Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, June 11, 2020

Students tackle child poverty, violent extremism for international clients

Students tackle child poverty, violent extremism for international clients

La Follette School students conducted research and analysis on behalf of two international organizations as part of their culminating Workshop in Public Affairs (PA 869) projects during the Spring 2020 semester.

For the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), one team of students mapped and analyzed the connection between climate change, child poverty in wealthy nations, and childhood development.

Another team assisted the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) in its efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism in Kenya, Kosovo, and the Philippines.

In their report for OECD, students surveyed the severe and wide-ranging ramifications of climate change and demonstrated how they harm poor children in OECD nations. They proposed several policy options to ameliorate potential high-risk harms to children in poverty due to the effects on health, education and social stability, from climate change and from the mitigation of climate change. They also identified gaps in literature and research for future review to better understand the issue.

Nicole Adrian, Brian Barnett, Laura Bunn, Morgan Galecki, Jacob Ginn, and Bill Plumley collaborated on the project for OECD, which has partnered with the La Follette School on several other projects in previous years. Professor Tim Smeeding served as the students’ advisor.

“The OECD Social Policy Division has been an important client of the La Follette School’s Workshop projects,” said Smeeding. “This year, under the leadership of client Olivier Thevanon, these students were the first to examine the negative effects of climate change on children as part of OECD’s ongoing effort to help poor children and recover from the COVID-19 epidemic with investments in clean energy, which are a large part of the COVID-19 policy response.”  

For GCERF, another team of students analyzed the three countries’ efforts to incorporate local stakeholders in their National Action Plans (NAPs) and developed a qualitative coding schema to assess the NAPs in terms of best practices laid out by the United Nations. The students recommended that GCERF focus on policy initiatives related to promoting empowerment, supporting capacity building, and connecting with development agencies and non-governmental organizations to improve decentralization outcomes.

Emma Cleveland, Sascha Glaeser, Lauren Jorgensen, Lewi Negede Lewi, and Anders Shropshire collaborated with GCERF on this project. Professor Greg Nemet served as the students’ advisor.

The required Workshop in Public Affairs course matches student groups with public, nonprofit, and private organizations to address real-world challenges. While completing these client-based projects, students gain practical experience applying the tools of political, economic, and statistical analysis and evaluation they acquired during three semesters of coursework.

Students work interactively with the client to develop the project and final report over the course of the spring semester. These projects are the equivalent of the thesis for a master’s degree from the La Follette School of Public Affairs.