McCormack Speaks

March 27, 2019
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UMass Boston First Africa Day a Major Success, Draws Over 100 Attendees

by Hannah Brown, PhD Candidate in Global Governance and Human Security

The Africa Scholars Forum at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston launched its first Africa day with the theme Pan Africa Rising on February 27th, 2019.

The event featured Keynote speakers, discussion panels, graduate students’ flash talks, African Marketplace, luncheon and a gala night reception with Afrobeat DJ and African food from Suya Joint, Cesaria, and Ashur restaurants. The opening address by Dr. Edozie and Keynote addresses by Professor Robinson and Zadi Zokou explored African liberation, decolonization, and connecting African immigrants and African Americans respectively. Panel discussions were on African perspectives on democracy, security and global governance and Beyond neoliberalism: the prospects for a Pan African economics.

Africa Day was a premier event that hopes to establish an interdisciplinary university-wide African studies presence in the University of Massachusetts, Boston (UMass Boston). The event aligns with the goals of the Africa Scholars Forum, which include developing an undergraduate minor and graduate certificate in African studies. The forum also seeks to engage students at UMass Boston with Africa programming missions and create undergraduate student research initiatives on African study. Moreover, it will establish a platform for deepened Africa research study for graduate students and promote existing and new faculty and student exchanges with African studies programs and universities in Africa, especially for study abroad programs and community research.

March 18, 2019
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Public Policy PhD Candidate Sean Mossey Receives Honorable Mention for Digital Governance Junior Scholar Award

Sean Mossey, Public Policy PhD Candidate in the McCormack Graduate School, received an Honorable Mention for the Digital Governance Junior Scholar Award. This award was given by the Section on Science and Technology in Government (SSTIG) of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA). The award committee found that he has an excellent research agenda and shows evidence for a promising publication and research potential that will likely result in a considerable theoretical and practical contribution to the field.

Additionally, he has recently co-published several articles in two prestigious academic journals. One explores harnessing the power of mobile technology to bridge the digital divides and is published in the Journal of Information Technology and Politics, and the other provides a chronological timeline on e-government policy and legislation, published in the Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy, and Governance. Both articles were co-published with Dr. Aroon Manoharan, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Public Affairs.

Sean Mossey is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and was the student representative for the Northeastern Conference on Public Administration (NECOPA) from 2015 to 2018. He graduated with a B.A. and MPA from the University of New Hampshire in history and public administration, respectively. He has worked as a research and teaching assistant for five years on projects in the realms of e-governance, m-governance, education policy, and organizational development. Mossey’s research interests and competencies also include information security policy, quantitative analysis, global comparative policy, and organizational theory. He currently works as a Human Resources Data Analyst for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with the Department of Transportation.

February 19, 2019
by saadiaahmad001
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Cliff Effects Webinar Draws in Over 250 Listeners From Around the Country

by Caitlin Carey, Doctoral Candidate of Public Policy and Public Affairs

On Tuesday, January 29th, the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Center for Social Policy hosted a webinar called, Cliff Effects: Turning Research into Action for Economic Mobility. The webinar highlighted the latest research on cliff effects from the Center for Social Policy and focused on how research is being deployed for policy and workforce practice.

Center for Social Policy Director Susan Crandall, along with Werby Intern, Magaly Vanessa, Saenz Somaribba, and PPPA doctoral student Caitlin Carey, presented their latest findings on cliff effects in Hampden County, Massachusetts, including an overview of policy solutions.

Michael Cole, Director of Budget and Analytics for the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, presented on the Learn to Earn Initiative and the CommonCalc Benefits Navigation Tool. With input from a CSP prototype, the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance is developing the CommonCalc Tool in order to better help workforce development providers assist program participants in getting over the benefits cliffs.

Milissa Daniels at Holyoke Community College, one of the five Learn to Earn grants recipients, spoke on the success to date of the medical assisting program. Anne Kandilis, Springfield WORKS/Working Cities Challenge Director, Economic Development Council of Western Mass, shared her findings from the Springfield WORKS initiative in which employers partnered with local workforce development providers ton increase employee retention. She also shared a detailed example of a family facing cliff effects, developed in partnership with the Center for Social Policy, entitled “Christina’s Dilemma.”

Abhidnya Kurve, Policy Associate & Coordinator for the On Solid Ground Coalition, spoke about On Solid Ground, which is cross-sector coalition of families and advocates, with the Center for Social Policy as the lead research partner. She highlighted new legislation to address housing stability and economic mobility for families living in Massachusetts.

According to Crandall, accessible webinars such as this that inform both the public and policymakers are an essential part of the Center for Social Policy’s mission. She commented, “I am thrilled that our Center for Social Policy research on cliff effects is being successfully deployed to develop tools, enhance practice, and influence policy for economic mobility. As an applied research center working at the intersection of employment practice and public policy, it is exactly what we aspire to do.”

February 19, 2019
by saadiaahmad001
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Being Black in America: Reflecting on Where We Are on the Way to Where We Are Going

by Olanike Ojelabi, Doctoral Student, Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs

As African Americans living in America, we have come a long way! From slavery to emancipation to a Black president who served two terms, to many other great accomplishments by Black iconic leaders and individuals for America. This progress made by peoples and communities of African descent is commendable; yet, the health of America’s democracy is questionable if there remain stark disparities in equity and social justice for all.

More than 100 years ago in 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois- a civil rights activist who died in Africa- specifically in Accra, Ghana- was a vanguard pan-Africanist, Black sociologist, historian, and the first African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard. Du Bois wrote “The Souls of Black Folk” [1] and many of his words in this groundbreaking book resonates with the experiences of many peoples of African descent in America today. In his first chapter “Of Our Spiritual Strivings,” DuBois highlights this unasked question – How does it feel to be a problem? For Du Bois, Whites couldn’t ask this real question to him directly. Du Bois contended that between him (Blacks) and this other world (America), there remained an invisible line, making it difficult to attain equality. Du Bois would say that despite being free, peoples of African descent remain constrained by the veil – a metaphor for color line that makes it difficult to achieve a relative level of success in America.

Du Bois’ concerns then are still valid today. Racial segregation, discrimination, and inequality are not yet a thing of the past. They pervade many institutions saddled with the responsibility to serve all Americans. An encounter with one institution can affect opportunities in another institution, making it more difficult for many African Americans to succeed. For instance, African Americans are only 13.4% of America’ population; yet, they are over-represented in the criminal justice system, accounting for 40% of the more than 2 million people in it [2]. Our encounter with the criminal justice system can lead to loss of voting right, job, housing, and educational opportunities. These systems, the type of interactions among them, and the conscious or unconscious racialized policies in place continue to enhance racial nuances that have consequential effects for peoples and communities of African descent and America [3].

The school system, that ought to nurture the intellectual capacity of American children, is another example. Through policies and practices like the zero-tolerance policies, this same system fosters the journey of many Black kids into the criminal justice system in a phenomenon known as the school-to-prison pipeline [4]. According to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights [5], Black students, even preschoolers, are disproportionately suspended from school. While Black students represent only 16% of student enrollment, they account for 31% of students subjected to a school-related arrest. This is concerning especially when compared with White students who represent 51% of enrollment, but only 39% of those subjected to a school-related arrest . This systematic racism tends to make us oblivious of the persistence of racism, but the experiences and effects linger in our society, even much more in the lives of African Americans who live in this reality.

W.E.B. Du Bois concludes his book with hopes for the future. This will be a future where all Americans irrespective of their identity can be assured equality and justice. We celebrate Black history month in remembrance and appreciation of great Americans – and Africans – like Du Bois, but the joy of celebration will become greater if we celebrate in the realization of their hopes- an America for all. So, let America and all its people rise for racial justice. We can make Black history month celebrate both accomplishments of Blacks in America, and the equality and justice that all Americans have truly achieved!

 

Footnotes

[1] W.E.B. Du Bois. (1903). The Souls of Black Folk. Chapter One “Of our spiritual strivings,” https://www.gutenberg.org/files/408/408-h/408-h.htm

[2] Wagner P., and Rabuy, B. (2019). Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017. Prison Policy Initiative https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2017.html

[3] Grant-Thomas, A., and Powell, J.A. (2009). “Structural Racism and Color Lines in the United States,” in A., Grant-Thomas and G., Orfield (Eds.). Twenty-First Century Color Lines: Multiracial Change in Contemporary America (pp. 118-142). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

[4] Cole, N.L. (2019). Understanding the School-to-Prison Pipeline. ThoughtCo.

https://www.thoughtco.com/school-to-prison-pipeline-4136170

[5] U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. (2014). Civil Rights Data Collection: Data Snapshot (School Discipline). U.S. Department of Education. https://ocrdata.ed.gov/Downloads/CRDC-School-Discipline-Snapshot.pdf

December 14, 2018
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Chae Man Lee is One of First Two Recipients of Gerontology Department’s Postdoc Fellowship

McCormack Speaks sat down with Dr. Chae Man Lee, a 2017 graduate of the Gerontology PhD program and one of the first of two of the department’s postdoctoral fellows.

 

SA: What was your research focus as a student?

CL: My research was focused on senior transportation, older driver safety, and healthy aging data reporting for Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. My doctoral dissertation entitled, “Understanding the role of driver, vehicle, environment, and policy factors in crash injury severity among older adults in the United States” investigated how individual characteristics, vehicle elements, environmental elements, and driving licensing policy were associated with level of injury severity, from no injury to fatal injury resulting from car crashes.

SA: What is the main focus of your postdoc fellowship?

CL: As a post doc, I am still doing older driver safety and healthy aging data reporting. I am currently a co-investigator on a healthy aging data report for Massachusetts and New Hampshire, funded by Tufts Health Plan Foundation. I am working with Drs. Beth Dugan and Frank Porell to develop healthy aging data reports for Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. We also do research on transportation options available for older people in Massachusetts, safety of older pedestrians for MassDOT, and the Governor’s Council to Address Aging Issues in Massachusetts to improve transportation safety.

SA: Are there any new or expanded projects you are able to pursue now that you were not able to do as a student?

CL: Besides working on healthy aging data report, I also plan to expand research about older driver safety related with my dissertation. Regarding hot spot analysis of crash location among older drivers in my dissertation, I was doing it only for the Massachusetts area. But, in the future, I will plan to do more on hotspot analysis of crash locations among older drivers in all of the United States.

SA: How have the resources at the McCormack Graduate School and at UMass Boston assisted with your postdoc goals?

CL: In 2007, I made the first journey to enter the Gerontology PhD program. As a student, I met wonderful mentors, Dr. Beth Dugan and Dr. Frank Porell. They are always supportive to grow my research ability. We have been working together on healthy aging data reports from 2013. From getting my degree and currently working on the healthy aging project, the McCormack Graduate School and UMass Boston are always providing great environments for research. The faculties and staff from the Department of Gerontology are all good. As I am an international student, UMass Boston was great to support my visa status to continuously work in the US.

SA: How do you view your work as connecting to the values and mission of the McCormack Graduate School?

CL: I have heavily focused on quantitative research design, data collection, management, and analysis. As a part of the healthy aging research team, I have a good opportunity to look at how my quantitative research experiences are effective in the real life of local areas and service providers for older people. I think that our healthy aging products are in accordance with MGS’s mission.

SA: Anything else that you would like to note?

CL: I want to express special appreciation to Drs. Dugan and Dr. Porell. I have spent my entire life in MGS at UMass Boston with them from 2007 to current. Without them, I am not able to finish my degree and to do my postdoc fellowship. They are not only great mentors and professors in school life but also friends and family members in personal life. They always encourage, guide, and advise me to move forward and to produce better works in my research as well as provide the best warmth.

 

 

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