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Michigan State University's Institute for Public Policy and Social Research announced six new policy-relevant research projects to be supported by the 2018-19 Michigan Applied Public Policy Research (MAPPR) grants. Each of the projects seek fact-based information on key concerns of communities, and are being discussed among legislative leaders. The research culminates in a policy brief addressed to policy makers and community stakeholders, and posted on line as public information. More than 30 proposals were submitted to the competitive grant program. Topics represent a broad array of legislative interests including school safety and education quality, municipal finance and autonomous vehicle adaption, Great Lakes threats and cultural bias. Research projects administered through the program run for one year.

The following research projects have been selected for 2018- 2019 MAPPR grant awards:

Substitute Teaching Shortage
Exploring Substitute Teaching in Michigan

The purpose of this project is to develop a richer understanding of the perceived substitute teaching shortage in Michigan through the collection of qualitative and quantitative data. Michigan is particularly suitable for this research with its relatively high employment of substitute teachers (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016). This project will serve as a baseline for further work on the relatively underdeveloped research base on the substitute teacher labor market. The research team will collaborate with MASA staff in developing, testing, and deploying survey instruments, while the MASA will facilitate data collection. This research will foster researcher-practitioner collaborations, strengthen the quality of the research design, and support research-based policymaking.

Contact: Nathan Burroughs, Senior Research Associate, Center for the Study of Curriculum, College of Education,
Jaqueline Gardner, Data Specialist, Office of K-12 Outreach, College of Education

Affordable Housing
Spatial Mismatch in Housing and Employment: A Tool for Targeted Intervention in Michigan Neighborhoods

Presently, affordable housing is out of reach for low- or moderate-income households in many Michigan counties (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2017; United Way, 2014), and a number of cities and regions now face critical challenges in regards to ensuring an adequate supply of affordably priced housing for the current workforce (Ottawa Housing Next, 2017; Traverse City Workforce Affordable Housing Ad Hoc Committee, 2008). One potential driver of these challenges is the spatial mismatch between employment and housing opportunities for residents in the state, which contributes to residential segregation, stagnant wages, and unemployment (Ihlanfeldt and Sjoquist, 1998). This research aims to build an ArcGIS mapping tool and accompanying report to inform communities and policy leaders on this issue.

Contact: Noah J. Durst, Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, School of Planning, Design & Construction, College of Social Science,

Great Lakes Health
Line 5: Oil Spill Detection, Remediation, and Risk Perceptions in Winter Conditions

The project will examine the social perceptions of and physical risks associated with Line 5, an increasingly contentious oil transport pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. Specifically, this research will (1) provide insight into the public’s and decision-makers’ perceptions of the risks associated with a Line 5 underwater oil spill via surveys, focus groups, and agent-based modeling, which will be informed by (2) preliminary laboratory experiments that investigate how oil accumulates and spreads beneath ice in the winter season, which has not been previously studied. The findings from this research will have critical implications for identifying best practices and developing spill remediation policy for the State of Michigan.

Contact: Grant Gunn, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Environment & Spatial Sciences, College of Social Science,
Doug Bessette, Assistant Professor, Community Sustainability
Robert Richardson, Associate Professor, Community Sustainability
Michelle Rutty, Assistant Professor, Community Sustainability
Volodymyr Tarabara, Professor, Environmental Engineering and ESPP 39

School Safety
Crime-Prevention through Environmental Design for Public Schools in Michigan: An Assessment of Safe School Environments and Suggestions for Public Policy

This research aims (1) to assess if current school buildings and campuses comply with the safe school design guidelines and (2) to collect input for creating safer school environments. Safe school design guidelines will be developed based on the principles from the crime-prevention through environmental design (CPTED) and defensible space theory. Existing guidelines such as the CPTED for schools guidelines from across the U.S. and other countries will be reviewed and integrated for the school assessment. A thorough review of the theory-based principles and existing guidelines for creating safe school environments will help to develop comprehensive design guidelines for Michigan schools. The ultimate goal of this research is to suggest policy directions for enhancing safe school environments in Michigan.

Contact: Suk-Kyung Kim, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Interior Design Program, School of Planning, Design, & Construction, College of Social Science,
Linda Nubani, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Interior Design, School of Planning, Design, & Construction
Jun-Hyun Kim, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture, School of Planning, Design, & Construction
Tongbin Teresa Qu, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Urban and Regional Planning, School of Planning, Design, & Construction

School Reform Review
Partnership Reform: Turning around Michigan Schools

The problem of failing schools is ubiquitous across the United States. Michigan provides an opportunity for deep study of school failure and turnaround reform efforts. School turnaround strategies employ various interventions intended to address systemic needs and quickly improve academic outcomes in the lowest performing schools. Quantitative analyses will test whether partnership reforms are associated with changes in academic and other outcomes; Qualitative analyses will work to explain the nature of these changes, including why and how these changes might affect outcomes of interest, and; Case studies will help to identify school, district, and state contextual factors and strategies that mediate the efficacy of the turnaround Partnership model.

Contact: Chris Torres, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Administration, College of Education,
Katharine Strunk, Ph.D., Professor and Erickson Distinguished Chair; Co-Director, Education Policy Innovation Collaborative; College of Education
Joshua Cowen, Ph.D., Associate professor of education policy, Founder & co-director of the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC)

Municipal Fiscal Health
Deploying a Fiscal Stress Indicator System for Michigan Local Governments

This project will (1) complete fiscal data collection for villages and townships; (2) employ statistical techniques to identify early warning indicators and test the validity of these indicators by using them to predict local governments’ deficits; (3) work with the Department of Treasury to implement the system including developing the appropriate set of actions to take when a distressed community is identified, and; (4) develop case studies on what other states have done to address fiscal distress or emergency situations.

Contact: Mary Schulz, Associate Director, MSUE Center for Local Government Finance & Policy,
Eric Scorsone, Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics
Shu Wang, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics

MAPPR 2017-2018 – All policy briefs resulting from the following projects are expected to be posted by or before September 2018.

Autonomous Vehicles: Understanding Michigander Perceptions for Policymaking

This research presents the tradeoffs Michiganders will face from innovations in autonomous driving technology. The major barriers—whether financial, safety related, or social—that automobile manufacturers must overcome in order to foster broad adoption are discerned. By gauging the rate of adoption, this research helps policymakers to better anticipate changes in the industry. Second, Michiganders learn the potential benefits and risks related to AV adoption.

Shelia R. Cotten, Professor, Media & Information, College of Communication Arts & Sciences
Aleksandr Yankelevich, Assistant Professor, Media & Information, College of Communication Arts & Sciences

Developing a Fiscal Stress Indicator Model for Michigan Local Governments

The purpose of this research is to update and revise a previously used fiscal distress indicator system for Michigan local governments that could identify instances of fiscal distress. The specific research question is whether a fiscal distress indicator system model can be built to correctly identify at its early stages the emergence of a severe fiscal crisis in a local government.

Robert Kleine, Interim Director, MSUE Center for Local Government Finance and Policy
Mary Schulz, Associate Director, MSUE Center for Local Government Finance & Policy
Eric Scorsone, Deputy Treasurer for State of Michigan on leave from MSU ‐‐ Consultant

Criminal Justice
Improving Public Policy to Combat the Opioid Epidemic in Michigan

The proposed research engages Michigan law enforcement narcotics investigators and county prosecuting attorneys to identify best practices as well as barriers that exist to successfully investigating and prosecuting heroin and opioid dealers. Research findings inform law enforcement officials and policy makers during their effort to improve the resources and legislative tools necessary to reduce the harm, expense, and consumption of resources caused by the illegal sale and use of destructive drugs.

Juli Liebler, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, MSU School of Criminal Justice

Water Quality
Perceptions of Water Quality, Quantity and Access in Michigan

This research seeks Michigan residents’ perception of water quality, quantity and access. Public perception relates to public satisfaction with water management decisions, satisfaction with and trust of drinking water providers, and the eventual success or failure of efforts to address water problems through compliance or opposition. Further, questions about how many of these issues are unique to the state of Michigan and how they might compare with public views in other states facing similar issues provides input to the decision process of policy leaders.

Sandra T. Marquart-Pyatt, Professor, Dept. of Sociology, Environmental Science & Policy Program; Riva C. H. Denny, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Sociology

Teacher Education
Supporting Public School Great Start Readiness Teachers in Michigan

This study addresses a knowledge gap that is important to policy makers as they consider how best to provide pre-K education. Through an investigation of Michigan GSRP teachers’ experiences, the study will distill the factors that contribute to the teachers’ job satisfaction, well-being, and retention. The results link with considerations for ensuring program quality.

Dr. Bethany Wilinski, Assistant Professor, Department of Teacher Education

Energy Transitions
Understanding Public Opinion on Energy Transitions in Michigan

This research considers opinions more specific to the changes underway in Michigan energy transitions that could influence the integrated resource planning process through the Public Service Commission. The end report focuses on providing input into the Michigan Public Service Commission’s evaluation of utility integrated resource plans and decision-making on renewable energy adoption.

Sharlissa Moore, James Madison College, Civil & Environmental Engineering;
Annick Anctil, Civil & Environmental Engineering

Medicaid Expansion Review
Impacts of Medicaid Expansion on Pre-conception and Pregnancy Health in MI

This research helps policy makers understand how a policy designed to improve health insurance coverage, access, and utilization among young adults—i.e., Medicaid expansion under the ACA—influenced the health of women prior to and during pregnancy, and the health outcomes of their pregnancies.

Claire Margerison-Zilko, Assistant Professor, Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Additional information, as well as a list of previously funded MAPPR projects and reports, are posted here as well. Questions regarding the proposal or grant process may be directed to AnnMarie Schneider ( Please contact us in advance regarding budget preparation for projects that involve the Office of Survey Research or the State of the State Survey.

Additional MAPPR Grant Information Available Here (.pdf)