations into our newly renovated Public Policy Research Building at the end of the year. We are extremely grateful to the leadership of the university for supporting this move and the Facilities Management staff and contractors who made it happen. It’s great to have all PPC faculty, staff, and students under the same roof!

Significant achievement in that we continued a very active, externally funded portfolio of research (13 grants totaling $7 million), resulting in 245 publications, presentations, policy briefs, and reports; an increasingly impactful set of student success activities (900 students engaged in research and policy-related education); an enlightening set of speakers and symposia hosted or co-hosted by the PPC, including our Policy Challenges for Iowa and the Nation Series; and substantial support for social science researchers, including the Iowa Social Science Research Center assisting researchers to submit 114 grants. Our DEI activities continued to be cross-cutting through our research and individual reflection, including a discussion series with our colleagues in the OVPR and the State Hygienic Lab.

With P3 funding provided by the Office of the Provost, we built the research and policy education infrastructure for priorities that evolved from the Engagement Work Group associated with the university’s Path Forward Strategic Planning process. This campus-wide initiative identified ways to support faculty and staff and engage more students in Research, Internships and mentoring, Service learning, and civic Engagement activities. In collaboration with the 70+ faculty, staff, and students on our Advisory committee and sub-committees, we successfully met the goals set forth in our P3 funding proposal and are continuing to grow these within the PPC missions – including student and faculty mentoring, faculty-led undergraduate research teams, online badging modules, and community-engaged research. The FY22 P3 report, which includes our ongoing efforts, is available here.

Through all these efforts, our faculty, staff, and students addressed some of the most challenging issues of our times, including health and environmental disparities, social justice, vaccine uptake, and more.

I feel privileged to lead the Center's dedicated staff, students, and faculty, and I’m grateful for the hard work and creativity that leads to our success in generating new knowledge and sharing it with the campus and beyond. On behalf of all of us, thank you for your support, and we look forward to working with you in 2022-2023.


The Public Policy Center (PPC) is an interdisciplinary research center in the central administration (Office of the Vice President for Research) with campus-wide missions of conducting and stimulating research; engaging with policymakers and the public; improving student success; and supporting social scientists across campus. For more than 30 years, the PPC has investigated and shared data and information about the most important issues affecting society. Our activities involve investigators from every college, and our research is of local, state, national, and international scope.

We are proud of the impact that the Public Policy Center had across all four of our missions:

Conduct policy-relevant research

In 2021-22, the PPC maintained 13 active grants and contracts totaling $7 million from federal, state, and foundation sources. The breadth of research topics this year included opioid risks in rural communities, health disparities and social determinants of health, patient-centered dental care, violence prevention and adverse impacts in schools, community mental healthcare, resiliency and vulnerability to COVID in rural communities, and tele-dentistry. The PPC also contracted to evaluate several Iowa education and health programs, including the Personal Responsibility Education Program, Iowa Health and Dental Wellness Plans, and Iowa's Oral Health Workforce Evaluation.

More than 245 journal articles, reports, presentations, proceedings, policy briefs, and blog posts have been published or delivered.

Involve students

The Center provided 154 undergraduate and graduate students, from a wide variety of disciplines, with applied research training experience and opportunities to collaborate with their peers and colleagues. Students worked at the PPC and ISRC as research fellows; participated on research teams across campus via IowaRISE or through the PPC's Summer Policy Research Program; or joined the Summer Policy Research Institute.

We engaged an additional 760+ undergraduate students through classwork. The PPC is proud to host Life Design and Explore Iowa, two courses that help students explore themselves and their communities. Through stories, lectures, assigned readings, guest speakers, and reflective writing, Life Design is organized to help students discover what they are innately drawn to do. Topics include the integration of one's worldview and professional life, practical skills, and exercises for investigating different career paths; cultivating mentors; and examining the relationship between ambition, drive, and success, and the role of happiness in achieving excellence and success.

"I wanted to take a few minutes to thank you for the past two semesters! You are such a kind and compassionate person and I am beyond grateful to have gotten the opportunity to not only meet you, but to learn from and work beside you. I wish I could put into words the impact that you have had in my life…”
- Thank-a-Teacher program, Spring 2022, written to Professor Gould from a Life Design peer mentor

The goal of Explore Iowa is to help students explore a variety of fields, issue areas, and experiences in their community and beyond. We know that experiencing a broad range of issue areas will enhance the collegiate experience, encourage lifelong learning, and spur an interest in civic engagement. We want students to ask the question: How can I change the world?

The PPC collaborates with the GEAR UP program by reserving class sections for these students. We also work with Advising, IVETS, and other units on campus to recruit transfer students, student veterans, first-generation students, and other underrepresented students who may benefit from these courses.

Support interdisciplinary research

Through the Iowa Social Science Research Center (ISRC), the PPC assisted researchers from 15 units across five colleges apply for 114 grants ($25.7 million requested).

The ISRC completed data collection for 21 projects, conducted 7,776 interviews, provided 20 free statistical and survey consultations, and recorded and posted 12 research method workshops.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Runs Through All the Missions at the Public Policy Center

As a unit in the central administration, the Public Policy Center (PPC) strives to be a leader in advancing the university's diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals across all of the missions of the Center. From research to engagement, our activities rely on the inclusive exchange of ideas from diverse perspectives.

Our policy-relevant research projects investigate inequalities that drive many of the most critical issues facing society. Examples of these studies conducted and/or published in the past year by our faculty and staff researchers include evaluating disparities in access to healthcare, health issues among incarcerated Black men, other social determinants of health and aging, environmental disparities, radical misogyny, diversity on college campuses, anti-racism in dental public health, the STEM gender gap, and more.

Many of our student success activities, including the development of the IowaRISE Initiative, have been aimed at improving access to high impact, policy-relevant experiences for students that have often been less likely to receive these services. Again this year, 250 students in the GEAR UP program for first-generation students enrolled in our Life Design class to assist with their career and life discernment.

During 2022, we sponsored events and conversations exploring issues of equity and racial justice such as racial health disparities in the U.S. and education policies for heritage Spanish speakers.

We continued our partnerships with those in our community doing parallel work toward a more equitable society, including the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council, CommUnity (formerly Crisis Center of Johnson County), the League of Women Voters, and many others.

PPC faculty and staff participated in, and helped lead, the OVPR’s DEI Reading Group – a five month long series surveying a variety of topics. We spent two months exploring "Me and White Supremacy", Layla Saad’s book about white people’s role in racism; we discussed when the Iowa legislature was debating banning transgender youth from sport, reading articles and opinions from both sides of the issue; we listened to a podcast and discussed how generational differences contribute to diversity in the workplace; and more. We look forward to contributing to this group in 2023.

We know there is more to do. The PPC is committed to continuing and expanding our DEI-related work and activities, both internal to the center and beyond our borders. We welcome your suggestions for areas in which we can improve.

Public Policy Research Building Opens on East Side of Campus

University President Barbara Wilson, Public Policy Center Director Peter Damiano, and Vice President for Research Marty Scholtz stand in front of the newly opened Public Policy Research Building

The Public Policy Center moved to the newly renovated Public Policy Research Building (PPRB) this summer. The east campus location, formerly Pediatric Associates, is located at 605 E. Jefferson St., just southeast of Mercy Hospital.

The PPRB houses all units of the PPC, including the Iowa Social Science Research Center (ISRC), in one space. PPC Director Pete Damiano believes that being together in the new location will add to the vitality of the PPC’s missions and goals to further develop research and engagement activities.

A terrific team of people from UI Facilities Management, along with external contractors, converted the building into the Public Policy Research Building. The PPRB boasts 26 private offices, several swing spaces, two break rooms, a conference room, and a larger meeting/classroom style space. Additionally, the building features a student lab with open workstations for undergraduate and graduate students, and a call center and transcription room for the ISRC’s surveying processes.

The upstairs conference room, the David and Dorie Forkenbrock Conference Room, is dedicated to David J. Forkenbrock, founder of the PPC, and Dorie, his wife, who remains a strong supporter of the missions and activities of the Center.

The east side location of PPRB allows for better collaboration with faculty and students on this side of campus, especially with those in policy-relevant social science disciplines. The walkability of the new location is significantly improved, with downtown Iowa City accessible in five minutes on foot. An onsite parking lot provides permit space for PPRB residents and metered spaces for visitors, which aims to encourage more in-person collaboration at the Center.

To commemorate the new building, the PPC hosted an Open House on Tuesday, Oct. 4, with remarks from UI President Barbara Wilson and the official dedication of the David and Dorie Forkenbrock Conference Room.


The Public Policy Center is home to more than 100 faculty and staff—including those who are full-time at the PPC and those with secondary appointments. PPC investigators work across six research programs in various disciplines:

We directly support interdisciplinary, social science research on campus through the Iowa Social Science Research Center, which provides grant development support; data collection and management services; survey development and statistical software consulting; and other related services.

Our researchers collaborate with and are supported by federal, state, and local agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Justice. Johnson County and the state of Iowa benefit from research conducted with and through the Abbe Center for Community Mental Health, Delta Dental of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the Iowa Departments of Public Health and Human Services, among others. Our research monographs also receive significant national and international attention through our website and through Iowa Research Online. Iowa Research Online is managed by the UI Libraries and features nearly 2,000 PPC reports, papers, and conference presentations that were downloaded and/or viewed more than 7,300 times in the past year.

Crime and Justice Policy Research

Statue of Lady Justice, blindfolded and holding balance scales

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 offending and victimization.

Mark T. Berg, professor of sociology, directs the program.

Study Links Incarceration to Accelerated Aging in African Americans

A man in handcuffs holds his head in his hands

Mark Berg, director and senior research fellow, and Ethan Rogers, postdoctoral fellow, determined in a study that African Americans who spend time in jail or prison exhibit signs of accelerated aging. The study was in collaboration with Man-Kit Lei and Ronald Simons from the University of Georgia.

Surveying 410 African American adults, the data showed that those who had been formerly incarcerated were nearly a year older biologically than their actual age, and direct experiences with violence during incarceration exacerbated this effect. These findings suggested that incarceration possibly triggers a stress response that affects a biological signature of physiological deterioration.

The study, “Losing Years Doing Time: Incarceration Exposure and Accelerated Biological Aging Among African American Adults,” was published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, as both an article and a policy brief. Berg was featured on the Sage Journals podcast, “Sociology,” and Berg and Rogers joined Ben Kieffer on Iowa Public Radio’s “River to River” to discuss the study. The findings were also reported in articles by IowaNow and the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

View Crime and Justice Policy Publications

Environmental Policy Research

River and a green bluff

The Environmental Policy Research Program investigates issues such as water quality and use and climate change adaptation and mitigation. These challenges are considered holistically from multiple perspectives, including economic, legal, and/or policy, anchored by a science-based approach.

David Cwiertny, William D. Ashton professor of civil and environmental engineering, directs the program.

Cwiertny Urges Awareness of Rising “Forever Chemicals” in Iowa Drinking Water

Water is put into a beaker

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) began testing public drinking water systems across Iowa for levels of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Also referred to as “forever chemicals,” PFAS are human-made toxic chemicals that are linked to several health issues ranging from higher risks of testicular and kidney cancer to preeclampsia in pregnant people.

David Cwiertny, director and senior research fellow, has advocated the importance of this testing for the safety of people in Iowa. Because community right to know is a foundational hallmark of environmental justice, he emphasizes that communities should be made aware of the chemical levels in their drinking water, for example, if they are near industrial sites using hazardous chemicals.

In an Iowa Public Radio news article, Cwiertny explained that private wells, in particular, are at a risk of higher levels of PFAS, since private systems are unregulated and not held to the same safety requirements as public systems. With about 10% of Iowans getting their water from private wells, he suggested that the state be more proactive about measuring contamination levels and mitigating unnecessary exposure.

Cwiertny’s urgency to combat the rising levels of PFAS in Iowa water was validated when the Environmental Protection Agency reduced the safety threshold of the two most prominent PFAS from 70 parts per trillion to .004 parts per trillion and .02 parts per trillion. He said in a news article by The Gazette that this was a strong statement from the EPA, confirming the danger of this class of chemicals. As more data is revealed, he said there may not be any level of exposure that is safe.

More testing by the Iowa DNR is planned for the coming months, and in the meantime, temporary advisories have been put in place that will guide federal regulators to treat PFAS like other regulated cancer-causing chemicals, such as benzene and tetrachloride, Cwiertny said.

View Environmental Policy Publications

Health Policy Research

Stethoscope wrapped around an apple

The Health Policy Research Program investigates the effects of policy initiatives and government activities on the cost of, access to, and quality of healthcare systems and their effects on consumers, healthcare providers, policymakers, and businesses across Iowa and the nation.

Peter Damiano, Bernstein professor of preventive and community dentistry, directs the program.

Askelson’s Team Examines Vaccination Trends for COVID-19 and HPV

A person holds up their sleeve to receive a vaccination shot

Natoshia Askelson, senior research fellow in the Health Policy Research Program, lead a project to examine COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy in less densely populated areas of Iowa and to promote community confidence in the vaccine.

The project involved three phases: collecting data to understand who is not getting vaccinated and why; pilot testing interventions and strategies that have shown to be effective; and disseminating successful interventions and strategies across the state.

A survey conducted by Askelson and her team revealed that only half of parents were in favor of having their adolescents vaccinated against COVID-19, emphasizing how effective communication about the benefits and safety of the vaccine is extremely important.

Findings from additional demographic groups also revealed vaccine hesitancy. Askelson co-authored a study examining parents of children aged six months to four years, finding that only a minority are eager to vaccinate their children. The results showed a widespread concern about vaccination, indicating that increased parental confidence in COVID-19 vaccination may be needed.

In addition to COVID-19 vaccination, Askelson also examined trends in human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations for adolescents in Iowa. After the pandemic, HPV vaccination rates for adolescents noticeably declined, and she urged the public in an interview with KGAN TV to get their kids back on track for the vaccine.

Another study co-authored by Askelson and Sato Ashida, senior faculty affiliate, investigated missed opportunities for HPV immunization among privately insured adolescents in the state of Iowa. The results were broken down by gender and rurality among adolescents aged 11 to 13 and showed that over half of adolescents failed to initiate vaccination by the age of 13. These results, along with other data, indicate that missed opportunities are a widespread problem that may not be limited to adolescents.

View Health Policy Publications

Politics and Policy Research

Flags of many nations

The Politics and Policy Research 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.

Julianna Pacheco, associate professor of political science, directs the program.

Tolbert Receives Harvard University Goldsmith Book Prize

Caroline Tolbert

Caroline Tolbert, distinguished research fellow, received the 2022 Goldsmith Book Prize in Academics for her book, “Choosing the Future: Technology and Opportunity in Communities.” The book examines internet disparities across communities in the United States and argues that broadband internet use is a form of digital human capital used to benefit specific communities.

This publication is the fourth book in Tolbert and co-author Karen Mossberger’s series on internet access and inequality, focusing on the correlation between access and economic prosperity. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted these disparities and garnered timely awareness on the issue, as employees and students everywhere were forced to rely on broadband to operate.

Despite being a relatively new area, technology policy is pervasive, and Tolbert emphasizes that policymakers and elected officials should not underestimate its importance.

“I don’t know if people in the beginning understood how crippling it could be if a household or a community was offline,” she said in an article by The Daily Iowan. “Technology is part of many networks of policies that should really be considered to modernize and update this country to create the type of opportunity that citizens deserve.”

View Politics and Policy Publications

Social and Education Policy Research

Young students huddled around a laptop

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.

David Frisvold, associate professor of economics, directs the program.

Anthony Receives Fulbright Scholar Award in India to Study Sustainable Urbanism

Jerry Anthony

Jerry Anthony, senior research fellow, was awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award in India for the 2022-2023 academic year. He will spend the spring and summer semesters in India researching sustainable urbanism as a Fulbright-Kalam Climate Studies Scholar with the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur, India’s premier higher education institute.

Anthony’s work will explore cities that have adopted urban development policies to reduce city-scale carbon footprints, decrease dependence on non-renewable resources, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. He will also deliver lectures at several Indian universities on the links between climate change and urbanism.

Anthony is one of more than 800 U.S. scholars that will travel abroad this year for research and other projects through the Fulbright Scholar Program. The program is a prestigious and competitive fellowship with the goal of supporting research opportunities and forming long-term ties between people and places. He looks forward to deepening collaborations with researchers in India and connecting them with colleagues on campus.

View Social and Education Policy Publications

Transportation and Vehicle Safety Policy Research

Cars driving on a multi-lane highway

The Transportation and 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.

Daniel McGehee, associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, occupational health and emergency medicine, directs the program.

"ADS for Rural America" Project Progresses Testing Phases

A tractor pulls a trailer on a rural highway

The University of Iowa’s National Advanced Driving Simulator’s (NADS) project, “Automated Driving Systems (ADS) for Rural America,” completed phase two of its testing this year on a Ford Transit automated shuttle bus. Dan McGehee, director, and Cher Carney, research specialist, are part of the large team that conducts the research and testing for the project.

ADS for Rural America is a project centered on improving equity and safety of roadways through vehicle automation, representing the unique challenges of rural roadways, such as unpaved roads without markings, and broadening the mobility of individuals in rural areas. A major goal of the project is to connect people in these areas to services they need by providing transportation to those who can’t access it, due to disability or lack of public transportation.

The project, like other projects at NADS, was developed with policy at the forefront of design. It is unique that it focuses on rural America, as this sort of experimentation in automation has mostly focused on urban parts of the country in the past. Additionally, ADS for Rural Safety is the first of its kind to share automated driving data with the public to provide maximum transparency, unlike other highly proprietary automated companies like Google or Tesla.

This $7 million project is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and will continue for at least another two years.

View Tranportation and Vehicle Safety Publications

Iowa Social Science Research Center

Three ISRC student employees conduct a door-to-door survey

The Iowa Social Science Research Center (ISRC) is a resource for interdisciplinary social science research. It provides grant development support and data collection, management, and access services to the university community and beyond.

Fred Boehmke, professor and Marvin and Rose Lee Pomerantz Chair of political science, directs the ISRC.

Grant support team helps submit more than 100 grants; grows grant writing program

The Iowa Social Science Research Center (ISRC) grant development team, led by Kris Ackerson, submitted 114 grants during 2022 for Iowa researchers across five colleges. The total submission amount was more than $25 million. Since 2018, the number of grants submitted by the ISRC has increased by 257%.

The grants team can help identify funding sources; develop, review, and edit proposals; communicate with funding agency officers and staff; and coordinate with offices on campus. Additionally, they kicked off a grant writing program inviting researchers to participate in grant writing sessions with other grant writers and support staff. The program has grown over the years, and the weekly format provides dedicated time for writing, peer-to-peer feedback, and immediate support from the grant development team members.

Researchers interested in the services provided by the ISRC, or the grant development team, specifically, can visit the ISRC webpage for more information. Or, reach out to

Student Success

Joe Palca speaks with graduate students

During academic year 2021-2022, the PPC employed 79 students in research, data collection, and administrative support. Many of our undergraduate students were trained by the ISRC in social science research activities, including data collection methodology and human subjects training, and others worked on PPC faculty-led projects as graduate and undergraduate Research Assistants. More than 30 students participated in the Summer Policy Research Institute, and 18 undergraduate students – many from groups underrepresented in the sciences – joined faculty-led research teams on diverse projects, including the Flint, Michigan water crisis, natural disaster preparedness in Iowa communities, sexual assault prevention, and civil war peace negotiations.

Summer Policy Research Program

Students with masks working together

The Public Policy Center (PPC) enrolled 18 undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in policy research in the Summer Policy Research Institute this year.

As part of the PPC’s Student Success mission, the Institute offers two tracks to enhance the research experience for students currently working with a faculty member on a project or to foster a new research venture by working with a cohort of other students and mentors.

A new addition this year was the launch of PPC online learning modules, or “badges.” Upon completing learning objectives, students earn a digital badge, which is a micro-credential they can use to show off their accomplishment. The badging modules, completed by the students in both tracks, deliver a blended learning approach and are designed to engage students of all experience levels inside and outside of the classroom. They allow users to visually track their progress by completing coursework partially online and preparing them for what’s to be covered in the following discussion section.

The first module was released in September 2021, and since then, over 100 badges have been awarded across four modules – Survey Research, Research Basics, Research Methods, and Pre-Mentoring – with several more in the works.

This year’s program also featured guest speakers that expanded the students’ exposure to research.

Louise Seamster, assistant professor of sociology and criminology, talked with the group about her research projects and the opportunities she provides for undergraduate and graduate students, specifically. Her presentation featured several of her current and former students’ experience on the years-long project investigating the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Additionally, Carrie Schuettpelz, PPC senior fellow of practice and associate professor of practice in the School of Planning and Public Affairs, lead a session in Week 4 on how to write a policy memo.

Christopher Kromphardt, education support services manager, spearheads the program and takes pride in the fact that the Institute is a great reflection of the PPC and its missions. As an interdisciplinary center with dozens of fellows and affiliates across campus, the Institute is positioned well to help students achieve their research goals, and, “it emphasizes the malleability of the term ‘public policy’ that people are attracted to,” Kromphardt said.

Mentoring Course for Criminology Students

When John Zielke, fellow of practice and former Chief U.S. Probation Officer for the Northern District of Iowa, started teaching at Iowa in 2019, he immediately noticed that many of his criminology students were uncertain about their career choices and were eager to talk about potential careers. Simultaneously, he knew that his agency, among many others in the field, had been experiencing a shortage of high-quality job applicants and poor retention rates. In Spring 2021, as part of the IowaRISE initiative, John created a course that had the potential to combat both problems – Criminology Mentoring.

The Criminology Mentoring course helps students explore the many career opportunities available – from police detective to prosecutor to probation officer. To facilitate this exploration, John invites guest speakers from various fields to class; has students complete a career assessment; meets with students one-on-one to discuss their individual interests and strengths; and coordinates on-site visits to various agencies. Through AY2022, John has mentored 64 students through this course, with 70+ additional enrollees planned for AY2023.

“Never before had I experienced a class that had so much first-hand information available. We were provided with a multitude of guest speakers…It was great to have the opportunity to get to ask so many questions of professionals in a variety of different occupations. I highly recommend this class to anyone unsure of what they are looking to do in the future.”
- Jaxson Konzen, student
“This class and similar learning opportunities connect law enforcement leaders with students and provide an in-person environment that facilitates exposure to many public safety careers. The competition for young talent and qualified applicants is increasing across disciplines which makes mentoring classes all the more important and hopefully inspires students to pursue the law enforcement path that best suits their character and career goals.”
- Brad Kunkel, Johnson County Sheriff
Portrait photo of PPC Director Peter Damiano


The PPC, in collaboration with more than 70 members of the university community, continued to develop the IowaRISE program – an initiative to provide more high-impact learning experiences to students. RISE stands for Research, Internships and mentoring, Service learning, and civic Engagement. During academic year 2021-2022, the IowaRISE initiative met all of its goals for the year as outlined in the P3 funding application, including these highlights:

  • The Summer Policy Research Institute engaged 31 students during summer 2021. The Institute introduces students to academic research through a mentored, team-based experience.
  • Supported six faculty-led research teams that included 41 undergraduate and graduate research assistants.
  • Completed three learning modules; these modules help launch students into other research and engagement activities by providing them the foundational knowledge about activities they may pursue – like a service-learning course/project, a job in a research lab, or an internship.
  • Enrolled 50 students in the Criminology Mentoring program.
  • More than 600 undergraduate students participated in PPC courses, Life Design, Life Design II, and Explore Iowa.

During FY21/22, IowaRISE was supported by funding from the P3 UI Strategic Initiatives Fund. Although P3 funding ended in FY22, the PPC – and others on campus – will continue to support many of these initiatives.


In fulfilling our Community Engagement mission, the PPC hosted four Forkenbrock Series events and co-hosted 28 events with university and community partners during 2021 – 2022.

The Forkenbrock series showcases some of our signature events, features guest speakers and symposiums, and provides a forum for dialogue about policy areas from applied, academic, and interdisciplinary perspectives. The series was commenced in honor of David Forkenbrock, who established the PPC at the University of Iowa in 1987.

Policy Challenges for Iowa and the Nation

People look at papers in front of them on a table with microphones in front of them

The PPC launched a discussion series titled, “Policy Challenges for Iowa and the Nation,” tackling urgent issues on a local and national scale. The intent of this series is to provide the campus, community, and state with a balanced exploration of important policy-impacting topics from a variety of perspectives.

In Fall 2021, the PPC hosted “Free Speech and Social Media,” featuring a panel of experts representing political, journalistic, and social media perspectives on the regulation of free speech. “The Future of the Democratic Party” and “The Future of the Republican Party” presented views on the premises and challenges of each party for the upcoming elections. In Spring 2022, “The Role of Consultants in Political Discourse” examined the role political consultants have in campaigns through presentations from a bipartisan panel of consultants in Iowa and on a national level.

The series, in collaboration with the Iowa Board of Regents and the College of Law, will continue through academic year 2022-23 with prospective events such as “Free Speech and Art” and “The Future of K-12 Education.”