Willamette Lawyer | Fall 2005 • Vol. V, No. 2
Willamette’s Pioneering Law and Government Program
Public Policy Research at Willamette LAW & GOVERNMENT S ince 2003 law students considering a run for public office, careers in the public sector or work in advocacy organizations have joined their management school counterparts in learning the basics of policy analysis by enrolling in Public Policy Studies. A required course for the Law and Government Certificate Program, Public Policy Studies is taught by Professor Laura Leete, the Fred H. Paulus director of public policy research at Willamette. Leete’s course gives students an understanding of the theories and methods underlying public policy analysis. Covering an array of diverse topics, such as cigarette tax, school choice, utility regulation and the Endangered Species Act, the course enables law students to explore substantive policy aspects related to the complex legal issues they are examining in other courses. Class discussions are enriched by the range of training and perspectives brought to the table by the mix of JD, LLM, MBA and joint-degree students enrolled in the course. An economist by training, Leete directs Willamette University’s Public Policy Research Center. Policy analysis and research are by nature cross-disciplinary and draw especially heavily on disciplines in law, management and the liberal arts. Thus, while physically housed on the liberal arts side of campus, the center has ties to all three schools at the university. Center staff work to foster public policy analysis and discussion across campus to create policy research opportunities, to place students in public policy related internships outside the university and to advise students interested in pursuing careers in 24 related fields. Robert Collin, the center’s senior research scholar, also teaches a number of courses in the College of Law. His research on environmental justice spans the intersection of law and policy. In keeping with its mission, in recent years the center has sponsored a variety of campus-wide conferences and forums on policy issues. Recent events have covered such topics as Oregon’s Measure 7, forest management policy and Oregon’s high rate of hunger. The center also has received research grants and contracts from national, state, and local foundations and agencies. Center faculty, staff and students have collaborated with state and local agencies on research projects that included an examination of the federal Workforce Investment Act, the development of community well-being indicators, and food stamp program outreach methods in nearby schools. The center seeks to facilitate the university’s relationship with Oregon’s leadership in the governor’s office and legislature, which are located just a stone’s throw away from the university. At the beginning of the 2005 legislative session, the center hosted a two-day Leadership Institute in conjunction with the Atkinson Graduate School of Management. This institute was created for and attended by Oregon’s newly elected state senators. An important institute event was a presentation on Oregon’s Constitution by Hans Linde, a distinguished scholar in residence at the College of Law. More information on the center can be found at www.willamette.edu/publicpolicy.