McCormack Speaks

January 1, 2018
by McCormack Speaks

I Am Not a Cardboard Cutout! The Bias of Body Mass Index (BMI)

by Thomas Nee, McCormack Graduate School public administration student

image of measuring your waist lineAn insidious movement is discriminating against people like me. So far, only my life insurance rates are materially affected but this movement is so pervasive and accepted that it’s only a matter of time before it affects my relationship with my doctor, my health insurance provider, and my government. These groups increasingly rely on Body Mass Index (BMI) to categorize me. This simple formula combines height and weight into a single index. It is quickly applied to large populations and simplifies research across space and time. I am not writing about the common observation that BMI does not measure fat vs. muscle but about something I cannot change: my height.

BMI = m / h2

Where m is mass in kilograms and h is height in meters (multiply by a conversion factor of 703 if mass is in pounds and height is in inches). The formula has a fundamental flaw: the exponent 2.  It is applicable only if we are two-dimensional beings!  It allows us to grow in height and width but not depth. I am not a flat, cardboard cutout. Continue Reading →

December 19, 2017
by McCormack Speaks

McCormack Professor Interviewed on Government Use of Mobile Apps

technology at your finger tipsMcCormack Graduate School’s Aroon Manoharan, associate professor of public policy and public affairs, focuses his research on e-government, the application of information technology in government, and how global cities adopt and implement innovative technologies for providing information and services to their citizens. He was recently interviewed by, an Internet and media company based in New York City.

The interview focused on municipal e-government and public participation, specifically the mobile voting (mVoting) app of the city of Seoul, South Korea. Although not an official voting mechanism, the application enables citizens of Seoul to participate in the democratic process by providing their feedback and opinion to public policy proposals. The app is especially helpful for politicians as they focus on the correct problems to solve.

Manoharan learned of the app when conducting a collaborative study between the McCormack Graduate School and Rutgers University’s E-Governance Institute on the e-government performance of the largest global cities. Based on an evaluation of municipal websites, the study titled “Digital Governance in Municipalities Worldwide Survey” identified the strengths and weaknesses of each municipality on issues of privacy and security, usability, content, services, and citizen and social engagement. Continue reading.

December 8, 2017
by McCormack Speaks

Renewable Energy: Where Perception and Reality Collide

by Thomas Nee, McCormack Graduate School student

confused man with his hands on his headPeople often believe what they want to believe despite contrary information. “It is remarkable that large groups of people can coalesce around a common belief when few of them individually possess the requisite knowledge to support it.” (Fernbach and Sloman, 2017). I examine here how perception and reality collide regarding climate change not whether it exists but what to do about it.

People trust experts. But what happens when experts contradict long-held beliefs?  “(S)witch off the radio, change channels, only like the Facebook pages that give you the kind of news you prefer. You can construct a pillow fort of the information that’s comfortable.” (Beck, 2017). Listen to trusted authorities who share your opinions and suppress the rest. False beliefs are often a social phenomenon.

Many people believe that “renewable” energy of any type is preferable to burning fossil fuels. Hydroelectric power is a proven form of renewable energy but it is not “free.” It costs money, manpower, and resources to develop a plant. Any carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted is greatly outweighed by the plant’s lifetime output. This may not be the case with all renewable systems. Continue Reading →

December 4, 2017
by McCormack Speaks

Raising the Minimum Wage in Massachusetts to $15 – Should that even be a question?

by Marisela Ramirez, McCormack Graduate School student

money rollsWe are a society that values hard work and considers it the ticket to living a middle-class lifestyle. But, reaching this lifestyle isn’t always that easy for some. No matter how hard you work, you still find yourself struggling to make ends meet and pay for basic needs.

The minimum wage in 2008 was $8/hour where it remained for six years. In 2014, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill that raised it to $11 per hour. This law was phased in over three years with a $1 annual increase. The last boost was implemented in January of this year.

In Massachusetts, a minimum wage worker currently earns $11 per hour, amounting to a full-time earned income of only $22,880 a year. Can you imagine trying to live on an income like this?  Or imagine being a parent who cannot provide some of the most basic needs of food, clothing, and child care for your family. We all know that the cost of living only keeps getting higher and higher. While the state has raised the minimum wage over the years, it has failed to take into consideration the increasing cost of living. Continue Reading →

November 29, 2017
by McCormack Speaks

McCormack Graduate School Hosts Conference on School Discipline

headshot of Professor Mark R. WarrenWhat are the impacts of school suspension? To begin with, students suffer the obvious loss of instructional time. Research also indicates that suspensions lead to lower grade levels in reading, significantly increase the risk of dropping out of school, and are a leading indicator of future incarceration.Data also shows that black and disabled students are referred to the principal’s office more often than other students. In Massachusetts, the average Black/White gap was 24 more days of lost instruction, with 10 schools having a Black/White gap of over 100 days.

Professor of Public Policy and Public Affairs Mark R. Warren and his graduate assistant Andrew King hosted a day-long event, “Moving Beyond Chapter 222,” about the school discipline landscape in Massachusetts and possibilities for future investment in progressive discipline aimed to, in the end, close the racial discipline gap and ensure student success and higher graduation rates.


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