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The Project on Political Reform investigates the sources of political and government dysfunction and identifies pragmatic solutions. PPR addresses topics such as legislative decision making, lobbying, political accountability, campaign laws and practices, structural incentives influencing candidate and office-holder behavior, and the relationships between governing institutions. PPR focuses primarily on local, state, and federal government in the United States but, at times, may also address governmental dysfunction in other Western democracies.
PPR is nonpartisan and strongly committed to thoughtful, evidence-based policymaking without regard to political party or ideology.
If you are currently considering a PhD in political science or political economy, or if you are advising students in this position, we encourage you to consider Harris Public Policy at the University of Chicago. In particular, if you want to study political institutions, political behavior, the political economy of democracies (including American politics), or the politics of the policymaking process, and if you want to develop skills in formal theory or design-based causal inference, this is the program for you. Here are 7 reasons.
Social media has expanded the public square. More voices are being heard. But our democratic institutions are being severely tested … by fake news, echo chambers, hyper-partisanship, hate-speech, privacy breeches, laser-like message targeting, and even Russian meddling. The Project on Political Reform at Harris Public Policy, supported by a grant from the Democracy Fund, recently hosted a panel discussion entitled: Has Social Media Changed Democracy? The panel, moderated by Washington Post national political correspondent Karen Tumulty, included top political digital professionals from both sides of the aisle.
The Across the Aisle Dinner Series is a way to bring students outside of their ideological comfort zones, pushing them to engage in challenging policy conversations that might otherwise be avoided. We typically recruit 6 liberals and 6 conservatives to participate in the discussion and share their honest and candid views on interesting and often controversial public policy issues. Dinner is always on us! You don't have to be an expert. You just need to be interested in politics and public policy. Recent topics have included: guns, immigration, and the proper role of government. Our next dinner will be Tuesday February 13th. The topic is: "Lead the Free World or Step Back and Focus on America: What's the Right Posture for American Policy Leaders?" Click here to learn more and register.
PPR is looking for innovative ideas for mitigating political polarization and/or its destructive effects. Please submit your idea. We will discuss the most interesting ideas at an upcoming conference on political polarization. Remember … political viability is an important consideration.
This coming May, PPR will host a small bi-partisan conference of highly accomplished political practitioners and political scientists to discuss the scope and nature of political polarization in the United States and what, if anything, can or should be done to mitigate it or manage its consequences. Check back here for further details.
This past June, PPR and the Center for Survey Methodology (CSM) convened a remarkable two-day discussion on the current state of the electoral process. The participants included top political consultants from both major political parties and researchers from the University of Chicago, UCLA and Stanford University. Political consultants are the principal custodians of the nation’s electoral system. They understand campaign processes and tactics better than almost anyone else and are constantly engaged in leveraging the system’s strength and exploiting its weaknesses. Yet their opinions and ideas are rarely solicited by either researchers or reformers. This conference sought to address this deficiency. In addition to PPR and CSM, Associated Press NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, and the Bipartisan Policy Center were co-organizers of this extraordinary conference.
How the U.S. Constitution undermines effective government.
His book, Imperfect Union was featured on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:
Learn to create change through political campaigns.
Testing the assumptions on the inner workings of democracy.
Harnessing the power of data to drive policy – and transforming lives.
William Howell, Director of PPR, is the Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at Harris Public Policy and a professor in the Department of Political Science and the College. He has written widely on separation-of-powers issues and American political institutions, especially the presidency. He currently is working on research projects on Obama's education initiatives, distributive politics and the normative foundations of executive power.
Marc Farinella (MA '87), Executive Director of PPR, is a Senior Fellow and former Chief Operating Officer of Harris Public Policy. During his twenty-five year career in government and politics, he has served as a gubernatorial chief of staff, political campaign director, and political and public policy adivsor to governors, U.S. Senators and political candidates across the nation.
Harris Students: Do you want to feel more engaged in our surrounding communities? Want to develop valuable experience in Public Sector Consulting and Management? Join the Community Action Bureau (CAB), a joint project of PPR and the University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement.
Through this certificate program, sponsored by the Project on Political Reform, students learn the core analytic and technical skills used in modern political campaigns, as well as the social scientific principles to evaluate and apply these skills appropriately. Such expertise is essential to the running of modern electoral and advocacy campaigns.