Students in professor Rebecca Kreitzer’s courses during the 2018-2019 academic year created policy briefs and reports illustrating policy topics from North Carolina to across the globe. Students researched specific issues and solutions related to themes including criminal justice, affordable housing, K-12 education, and sexual assault in the military.
In Professor Kreitzer’s fall and spring Public Policy 220 courses, students worked on short, 2 to 3-page policy briefs specific to North Carolina issues. Their peers in the spring 2019 Public Policy 365 course created full, 10 to 12-page policy reports investigating local and global issues in depth. Topics range from campus sexual assault and gender inequality in the US, to the role the US government plays in sex ed/family planning in developing countries.
The Research Hub Data Visualization Librarian and the Social Sciences Librarian from Research & Instructional Services teamed up to assist students in researching topics and designing their briefs. Students learned about the research process and how to apply principles of design using programs like Word and Illustrator. Many of the students met with the librarians in one-on-one consultations for research assistance and to workshop their policy brief drafts.
Reflecting on the assignment in fall 2018, Professor Kreitzer wrote,
“I cannot say enough positive things about the Research Hub and am so grateful for the support. I know there are professors all around the country basing projects off this assignment, and everyone agrees that a major reason why the assignment is so powerful is because of the emphasis on finding ways to communicate effectively.”
Professor Kreitzer publicly shared her fall students’ policy briefs on Twitter, posting 19 on issues from NC teacher retention and food deserts, to voter ID laws, affordable housing and water pollution. Several academics and policymakers from across North Carolina and the US responded, focusing on the merits of the assignment and offering more ideas for policy briefs. Students also responded positively to the assignment, asserting that it provided new, valuable information. Professor Kreitzer also posted her spring PLCY 365 students’ policy briefs on Twitter, yielding a similar response.
For the assignment, Professor Kreitzer recommended that students use the Social Sciences Librarian’s PLCY 220 course page for the research process, and the the Data Visualization Librarian’s website for tips on visually communicating information like policy issues.