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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 13, 2010

New public policy fora begin Jan. 27

The University of Iowa Public Policy Center is joining with the UI Department of History in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) to offer a new series of public fora featuring nationally recognized experts to share their perspectives on pressing domestic policy issues. Topics will include health care, poverty, energy and economic development, among others.

The fora begin Jan. 27 and take place every Wednesday from 6:30-8:20 p.m. in Shambaugh Auditorium at the UI Main Library. Weekly sessions are free and open to the public.

At each session UI experts will provide a background introduction to the topic of the week. This will be followed by a discussion involving policy practitioners, legislators and advocates. Panelists will also take questions from the audience.

gordon"This is a real opportunity, especially in these troubling political and economic times, for the university to share its diverse policy expertise with undergraduates and with the citizens of Iowa," said Colin Gordon, professor of history and departmental executive officer for the Department of History in CLAS.

The sessions will also be offered to students for credit. Policy Matters is cross-listed by Political Science (course number 30:129) and History (course number 16:115). Course resources such as PowerPoint presentations and audiocasts will be available on the Public Policy Center Web site following each session.

damiano"Exposing students to a variety of perspectives on the most important issues of our day we hope will assist them in their intellectual development while making them better informed citizens," said Pete Damiano, director of the UI Public Policy Center. "Sharing the expertise of university faculty and staff with the community is an important part of our Center's mission and opening this domestic policy class to the public fits our goals perfectly."

For the first forum on Jan. 27, Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., will give an overview of the current economic crisis, "The Great Recession: How We Got Here and How We Get Out."  Baker, frequently cited in economics reporting by major media outlets, has written several books, his latest being "Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy."

The topics and dates for the remaining fora are:

--Feb. 3: Colin Gordon of the UI Department of History will explore the historical background of the heath care reform debate, the options now being considered by Congress and the implications for providers and ordinary Iowans.

--Feb. 10: Kevin Leicht of the UI Department of Sociology along with Lily French of the Iowa Policy Project will give an overview of poverty in the United States and perspectives on national, state and local policies.

--Feb. 17: Session chair Fred Kirschenmann of the Leopold Center at Iowa State University will lead a discussion on sustainable agriculture practices and policies.

--Feb. 24: Panelists from the Iowa Policy Project and the Iowa Department of Economic Development will survey patterns of American energy use and policy and focus on the development of wind power in Iowa as a case study of energy policy and politics.

--March 3:  A panel of experts from the UI College of Engineering and Iowa Geological Survey will examine the challenges of uneven distribution of water nationally and globally and the substantial cost and complexity of managing water as it is consumed and disposed of by urban, agricultural, and industrial users.

--March 10: Faculty from the UI Urban Planning Department will examine the range and challenges of urban and regional planning, regulation of multiple modes of transit and sustainable consumption of precious resources.

--March 24: This panel, led by Mark Grey of the University of Northern Iowa Department of Sociology, will consider immigration politics and policy from a global and Iowa perspective.

--March 31: Carolyn Tolbert, UI professor of political science, will give an overview of the promise and potential of new media in contrast to the digital divide between those with ready access to such resources and those without.  A panel of communication staffers from the Iowa Democratic and Republican parties will also discuss these issues.

--April 7: Jerry Anthony, UI associate professor of urban and regional planning, will lead a panel of state and local housing advocates and officials who will discuss how local zoning, the regulation of credit markets, the management of tax-based incentives, and the provision of public subsidies can help to ensure the supply, affordability, and quality of the nation's housing stock.

-April 14: Greg LeRoy of Good Jobs First, a leading authority on economic development policies, leads a discussion of the ways in which public money should (and shouldn't) be used to lure or subsidize private investment.  LeRoy will join a panel of state and local officials in considering the promise-and pitfalls-of Iowa's economic development policies.

--April 21: Peter Fisher of the Iowa Policy Project and Ed Wallace of the Iowa Taxpayer's Association will lead this session presenting two distinct perspectives on the tax system.

--April 28: Shelton Stromquist of the UI Department of History will provide an historical survey of American labor policies, followed by a panel representing local and state perspectives on the American workplace.

For a complete schedule and more information about the Policy Matter series see

MEDIA CONTACTS: Pete Damiano, Public Policy Center, 319-335-6800; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012,