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Saba Siddiki is shown with four graduate students.

Maxwell School Launches Center for Policy Design and Governance

July 7, 2022

It will serve as a hub for scholars, policymakers and students to examine the design and impact of policies that communities use to solve public problems.

Saba Siddiki

Saba Siddiki

A new research center at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs will integrate policy, political and computational sciences to support scientists and practitioners in understanding and addressing critical governance challenges.

The Center for Policy Design and Governance will serve as a hub for scholars, policymakers and students to examine the design and impact of policies that communities use to solve public problems. For instance, center researchers may explore the designs of state laws adopted to address issues like climate change. They can analyze and advise on best practices for the creation and application of such policies, including how government entities engage NGOs and citizens in public problem solving, policy formulation and policy implementation. They may additionally explore collaborations aimed at developing and implementing policies to protect marginalized communities from environmental threats.

The center will not only support research activity but will also house the newly created Policy Design Studio. An outward-facing unit of the center, it will offer workshops, individualized training programs and consulting services to current and aspiring policymakers.

Saba Siddiki, associate professor of public administration and international affairs and the Chapple Family Professor of Citizenship and Democracy, will serve as founding director of the center. The new center will be situated within Maxwell's Center for Policy Research where Siddiki serves as a senior research associate. 

“I’m excited to bring these new opportunities to study policy design and governance to the Maxwell School,” says Siddiki, whose research focuses on policy design, collaborative policymaking, institutional theory and analysis, and regulatory implementation and compliance.

In addition to campus-based initiatives, under Siddiki’s leadership, the center will provide on-campus support for her work with affiliated research initiatives, both of which Siddiki is founding director or co-director. These include the newly established Computational Institutional Science Lab, focused on developing and applying computational methods to study how societies are governed, and the Institutional Grammar Initiative, an international consortium of scholars who are funded by the National Science Foundation and work to define the commonalities, or “grammar,” of policies and social norms.

Siddiki is excited, too, about the experiential learning the center will provide to undergraduate and graduate students across the University’s 13 schools and colleges. “The center will sponsor a range of instructional and practical opportunities to help students learn about and apply skills relating to policy design, implementation and stakeholder engagement in the public policy process,” she adds.

Serving its research and educational agendas, the new Center will also serve as the institutional home for the Policy Studies Journal. The center will partner with the journal's editorial team to co-sponsor research activities and events and to support student engagement.

“Saba’s own scholarship and her efforts to advance these new fields of study and attract the funding to support them are remarkable,” says Maxwell School Dean David M. Van Slyke. “Her ability to generate excitement, creativity and collaboration in the creation of new instruments for policy design with disparate scholars around the globe and our students is a powerful force shaping the future of public administration and policy and the social sciences more broadly."

Published in the Fall 2022 issue of the Maxwell Perspective

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