ipg houseThe Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance maintains an active program of empirical and theoretical research and learning linked to the Institute’s policy and governance-related domains of interest to achieve more fully democratic societies at all geographic scales. We engage in research, capacity building, technical outreach and community-based participatory inquiry with and on behalf of those we serve, principally disadvantaged and vulnerable populations.

The Institute’s current research and project emphases are concentrated around these policy areas:

Child and Family Social Welfare Policy Group

Governance and Civil Society Group

Public and Community Health Group

Public Policy Data Group

Community Voices

Community Voices seeks to develop community capacity for civic dialogue that generates ideas for positive change, ideas that matter.

Latest News & Events

August 31, 2015

  • Max Stephenson's latest Soundings commentary has been posted: 'Ascription by Assumption' and Democratic Politics. Thank you for reading and enjoy!
  • The first RE: Reflections and Explorations of the fall semester has been posted! Why Motivations Matter in Addressing Discriminatory Hiring Practices by Sarah Halvorson-Fried (MURP)
  • 2016 Annual Meeting – Meeting the Challenges of Development and Dignity

    June 16-18, 2016
    Fordham University

    2016 will be an important time for the United Nations, Member States and civil society as together they address the early challenges of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and as they look to finalize the aims of the World Humanitarian Summit being held in May 2016 in Istanbul.

    Each of these hallmark efforts shares a common core principle – the preservation and strengthening of human dignity. Each also calls upon and encourages states and individuals to think very differently about the theory and practice of sustainable development and humanitarianism – through robust dialogue among key stakeholders and affected communities, and devising effective solutions to ensure that the global development and humanitarian agendas are “fit for the future.”

    The 2016 Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) Annual Meeting will explore the challenges of meeting the goals of enhancing human dignity and promoting sustainable development through these initiatives. In cooperation with our host institution, Fordham University, ACUNS invites its members and interested scholars, practitioners, and students to join us in New York City for what promises to be a timely and critical debate.

    Call for Papers and Registration will be available shortly.

August 25, 2015

  • Congratulations to Jim Dubinsky (Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of English), Principal Investigator, and colleagues Bruce Pencek (College Librarian, Social Sciences & History) and Eric Hodges (PhD, PGG 2014), who have been awarded a $150,000 grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop a summer teaching institute focusing on veterans issues.

    Hodges assisted in writing the grant syllabus and proposed reading list, along with editing grant documents, and will serve as a "master teacher" for the institute. Hodges defended his dissertation in March 2014, earning his PhD in the college's Planning, Governance & Globalization (PGG) doctoral program. During his studies Eric also remained an active member of Community Voices.

    Note: this post has been edited to identify Jim Dubinsky as Principal Investigator.

August 24, 2015

  • Call for Proposals: The Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance invites 400-word abstract submissions from interested current Virginia Tech Ph.D. and Master’s degree students and Community Voices graduates describing possible chapters for a new ebook titled Social and Political Imaginaries, Cultural Claims and Community Change, to be edited by Max Stephenson Jr. and Lyusyena Kiraksoyan and published around August 2016.

    Click here to read more, including a list of possible subjects/topics for consideration.

    Due Date: October 1, 2015.

August 21, 2015

  • The Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance (VTIPG) announces the first volume in a new book series entitled: RE: Reflections and Explorations: Essays on Politics, Public Policy and Governance edited by VTIPG Director Max Stephenson Jr. and affiliated research faculty member Lyusyena Kirakosyan. The editors have selected and organized essays from the Institute’s ongoing Reflections series to which an interdisciplinary group of graduate students contribute weekly during each semester of the academic year. The new book is available in PDF and ePUB formats below. Thank you for your interest in this series and text!

August 20, 2015

  • Lyusyena Kirakosyan's manuscript entitled "Promoting Disability Rights for a Stronger Democracy in Brazil: The Role of NGOs" has been accepted for publication in the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly!

August 18, 2015

August 17, 2015

  • Orientation for all SPIA graduate programs in Blacksburg will be on Friday, August 21st!

    • [ time TBD ] CPAP students meet at Thomas Conner House
    • [ 2:00-2:45 ] SPIA-wide welcome session at University Club (begin gathering at 1:45p)
    • [ 3:00-4:00 ] CPAP returns to Thomas Conner House to continue their sessions
    • [ 3:00-4:00 ] MPIA/MURP returning students meet with new MPIA/MURP students - AA109/AA114
    • [ 3:00-4:00 ] GIA/UAP faculty meet with new PGG students - AA111
    • [ 4:00-5:00 ] GIA/UAP faculty meet with new MPIA/MURP students - AA109/AA114
    • [ 4:00-5:00 ] PGG returning students meet with new PGG students – AA111

August 3, 2015

August 1, 2015

  • A new Continuous Enrollment Policy is now in effect for graduate students. The policy requires that students be continuously enrolled in a minimum of three credit hours in all spring and fall semesters at the university, from initial enrollment through graduation, with the exception of those with approved absences. See the announcement on VT News for more details.

July 28, 2015

  • Congratulations to Rebecca Landis (Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education), whose thesis defense on July 24 was a success! Rebecca's thesis was titled "Community Food Work as Critical Practice: A Faith-based Perspective." Her committee members included: Kim Niewolny (Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education) as Committee Chair, Susan Clark (Horticulture) and Tom Archibald (Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education).

July 27, 2015

  • Congratulations to Sabith Khan (PGG), who successfully defended his dissertation July 22! Sabith's dissertation was titled "American Muslim Philanthropy in Flux: Effects on Community Building and Identity Formation." His dissertation committee included: Joyce Rothschild (Government and International Affairs) as Committee Chair, Patricia Nickel (ASPECT and Government and International Affairs), Marc Stern (Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation), and Rachel Scott (Religion and Culture).

July 21, 2015

July 20, 2015

July 15, 2015

  • Arts and Community Change: Exploring Cultural Development Policies, Practices and Dilemmas, edited by Max Stephenson and Scott Tate, is part of the Routledge Community Development Research and Practice Series. This series serves community developers, planners, public administrators and others involved in practice and policy making in the realm of community development. The series seeks to contribute to the growing and rapidly changing knowledge base as a resource for practitioners and researchers alike. Check out the flyer for series publications to date.
  • Scott Tate's essay, Reflections from a conversation on democratic practice and community development, was published in Volume 46, Issue 3 of Community Development , the official journal of the Community Development Society (CDS).

July 7, 2015

  • The latest VTIPG quarterly newsletter has been posted, Volume 4, Issue 3. Thank you to all who were a part of putting this together, and thank you for reading!

July 6, 2015

June 22, 2015

June 16, 2015

  • Call for Papers: EURAM 2016 Conference: "Manageable Cooperation?" to be held June 1-4, 2016 in Paris, France.

    The European Academy of Management (EURAM) is a professional community of engaged management scholars and reflective practitioners - open, inclusive, international and cross-cultural.

    EURAM places a strong emphasis on multidisciplinary theoretical perspectives and methodological pluralism, and promotes critical examinations of the historical and philosophical roots of management theory and praxis.

    Find out more about proposal guidelines here.
    Due Date: June 26, 2015.

June 8, 2015

June 5, 2015

May 26, 2015

May 11, 2015

May 8, 2015

  • Congratulations to Sarah Hanks, who has been accepted for a Programs and Practice Research Internship this summer with Independent Sector (leadership network for nonprofits, foundations, and corporations committed to advancing the common good). Independent Sector’s Programs and Practice department focuses on advancing sector leadership, strengthening effectiveness, and supporting greater impact and highest standards of governance and accountability in the nonprofit and philanthropic community. Sarah will support the work of the department by conducting research and analysis on selected sticky issues, contributing to Independent Sector's strategic visioning work through the development of a series of briefings on critical organizational, sector, or societal changes facing the charitable sector.

May 7, 2015

April 30, 2015

  • The next RE: Reflections and Explorations of the spring semester has been posted! Academic Freedom for Whom: Institutions or Individuals? by Jerald H. Walz (PhD candidate in Higher Education)
  • Rebecca Landis (Agricultural & Extension Ed), Garland Mason (Agricultural & Extension Ed), Anna Erwin (PGG) and Andy Morikawa (VTIPG Senior Fellow) recently interviewed Community Voices guest Tracy Kunkler (Principal at Social Profit Strategies, and co-founder of what is now Circle Forward). The podcast now available.

April 29, 2015

  • GOVERNANCE AT THE EDGE OF THE STATE: Public authority and property in conflict environments, a four-day PhD course to be held September 8-11, 2015 at the University of Copenhagen.

    Candidates can apply by sending both a 1 page CV and a 1000 words outline of the research paper they want to discuss at the course. This outline should specify how their PhD project relates to the overall theme of this course and give clear indications on the theoretical and methodological approach adopted. Applications should be sent to Susanne Weibel no later than May 1, 2015.

April 27, 2015

  • Max Stephenson's latest Soundings commentary has been posted: The Politics of “Dispossession”. Thank you for reading and enjoy!
  • Junior Beauvais (Agricultural Technology) is currently featured on Virginia Tech's home page Spotlight on INNOVATION! Full article: How Change Grows. Beauvais' efforts are making a positive impact already on the agricultural and economic challenges that resulted from the distribution of genetically modified seeds in the 1980's.

    (In 2013, Max Stephenson along with colleagues Nancy McGehee (Department Head and Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management) and Laura Zanotti (Associate Professor, Political Science, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences) assisted Beauvais in securing a scholarship to the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute (LCI) so he could come to the U.S. to study. His time spent at LCI enabled him to begin his current endeavors in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' Agricultural Technology Program.)

April 23, 2015

  • Maya Berinzon (VTIPG Research Associate) presented on "Raising the Bar: The Role of Bar Associations and Societies in Promoting Development" at the 2015 Law and Development Conference held April 17 at Tulane University.

April 19, 2015

  • Call for Papers: 2015 Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference, to be held September 8-9, 2015 at The Rose Bowl, Leeds Beckett University, UK.

    This conference draws together researchers with a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds. It will be of interest to those from wider social policy fields, welfare, labor and organizational studies as well as those with backgrounds in economics, law, geography and psychology.

    Find out more about proposal guidelines here.
    Due Date: May 8, 2015.

April 18, 2015

  • Please mark your calendars! The Public University in the 21st Century, May 1, 7:00-9:00 PM, Quillen Auditorium in Goodwin Hall (the new Engineering building at the corner of Prices Fork and Stanger)

    Featuring VT President Timothy Sands. Additional speakers include: Marc Edwards (Engineering) on public scholarship, Wat Hopkins (Communication) on academic freedom, Carol Mullen (Education) on pedagogy

    Brought to you by the newly revived VT Chapter of the AAUP (American Association of University Professors)

April 17, 2015

  • Max Stephenson will participate in the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment (ISCE) Applied Ethics Initiative Panel Discussion on “Ethics, Values, and Justice: A Spectrum of Research and Educational Activity at Virginia Tech” this Wednesday (April 20). This program will be an open discussion of current work in ethics across the university, featuring faculty from the ASPECT Program, the School of Public and International Affairs, the Department of Philosophy, and the Department of Science and Technology in Society.

April 16, 2015

April 14, 2015

  • Rebecca Landis (Master’s Student in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education), Sarah Lyon-Hill (PGG), Lorien MacAuley (PhD student in Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education) and Andy Morikawa (VTIPG Senior Fellow) recently interviewed Community Voices guest Lisa Jo Epstein (Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Gas & Electric Arts in Philadelphia, PA). The podcast now available.
  • Audio from roundtable discussion with recent Community Voices guest Lisa Jo Epstein (Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Gas & Electric Arts in Philadelphia, PA) is now available on SoundCloud:

April 13, 2015

April 9, 2015

April 6, 2015

  • The latest VTIPG quarterly newsletter has been posted, Volume 4, Issue 2. Thank you to all who were a part of putting this together, and thank you for reading!

April 3, 2015

  • Rachael Kennedy (Agricultural Extension & Education) was featured in today's VT News. Topics include Rachael's Peace Corps service in Uzbekistan, her current academic endeavors, and recent honors and awards.
  • The 21st International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM) will be held this year from June 13-18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. The theme for the 2015 ISSRM is “Understanding and Adapting to Change,” with four main focus areas encompassing a broad range of issues related to:
    • Tradition at the Edge: Changing Cultural and Historic Conditions
    • Society at the Edge: Changing Ecological Conditions
    • Cities at the Edge: Changing Urban Conditions Governance at the Edge: Changing Managerial Conditions
    Along with the typical complement of activities – e.g., student forum, quiz bowl, poster and organized sessions – the 2015 ISSRM will foster creativity and disciplinary integration through a number of thought-provoking plenaries, roundtables, media presentations, trainings and workshops, field excursions, social events, and innovative information exchange formats. Hosted for the first time in the southeastern U.S., the 2015 ISSRM offers excellent opportunities to engage with a diverse community of scholars, practitioners, and decision-makers and experience the natural and cultural heritage of the “lowcountry.”

    Registration details can be found here.

April 2, 2015

April 1, 2015

  • Max Stephenson, Sarah Halvorson-Fried (MURP), and Sarah Lyon-Hill (PGG) recently interviewed Liz Lerman (choreographer, performer, writer, educator and VT artist in residence). The podcast now available.

March 30, 2015

March 29, 2015

March 28, 2015

March 26, 2015

March 23, 2015

March 18, 2015

  • IPG affiliated master's student Beth Olberding (MURP-MIP) is in Costa Rica now in pre-service training for the Peace Corps. Beth will spend the next 2 years volunteering in the community economic development sector. Check out her blog from time to time, as she will update it when she is able!

March 17, 2015

  • Next week is Graduate Education Week. See flyer for details on events which include a Game Night, an Awards Banquet, a LinkedIn Lab, and more!

March 16, 2015

March 11, 2015

March 10, 2015

  • Rachael Kennedy (Agricultural Extension & Education) recently wrote a book review on the work 'Europeanization and Civil Society: Turkish NGOs as instruments of change?' by Markus Ketola. Rachael's book review was selected for publication in the Turkish Review!

March 9, 2015

  • Congratulations to Bryce Hoflund on recently attaining promotion and tenure (to Associate Professor) at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, School of Public Administration. Bryce was affiliated with VTIPG while pursuing her PhD at VT in the Center for Public Administration and Policy. She completed her degree in 2009.

March 3, 2015

February 27, 2015

February 26, 2015

February 25, 2015

  • Congratulations to Elizabeth (Eli) Jamison (ASPECT), who has been accepted to Virginia Tech’s Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society.

    The Bouchet Society commemorates Edward Alexander Bouchet, the first African American to earn a doctorate degree from an American university (Physics, Yale University, 1876). Virginia Tech chartered its own chapter in 2014. The society “seeks to develop a network of preeminent scholars who exemplify academic and personal excellence, foster environments of support, and serve as examples of scholarship, leadership, character, service, and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy.”1 Eli is recognized as a scholar who exemplifies these characteristics.

    Eli will also be recognized at the VT Graduate School Awards Banquet on March 26, in addition to the Graduate School's sponsored travel to the society's induction ceremony at Yale University (April 10).

February 19, 2015

February 16, 2015

  • Congratulations to Christian Matheis (ASPECT), who succesfully defended his dissertation on Friday! Christian's dissertation was titled "We Who Make One Another: Liberatory Solidarity as Relational." His dissertation committee included: Dr. Brian Britt (Chair), Dr. Barbara Ellen Smith, Dr. Michael Moehler, and Dr. P.S. Polanah.
  • Max Stephenson's latest Soundings commentary has been posted: Hatred, Fear and Human Dignity. Thank you for reading and enjoy!

February 12, 2015

February 11, 2015

  • The film Little White Lie will be screened at the Lyric on Thursday, February 26, at 7:00 pm., followed by a conversation with filmmaker Lacey Schwartz.

    Little White Lie tells Lacey Schwartz's story of growing up in a typical upper-middle-class Jewish household in Woodstock, NY, with loving parents and a strong sense of her Jewish identity—despite the open questions from those around her about how a white girl could have such dark skin. She believes her family's explanation that her looks were inherited from her dark-skinned Sicilian grandfather. At age of 18, Lacey finally confronts her mother and learns the truth: her biological father was not the man who raised her, but a African American man with whom her mother had had an affair. Lacey begins a quest to reconcile the hidden pieces of her life and embrace her African-American heritage. Little White Lie is a personal documentary about race, religion, and the legacy of family secrets. See more at: http://www.littlewhiteliethefilm.com/

    Immediately following the screening, filmmaker Lacey Schwartz will give a short talk and be available for questions and answers at a reception at the Community Community Arts Information Office (CAIO) gallery at 149 College Avenue at 9:00 pm. Light fare will be served.

    This event is sponsored by the Malcolm and Diane Rosenberg Program in Judaic Studies in the Department of Religion and Culture; the Dialogue on Race, a program of The Community Group/New Mountain Climbers Fund; Hillel at Virginia Tech; the Black Organizations Council; and the Black Student Alliance.

February 9, 2015

  • On Friday, February 13, Christian Matheis (ASPECT) will defend his dissertation, "We Who Make One Another: Liberatory Solidarity as Relational." Good luck Christian!
  • Max Stephenson's latest Soundings commentary has been posted: Anxiety, Willful Blindness and Democracy. Thank you for reading and enjoy!

February 5, 2015

Upcoming Events

Thursday, September 10, 12:00pm-1:00pm, Newman Library Room 101 - Nneoma Nwankwo presentation on "I miss school because there are no latrines" – Exploring the real costs of poor sanitation facilities for school girls in Africa [ see this and other scheduled talks from the 2015-16 Women and Gender in International Development Discussion Series ]

Friday, September 4, 3:00pm-5:00pm, University Club – New Academic Year Reception: Join SPIA in welcoming new and returning students, faculty, and staff, as well as visiting alumni, as we begin the new 2015-16 academic year. Event is free but for head count please RSVP by August 26.

Blogs & Commentaries


weekly commentary from the Director of IPG, Max Stephenson Jr.


quarterly reflection from the Director of IPG, Max Stephenson Jr.

Thriving Places Project

This project shares ideas for change, and provides resources for people interested in making positive changes in their community.

RE: Reflections and Explorations

A graduate student commentary.

Beth in Costa Rica

Master's student Beth Olberding (MURP-MIP) shares her Peace Corps experiences in Costa Rica.

Sarah in Namibia

Master's student Sarah Jonson (MPIA) shares her Peace Corps experiences in Nambia.