Check out our speaker series!

We have had a wonderful array of speakers this month at the Ford School. The range of topics is illustrative of the breadth of faculty and student policy interests here. I wanted to highlight a couple that I attended and found extremely interesting.

On January 31st (so almost February!), we co-hosted a panel discussion entitled Beyond the Wall: The Human Toll of Border Crossings. The panelists included Brooke Jarvis, a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine and the author of Unclaimed, an investigative narrative about an unidentified migrant bed-bound in a San Diego hospital for 16 years and the networks of immigrant families searching for their missing loved ones. She was joined by Jason De León, an associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan and director of the Undocumented Migration Project, a long-term anthropological study of undocumented migration between Mexico and the United States that uses ethnography, archaeology and forensic science to understand this clandestine social process. In recognition of his work on this project, De León was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2017. The third panelist was Ann Lin, an associate professor at the Ford School. She teaches courses on public policy implementation, gender and politics, qualitative research methods and immigration. Lin is currently studying potential immigration policies and the beliefs of American immigrants with a special focus on Arab Americans.

In their really moving discussion, the panel shed light on the true human cost of undocumented migration, including many lives lost in crossing the desert, family members who disappear and are never heard from again as well the many abuses endured by these migrants.

On Monday, February 19th, as part of our Citi Foundation lecture series, we hosted Ana Navarro. If that name sounds familiar to you, you may have heard her on many different news programs. Ana is a GOP strategist and political contributor to CNN, ABC News, and Telemundo.

Ana frequently appears in the media, sought after by Meet the PressBill Maher’s Real TimeAnderson Cooper 360, and The View, to name a few. She is in touch with the political issues people are talking about, and in presentations, she discusses the latest hot button issues in politics, giving audiences an insider’s view of the upcoming elections and a roadmap for where the country is headed.

In her wide ranging and entertaining talk, Ana discussed topics such as the state of both the Democratic and Republican parties, the upcoming mid-term elections, gun control, tax reform and immigration policy. Her candor in assessing the situation of the U.S., while sometimes a bit depressing, was refreshing and educational.

If you have not yet checked out the events section of our website, I would encourage you to do so. You can find links to the video stream of past events as well as the schedule of upcoming speakers. Take a look!

The Dow Sustainability Fellowship program

Garcia Montufar, Diego


This post is written by Diego Garcia Montufar. Diego is pursuing a dual master’s degree program in public policy and applied economics


One of the highlights of my experience at the Ford School was my work through the Dow Sustainability Fellowship. Dow fellows engage in an interdisciplinary team project with students from other schools and departments from across UM and attend seminars by academics, practitioners, and other sustainability experts. The fellowship highlights the importance of collaboration across disciplines to devise actionable sustainability solutions at local and global levels.

My team, composed of students from the schools of Public Policy and Environment and Sustainability, assessed barriers to ridesharing and carsharing in HOPE Village, a neighborhood in the city of Detroit. Shared-use mobility services such as ridesharing and carsharing are changing the transportation landscape across the world and providing people with access to opportunities such as jobs and education. These mobility services, however, have mostly been targeted to high-end consumers and have the potential to exclude low-resourced, low-density communities. By focusing on a neighborhood in Detroit, my team hoped to understand whether shared-use mobility services could contribute to satisfy the transportation needs of communities where public transportation is wanting, and to identify the challenges and barriers that prevent people from using them.

As a policy student interested in qualitative research methods, I was responsible for designing the questionnaires that we used to conduct focus groups in HOPE Village. A key part of my job was amplifying the voices and opinions of residents, and using their insights to inform the recommendations to our local partner. My teammates conducted research in areas like transportation policy, focusing on successful ridesharing and carsharing programs across the US, while others incorporated their business and environmental expertise to our work. In addition, we received enormous support from our local partner, Focus: HOPE and from Ford School faculty like Elisabeth Gerber, a transportation policy expert.

The focus groups we conducted revealed that the most significant barriers to shared-use mobility services in HOPE Village were access to credit, security concerns, and a lack of outreach and inclusion from shared-use mobility companies. Many of these barriers could be addressed by adequate policy responses, but others depend on the strategies employed by shared-used mobility companies to penetrate different neighborhoods and areas. Our findings confirmed that an interdisciplinary approach like the one espoused by the Dow Sustainability Fellowship could in fact contribute to major changes in the transportation landscape and make shared-use mobility services more accessible and equitable. Many cities across the US have acknowledged this; the city of Detroit has launched an Office of Mobility Innovation, and the city of San Francisco is currently conducting a series of studies on Emerging Mobility Services and Technologies to inform future policy options and pilot programs, taking community collaboration and equitable access as some of its guiding principles.

My experience as a Dow Fellow serves as a strong reminder of why I chose to study public policy in the first place: policy problems are multifaceted, and their solutions must draw from multiple disciplines, including economics, sociology, health sciences, and others. Programs like the Dow Sustainability Fellowship are an opportunity for Ford and other UM students to put their knowledge in practice and contribute to solutions that can improve the quality of life for present and future generations while safeguarding our planet.