Spring 2021 Edition


“Cultural Diversity in STEM”
Arsene Frederic Jr., MPA
pp. 8-16 | Published: April 2021

The United States’ inability to achieve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce diversity goals has long been attributed to the failure of the academic “pipeline” to maintain a steady flow of underrepresented minority (URM) students (Estrada et al., 2016). These gains require a strategic effort to expand the labor force—increasing the number of well-educated and highly skilled STEM-capable professionals to maintain the pace of producing meaningful technological breakthroughs (Espinosa et al., 2019). Research suggests that the way that campuses deal with diversity can influence Students of Color’s success and persistence (Harper & Yeung, 2013; Hurtado et al., 1998b). Notably, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have been evidenced to play a crucial role in helping to diversify STEM disciplines (Perna et al., 2009). Using the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2012/17 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS:12/17), I used the data lab software to conduct a frequency analysis. Further, this study examines gender among students majoring in STEM at HBCUs and aims to answer the following question: How strong is the association between Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Black students pursuing STEM degrees? In this analysis, I examined the percentage of students with a focus on STEM fields as a major field of study for the following variables: race/ethnicity, gender, and Historically Black Colleges/Universities. The wealth of research on African American college students’ experiences primarily focuses on Black female students, since there are twice as many in comparison to male students. Current research is more reflective of female Black college students’ experiences than Black male students. Consequently, this analysis showcases there is a strong association among Black women but a weak association among Black men.

“Defining Whiteness in Criminology”
Benjamin Cohn, MS in Justice, Law and Criminology
pp. 17-25 | Published: April 2021

This paper attempts to provide an overview of whiteness in America, why it is important, how it has developed, how it is studied, and the many roles it plays. In a society structured on racial caste, whiteness is used, enjoyed, and valorized as treasured property. White supremacy has shaped society in the United States specifically from slavery, through the Black Codes, Jim Crow Laws, and the rise of the modern prison system that continues to produce new relations of racial domination. This paper provides a meta-analysis of 50 articles published in the last decade that deal with whiteness and policing on topics including immigration detention, the professional culture within criminal justice, police and community relations, hate crimes, and numerous other topics. While all of the articles contain whiteness in their subject, this paper analyzes if whiteness is explicitly discussed, if it is conceptualized or defined in the article itself, and if the definition is critical. Ideally, until there is a standard definition of whiteness that is accepted and agreed upon, every criminological article that addresses whiteness would do so explicitly and include a critical conceptualization so that readers do not need a background in critical race theory. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

“Using Immigration to Define Americans as White and White as American”
Benjamin Cohn, MS in Justice, Law and Criminology
pp. 26-30 | Published: April 2021

This paper overviews the intentional, explicit, and harsh U.S. immigration policy and the ways that it, directly and indirectly, has defined American and white as synonymous. There is a brief literature review followed by an argument that whiteness has actually required the immigration discourse to uphold and perpetuate racist ideas and enlist average white citizens. This process happens at the systemic level, in terms of national policy, laws, and private industry, and at the individual level as individuals become deputized to uphold whiteness through the lens of who is allowed in America.

“The Silenced Voices of People Who are Currently and Formerly Incarcerated”
Chelsea Thomson, MPP
pp. 31-38 | Published: April 2021

A historic and record-breaking number of Americans voted in the 2020 election, reflecting the electorate’s desire to have their voices heard and prioritize the issues most important to them and their communities. However, multiple states silenced 5.2 million voices due to their current or prior interactions with the criminal legal system. All but two states, Maine and Vermont, as well as Washington, DC and Puerto Rico, in some way restrict people with a felony conviction from voting while in prison, on parole or probation, or post-sentence. These voices being silenced are disproportionately Black and brown, as a result of the overcriminalization of these communities. The arguments supporting felony disenfranchisement are contrary to the ideals of a democratic society and are steeped in racism and discrimination. Restricting the right to vote is not only undemocratic but also counter to the research and benefits: Research has found that many opportunities come to communities and individuals when the right to vote is available. Some states are incrementally revising legislation to restore this right. Florida’s recent policy changes provide insight into the impacts of felony disenfranchisement and the sustained activities to limit Black and brown communities’ voices and power.

“Whose America? A Reflective Opinion”
Christ-Shamma Matalbert, MS in Justice, Law and Criminology
pp. 39-40 | Published: April 2021

The answer to “Whose America?” should be straightforward, yet I’m perplexed why such complexity is ingrained in a seemingly easy answer. We as a nation pretend not to know who America belongs to when, in actuality, we’re simply in denial that America belongs to the rich, white and privileged.

“Turning Off the Faucet: The Role of Schools in the School-to-Prison Pipeline”
Emma Hall, MPA
pp. 41-46 | Published: April 2021

The School-to-Prison Pipeline refers to “policies and practices, especially with respect to school discipline, in the public schools and juvenile justice system that decrease the probability of school success for children and youth, and increase the probability of negative life outcomes, particularly through involvement in the juvenile justice system” (Skiba, Arredondo, et al., 2014, p. 546). In particular, the School-to-Prison Pipeline often involves exclusionary discipline practices that lead to both negative short- and long-term student outcomes. This paper will explore the role that schools play in the School-to-Prison Pipeline system (hereafter STPP). It will investigate the relationships between the STPP and school quality, exclusionary disciplinary practices, and other school risk factors that may exacerbate negative outcomes. Ultimately, identifying how schools function as the source of the STPP will elucidate the interventions that schools can take to turn off the metaphorical faucet by enacting policies and practices that best prepare students for success both in and out of school.

“Economic Dynamism Across the Rural-Urban Divide: A County-level Spatial Analysis”
Finn Dobkin, MPP
pp. 47-56 | Published: April 2021

As the United States recovered from the Great Recession, nonmetropolitan counties have failed to recover as the national economy continues to grow. Simultaneously, quality-of-life in these counties deteriorated as economic opportunities atrophied. This study aims to understand how rurality impacts county-level declines in economic growth. Specifically, it examines how the percentage of a population occupying nonmetropolitan space and a county’s proximity to metropolitan areas impact absolute mobility, growth elasticity of poverty, and growth semi-elasticity of poverty. The results show that the percentage of a county that occupies a rural area is the most reliable geographic determinant of the economic strength of a county—although proximity to a metropolitan county also plays a significant role in the economy. Based on these conclusions, policymakers should tailor economic development plans to increase the productive capacity of these nonmetropolitan counties.

“Germany’s Health Care System: A Suitable Option for a Measured U.S. Health Reform”
Mary Gens, MPP
pp. 57-68 | Published: April 2021

In 2019, the United States spent 17% of its GDP on health care. This is over 8 percentage points higher than the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average (Tikkanen & Abrams, 2020). Indeed, the U.S. spends 26% of its national budget on health care (McGraw, Lecture 5.1, 2020). Despite this enormous cost, the US has some of the poorest health outcomes amongst comparable countries. For example, the U.S.’s life expectancy is the lowest of comparable OECD countries at 78.6 years (Tikkanen & Abrams, 2020).

It thus comes as no surprise that Americans are pushing for health care reform. Medicare-for-All, in particular, has become popular and is based on single-payer health care systems such as in the UK and Canada. However, there are many different actors in the public policy process that influence health reform; no one actor makes the decisions in American politics. Therefore, to increase the chance of health reform success, diversifying policy options is necessary. Indeed, there are other nations, such as Germany, that utilize successful health care systems, but are often overlooked in the U.S. reform discussion. Analyzing Germany’s health care system may prove useful to U.S. policymakers, as it is a multi-payer system that is based on principles that the U.S. tends to value culturally, such as private industry, competition, and consumer choice. This fact may make such a reform option more politically feasible in the U.S. than a single-payer system. Specific policies that suit the U.S. economically should be considered for implementation. In order to be relatively politically feasible, this implementation process should begin with a non-profit administered public option.

“Climate Change in Vulnerable Communities: U.S. Mitigation Policy and Environmental Justice”
Ryan Fisher, MPP
pp. 69-83 | Published: April 2021

Climate change has already damaged environments, ecosystems, and communities around the world, and without bold policy responses, these impacts are projected to intensify throughout the twenty-first century. In the United States, climate change disproportionately harms the nation’s most vulnerable communities: low-income Americans and communities of color who lack the resources to respond to the degradation of their environments, health, communities, and economies. As the U.S. considers policies to mitigate climate change, policymakers must craft solutions to alleviate the inequitable distribution of costs from carbon pollution and incentivize the early retirement of carbon-emitting infrastructure.

“U.S. Silence on India’s Undemocratic Farming Bills”
Sahiba Kaur, MA in Political Science
pp. 84-87 | Published: April 2021

250 million farmers and activists are protesting throughout India against three farming bills recently passed through an ordinance by Prime Minister Modi and his government. In short, the farming bills deregulate agriculture, paving the way for the private sector to exploit and monopolize agricultural commodities. Indian farmers are outraged by the passing of these laws, claiming it will ruin their livelihoods and increase their already existing debt.

Many first-world leaders and economists have publicly condemned these laws as well as the unjust treatment of protesters. Yet, the most formidable democracy and the world’s largest superpower, the United States is silent in condemning these undemocratic laws and is yet to speak out against the inhuman treatment of the protesters by the Indian government. The United States has failed to claim its title as the protector of life, liberty, and the right to protest that it so proudly hails. Below is an analysis of the strategic relationship between the U.S. and India in order to explain America’s silence.

“Fighting the War on Drugs: How Presidential Administrations Produce Distinct Policing Regimes”
Samuel Murray, MA in Political Science
pp. 88-98 | Published: April 2021

Engaged in a war on drugs, the United States government embarked on a gradually escalating offensive against individual consumers, distributors, and manufacturers of illicit substances well before President Nixon’s famous national declaration of a “war on drugs.” Anti-drug sentiments represent a shift in societal attitudes, not the sudden emergence of a drug epidemic. In the 1800s, the United States had few regulations on the distribution of narcotics or other drugs, and the legality of opium, cocaine, and marijuana existed through the early 20th century (Recio, 2002, p. 22; Hasegawa, 2000, p. 68). The heightened attention to the drug “problem” in America is new, largely derived from Nixon’s war on drugs declaration and the subsequently enacted policy changes.

This critical case analysis argues that presidential politics, rhetoric, and legislative strategies directly shape the type of policing regimes present during each distinct era of governance under the Nixon, Reagan, and Obama, and Trump administrations. Policing regimes are defined in this paper as: the administrative priority and resource allocation towards the role of law enforcement or social services for alleviating a societal problem. This definition has been originally developed in this paper, as well as the subsequent characterization of the distinct regime typology. As these strategies vary from administration and party, distinct policing regimes form as a result.

“Does A Rising Tide Lift All Boats? Examining BIDs and BID Partnerships in Downtown Baltimore”
Sandra Mansour, MPP
pp. 99-107 | Published: April 2021

This paper examines the economic development of downtown Baltimore in recent decades, specifically through the creation of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and BID developments. Although Baltimore has invested millions of dollars into transforming its downtown district, is this economic transformation benefiting everyone in the city equally, particularly through job creation and job accessibility? Examining Baltimore’s management district (the Downtown Partnership), its BID (the Downtown Management Authority), and their partner organizations reveals that economic growth and job opportunities need to be more equally distributed throughout Baltimore, especially in terms of matching local residents to employment. This research draws on William Julius Wilson’s social isolation theory of poverty and Susanna Schaller’s neoliberal interpretation of BIDs and offers recommendations on how to make BIDs a more equitable urban renewal strategy.

“Unseen: A Perspective on How Black Women are Left Out of America’s Social and Political Movements”
Sydney K. Lang, MS in Justice, Law and Criminology
pp. 108-111 | Published: April 2021

The year 2020 saw a monumental call for change in America. Who was at the heart of it all? Black women. They have been praised for their contributions to politics and have advocated fervently for social change, yet they will likely see little to none of the rewards of that change. This perspective analyzes two spaces: Politics (through the Democratic Party) and social justice movements (Feminism and the Black Lives Matter movements). Literature has shown that Black women are statistically more likely to identify as feminists, participate in elections, and advocate for policy to better the community rather than the individual. To properly understand why Black women’s integral roles in these organizations go unnoticed, it is imperative to draw attention to the lack of intersectionality present in social activism and politics and the misogynoir that harms Black women and girls in our communities. Also, the idea of media representations of Black women reflecting how America interacts with Black women as members and leaders of these communities must be explored. Often Black women are reduced to tropes, tropes that intend to diminish Black women’s power in the public sphere and make them nothing more than caricatures. As technology advances and digital activism comes to the forefront, there become even more ways to be vocal and create social change. America must call for an intersectional view of activism and require those who run these organizations and groups to consider if they address the unique issues of Black women, a demographic that supports, advocates, and at times, creates their ideologies and frameworks.

“Income Inequality in Connecticut: How an Uneven Tax Burden Reinforces Disparities and Fails to Provide Opportunities to Low-Income Residents”
Tom Lebert, MPA
pp. 112-126 | Published: April 2021

Income inequality has been on the rise in the United States for nearly half a century. Connecticut, like other northeastern states, has seen an especially dramatic increase in inequality, rapidly shifting from the 27th most unequal state to the 3rd in just 15 years. This paper analyzes the state government’s imperative to act by reviewing the factors leading to inequality (including geographic location and modernizing industries), the current state of inequality, and the current tax system in Connecticut and comparing this tax system to the recommendations for decreasing inequality made by economists and policy analysts. This analysis shows that the current regressive tax system and the policy decisions which have led to it may be in defiance of economists’ recommendations and are contributing to the rising inequality in the state. Additionally, the unique location of Connecticut next to the urban agglomeration economy of New York City and the concentration of wealth in neighboring Fairfield County, as well as recent research on the migration patterns of wealthy residents in response to taxes, suggests that a dramatically more progressive tax system may be successful in decreasing income inequality in the state. Implementation of the recommendations made by economists and policy analysts summarized in this paper is likely to lead to a more equitable distribution of income in the state and slow the dramatic rise of inequality seen in recent decades.

“Defunding the Police: The Path to Creating Safer Communities”
Zaria Guignard, MPA
pp. 127-135 | Published: April 2021

Following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minnesota on May 25, 2020, protests erupted throughout the country. Protests continued as other Black people were killed at the hands of excessive violence from police officers—Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many others. Protestors demanded justice for all Black people that have died, and continue to die, at the hands of police. In tandem with the calls for justice, protestors called for defunding the police. In this paper, I discuss the calls to defund the police and assess the public safety outcomes in communities most affected by police brutality—ultimately answering the question, is defunding the police a justifiable and sustainable option for creating safer communities? To do this, I review the impacts of criminalization on the Black community, past federal government defunding initiatives, and the municipal budget process. Then, I delve deeper into the general operating funds of three cities, Atlanta, GA, Philadelphia, PA, and Phoenix, AZ, by reviewing the total general fund expenditures and compare the amount being spent on law enforcement and other selected expenditures.