New Jersey State Policy Lab Celebrates 3rd Anniversary

April 26, 2024

By Elizabeth Cooner, Ed.D.

As we celebrate three years since the inception of the New Jersey State Policy Lab (NJSPL), we are proud of the solid foundation of public policy research we have built. Working with more than 120 faculty members, 80 students, and experts at 25 research centers, we have launched more than 40 research projects and published 265 research blogs and 32 reports, providing key insights and policy recommendations for New Jersey.

Today, we are delighted to announce that we are funding eight additional research projects:

  • The American Rescue Plan Act and Local Governments in NJ: An Equity Perspective by Pengju Zhang (School of Public Affairs and Administration, Rutgers-Newark) and Michael Hayes (Public Policy & Administration, Rutgers-Camden).
  • Artificial Intelligence Policies and Science Expertise in the U.S. State Legislature by Anna Dulencin (Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers-New Brunswick).
  • Computing on the Inside: A Policy Proposal for Integrating Computer Technology into Teaching and Learning in NJ State Prisons by Benjamin Justice (Graduate School of Education, Rutgers-New Brunswick).
  • Environmental Justice Policy Learning in Climate Adaptation Initiatives by Elke Weber (Princeton University) and Melissa Tier (Princeton University School of Public and International Affairs).
  • Harmless Error? NJ Appellate Court Oversight of Prosecutorial Misconduct by Elizabeth Griffiths (School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers-Newark).
  • IMPACT-NJ: Improved Policy-based Advancements for Chatbot Technology in NJ by Vivek Singh (School of Communication and Information, Rutgers-New Brunswick).
  • Is Property Assessed Clean Energy a White Windfall in Urban Neighborhoods? by Ruth Winecoff (Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers-New Brunswick).
  • Trends in Investor Acquisition of Residential Properties in NJ since 2000 and the Submarket-Specific Characteristics of Investors and their Business Practices by Eric Seymour, Will Payne, and Kathy Newman (Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers-New Brunswick).

Additionally, this summer will mark the third year of the NJSPL internship program, providing a collaborative environment where students conduct policy research, meet key stakeholders, and present their findings. This year’s cohort will be enriched by two teaching assistants: Sophia Fox-Dichter and Ciera Gaither. From a pool of 90 applicants, we selected eight students to participate: Bernice Amankwah, Luc Chapeau, Justin Deonarine, Beauty Oghomwenyemen Okunbor, Gretel Rodriguez Ramos, Jordyn Roy, Joana Tineo, and Tanaya Watson. Congratulations to all!

Since our inception, we have sought to advance understanding on a wide range of topics from education to economics and the environment, as well as many others, always relying upon an equity framework. On behalf of the NJ Department of Education, we are leading the Promising Practices Project, working with the Cornwall Center to identify innovative practices that promote student achievement in K-12 schools across the state. On the economics front, Will Irving prepares state and national economic forecasts as part of R/ECON (Rutgers Economic Advisory Service). In the environmental space, we collaborated with the Princeton University School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) to launch our first Policy Hackathon, where students conceptualized potential solutions to a policy challenge. This year’s hackathon focused on sea level rise and managed retreat in coastal communities.

Our overarching goal is to expand understanding of policy issues impacting the state and to amplify policy recommendations – for policymakers, the public, and other key stakeholders. Our hope is that this work contributes to improving the quality of life for everyone who lives in New Jersey.

The New Jersey State Policy Lab gratefully acknowledges that our funding is provided by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education. We were established as a collaboration between the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers-New Brunswick and the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers-Newark. The Principal Investigator of NJSPL is Stuart Shapiro, Dean of the Bloustein School. Charles Menifield (SPAA, Rutgers-Newark), Greg Porumbescu (SPAA, Rutgers-Newark), and Kelcie Ralph (Bloustein, Rutgers-New Brunswick) serve as co-Principal Investigators. We have a terrific team dedicated to our mission: Angie Le (postdoctoral associate), Kevin Majewski (research manager of the Promising Practices Project), Megan McCue (public relations specialist), and Candace Harrison (administrative assistant), as well as many research associates and assistants.

We hope you’ll visit the New Jersey State Policy Lab’s website, where you can learn more about our current projects, recent publications, and policy updates.

Dr. Elizabeth Cooner serves as the Executive Director of the New Jersey State Policy Lab.

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