The Sol Price School of Public Policy has a world class faculty that not only conduct meaningful research, but have a personal connection to the School’s mission, aspiring to improve the quality of life for people and their communities.
In recent weeks the Price school was extremely fortunate to welcome a new provost professor and two endowed chairs, three distinguished faculty who continue to push boundaries with exceptional scholarship and determination.
“These extraordinary scholars bring to the Price School unparalleled vision, credentials and determination toward activating systemic change in reducing inequality, empowering better decisions, and empirically advancing addiction policy.” Dean Jack H. Knott
What are the right ingredients to identify and spread effective new ideas?
Dr. Beckman brings a wealth of ground-breaking research in social innovation, inequality, entrepreneurship, organizational learning and interorganizational networks to the Price School and its Sol Price Center for Social Innovation. With an eye toward system change, her research investigates how collaborative relationships and diverse experiences can facilitate change and infuse new ideas.
In her forthcoming book, Dream of the Overworked: Living, Working, and Partnering in the Digital Age, she addresses the current impact of technology on working parents and how technology further hides the “invisible work” often provided by women. She describes the scaffolding and structural support that enable working families to thrive at work and at home, and she highlights that framing this as an individual problem to solve, rather than a community and societal concern, perpetuates gender inequality.
Scaling up social innovations:
While working with refugee camps, for example, an empirical question was whether to look at different locations, organizations, or practices. She cared about practices. “Pick any social problem and we can figure out what to do on the ground in a specific location, but what questions do we need to ask to effectively expand ideas on a larger scale across locations?” she noted. “We need to look for macro-level connections, how do new practices spread across different entities and spaces.” This builds on her work in education, evaluating the evolution of public school experiments like charter schools. What is it that allows new practices and innovations to diffuse?
At the Price School:
Coming at issues from multiple lenses and different disciplines is what inspires new ideas and innovations. “I know that from my research. The Price School embodies that approach in all that they do,” Beckman said. “I came here to build knowledge and understanding and help define the field of social innovation. There’s nothing more important than coming up with ways to solve the many intractable problems we face, to understand the processes that work and to spread them.”
Research Expertise: Social innovation and inequality, organizational learning and interorganizational networks, social entrepreneurship, technology and work, organizational control. Read bio.
How do you help people make better decisions to improve their health and wellbeing?
Beginning in January 2020, Dr. Bruine de Bruin will join the Price School as Provost Professor of Public Policy, Psychology and Behavioral Science, and play a pivotal role in the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics’ behavioral science initiative. At USC, Provost Professors are outstanding interdisciplinary scholars appointed by the provost. Her interdisciplinary research aims to understand how people make decisions about their health and well-being, and, where needed, how best to develop interventions to facilitate more informed choices. She has published more than 100 papers to date in peer reviewed journals across multiple disciplines.
Among the first at the intersection of sound evidence and application:
She was one of the first in her field to take decision research out of the lab and into the world. She developed, for example, a sex education intervention for adolescent girls that showed them options at different decision points when interacting with their partners. “Girls told us that they did not feel in control of their sexual decisions, so we helped them recognize possible choices and asked them to rehearse how they would talk about their choices with their partners,” she noted. She and her team followed participants for six months and found that the intervention reduced risky sexual behavior and sexually transmitted infections compared to controls. A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services review determined the intervention to be highly successful.
Around the world:
Dr. Bruine de Bruin’s research has informed the UK’s National Health Services communications about women’s health. She has advised the Council of the Canadian Academies on advancing the country’s health communications. She has worked with the National Academy of Sciences on the “Science of Science Communication” and presented insights on behavioral decision making to the Arab Summit on Behavioral Economics in Beirut to improve policy.
At the Price School:
Effective health interventions require interdisciplinary teams. At the Price School and the Schaeffer Center, I will have access to excellent health experts, economists, physicians, patient representatives and others. Together we can help patients with complex health decisions,” says Dr. Bruine de Bruin.
Research Expertise: Behavioral decision making, individual difference in decision-making competence across the life span, risk perception and communication, behavior change interventions. Read bio.
How can knowledge about black market drug operations improve addiction policy?
Dr. Pacula is among the world’s top health economists in the area of substance abuse and addiction. Her investigations include the often-overlooked role of black market drug operations as a source of supply, the impact of policies on supply and demand in these markets, and the effectiveness of market regulations at reducing consumption of addictive goods. In addition, she studies how the design of health insurance and the delivery of health care improve access to and quality of addiction treatment services as well as the longer term health consequences associated with addictive consumption.
Her research also aims to demonstrate the economic value of comprehensive, wrap-around treatment plans for individuals who suffer from addiction, for example, reductions in welfare needs and contributions to the nation’s economy that successful outcomes could bring.
With the legalization of cannabis, her body of knowledge is especially useful to policy makers. She recommends legislators and decision makers consider the impact of for-profit markets where getting people “hooked” improves the bottom line of the industry operating in it. She notes that some regulation is needed to preclude, for example, what has happened with the e-cigarette industry and its mass marketing to teenagers.
With Europe moving to a not-for-profit model form of legalization for cannabis, she’s watching the ‘social clubs’ employed by Spain and the Netherlands. There people can only buy cannabis exclusively from the club in which they are a member and no mass marketing exists.
In addition to speaking with several community groups and local governments, Dr. Pacula has engaged in policy education in the states of Vermont, Washington, and Ohio as well as Canada. She will be speaking to the Florida state legislature at the end of 2019 on forms of regulation that are conducive to reducing potential health harm. She will also be attending the United Nations convention on controlled narcotics in Geneva, Switzerland in March 2020.
At the Price School:
There are structural issues that lead people to abuse substances. Dr. Pacula’s work is inherently multi-disciplinary, requiring understanding of deep complex issues. “You can only find that in a few places,” she says. “Faculty at the Price School and the Schaeffer Center are recognized experts in their academic disciplines. That was very important to me. It’s easy to get lost in policy advocacy if you don’t stay grounded in science.”
Research Expertise: Economics of addiction, market for addictive goods, addiction policy, delivery and financing of addiction treatment, cannabis and opioid policy. Read bio.