September 13, 2010

A new home for IPS in Public Health

The Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies, a longtime freestanding organization of the university, has a new academic home: the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The move, effective immediately, is intended to maximize IPS’s potential as a resource for the university. Current plans are for the institute to remain on the Homewood campus.

The IPS director previously reported to the Provost’s Office, which announced the move earlier this month in an internal letter. In the message, Provost Lloyd Minor said that the move would best position the institute going forward.

“As plans for identifying a new permanent director [for the institute] were discussed, it became increasingly clear that aligning IPS more closely with the Bloomberg School and HPM would benefit both organizations. In particular, a school affiliation enhances the potential to recruit new faculty to IPS,” Minor said.

Ellen MacKenzie, the Fred and Julie Soper Professor of Health Policy and Management and chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management, said that she believes the move will raise the profile of the institute and directly fuel work going on in the university.

“We’re very excited about this,” MacKenzie said. “We see IPS as bringing expertise in the area of policy that we don’t necessarily have. We see public health researchers and those focused on social policies working very closely together. This brings a lot to the table.”

MacKenzie said that two main goals are to foster IPS as a resource that develops and applies policy analysis to a broad array of social issues, and to provide an outstanding graduate program in policy studies.

“I foresee IPS as being the go-to place in the university for a range of social issues,” she said.

IPS is the primary social science policy research and teaching arm of the university, providing undergraduate and master’s degree programs in public policy and policy administration. The institute’s mission is to strengthen public policy through rigorous analysis of the most pressing social issues.

The institute’s interdisciplinary staff of faculty and scientists historically informs policies related to poverty, social welfare, urban housing and an effective workforce.

The institute, founded in 1987, offers a Masters of Arts in Public Policy through the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences to 35 or more students each year. There are more than 80 students currently enrolled in the program.

Michael J. Klag, dean of the Bloomberg School, said that the move will strengthen an already robust relationship.

“IPS has a stellar reputation, and we have long admired the work of the faculty there both on the research and education fronts,” Klag said. “The institute has focused on health in the past, and I fully expect it will increasingly do more on urban health issues and extend its mission into health policy. This move will certainly create new synergies.”

Klag said the move will also strengthen the Bloomberg School’s ties with the Homewood campus and facilitate even greater collaboration and scholarly interactions with Homewood faculty and students. School of Public Health faculty currently teach courses in the School of Arts and Science’s Public Health Studies program, which is one of the most popular undergraduate majors.

“This gives us an exciting new bridge to Homewood as we’ve never had a physical location there,” he said.

The institute will transition to its new home in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the current academic year.

Since July 2009, Donald Steinwachs, a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, has served as interim director of the Institute for Policy Studies. Steinwachs, who succeded longtime director Sandra Newman, will continue in his role until a permanent replacement is found. A search is expected to commence later this year.

Steinwachs said he is very excited about the future of the institute and lauded the investment in its work.

“This is a great opportunity to strengthen the IPS faculty and become involved very broadly across the university, through both education and research, as we continue to make significant contributions to the science of policy development, implementation and evaluation,” he said.