Princeton's School of Public and International Affairs to launch New Jersey public policy initiative

Robertson Hall, home of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.

The Princeton School of Public and International Affairs will launch its SPIA in New Jersey initiative with a half-day of presentations and panel discussions the morning of Friday, April 28. The event begins at 9 a.m. in Arthur Lewis Auditorium in Robertson Hall and is open to the public.

Built around robust programing with partners statewide, SPIA in New Jersey focuses on research-based public policy that advances racial, social and economic justice in the Garden State. The initiative is an outgrowth of Dean Amaney Jamal’s stated strategic goal of increasing SPIA’s reach and impact in its home state.

“New Jersey is one of the most populous and influential states in the union, and its most densely populated," said Jamal, who is also the Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Politics. "We are proud of the myriad strengths of our home state and also clear-eyed about the challenges it faces. I believe SPIA has an obligation to bring to bear its significant intellectual resources to better the lives of our neighbors."

Keynote remarks at the launch will be delivered by Stuart Rabner, chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, and former state Attorney General John Farmer, now director of Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics.

The panel discussions include:

"Mount Laurel at 40: The Past and Future of Affordable Housing"

  • Moderator: Matt Mleczko, SPIA Ph.D. candidate
  • Adam Gordon, Fair Share Housing Center
  • Michéle Delisfort, Union Township Council
  • David Kinsey, visiting lecturer in public and international affairs

“Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis in New Jersey”

  • Moderator: Heather Howard, co-director, Center for Health and Wellbeing, SPIA
  • Lisa Asare, New Jersey deputy human services commissioner
  • Elizabeth Armstrong, associate professor of sociology and public affairs, SPIA
  • Clarke Wheeler, National Women’s Law Center
  • Sadaf Jaffer, state assemblywoman (D-16)

In addition, SPIA alumnus Richard Roper will offer reflections on his 12 years of running the school’s former Council on New Jersey Affairs.

According to Anastasia Mann, the founding director of SPIA in New Jersey, the program takes a justice-centered approach to public policy questions that matter in the lives of residents of Princeton’s home state. At its heart is a bipartisan approach to promote policies that foster racial, economic and social justice in the state.

"Whether it’s climate, healthcare, housing, immigration, education, public finance,or any number of other issue areas, SPIA faculty, students and researchers are teaming up with partners statewide to ask hard questions and find policy solutions," said Mann, a lecturer in SPIA and Freshman Seminars. "Cross-fertilization among researchers, advocates, organizers, policymakers, and elected officials are the centerpiece of this approach.”

Activities already underway include internships, fellowships, classroom visits, invited lectures,and collaborative research endeavors connecting SPIA with New Jersey’s thriving higher education, business, academic, philanthropic and faith-based sectors, as well as with state and local government.