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The “Academic Minute”: Connecting research to policy

We try to keep an eye out for university research that could potentially have an impact on public policy. A great source of information is “Academic Minute”, which highlights studies that help solve “the world’s toughest problems” and serve “the public good.” It is hosted by Dr. Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

As its name suggests, the “Academic Minute” podcast provides a short pithy oral description of a research project, generally by the lead researcher. Listeners also can also find a handy written transcript for each entry as well as descriptive information about the researcher.  

Each weekday, the podcast covers a wide variety of fascinating research – like the future of shopping malls or common misconceptions about hand-washing.  We’ve sifted through the summer’s entries to provide a selection of episodes that we consider particularly relevant to managers, policy-makers and researchers in state and local government.

“Bad Bosses and the Defensive Environment” – Christian Kiewitz, a professor of management at the University of Dayton, discusses the harm to any organization of bosses who manipulate, ridicule and intimidate. He looks at why employees sometimes stay silent out of fear and notes that workers who react with “fear-based silence” are “more likely to say they experienced abusive supervision a year later.” Not surprisingly, bad bosses may lead employees to quit, sabotage their bosses and lose emotional attachment to the organization.

“Play and Public Spaces” – Teresa Gonzales, assistant professor of sociology at Knox College, talks about the importance of play for adults, looking at ways Chicagoans in high-crime neighborhoods are “reimagining public streets, sidewalks, parks and abandoned lots as spaces for music, dancing, eating, skateboarding, basketball and just having fun.”

“States and Gun Laws” – Aaron Kivisto, assistant professor in the College of Applied Behavioral Sciences at the University of Indianapolis, shares research findings that show strengthening state-level gun laws offer promise “for reducing rates of fatal police shootings in the United States.”

“The Importance of the Census” – Jay Zagorsky, economist and research scientist at The Ohio State University, explains the differences in outcome of a “quick and cheap” census and one that picks up harder to find individuals, such as the homeless or non-English speakers.

“Fighting Rust Belt Blight” – Richard Sadler, assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Michigan State University, describes a recent study that showed a decline in crime rates when citizens were engaged with the “beautification of their neighborhoods.”


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