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

April 3, 2017

  • The latest VTIPG quarterly newsletter has been posted, Volume 6, Issue 2 [mobile version]. Thank you to all who were a part of putting this together, and thank you for reading!

March 30, 2017

March 27, 2017

March 23, 2017

March 13, 2017

March 2, 2017

February 27, 2017

February 16, 2017

February 13, 2017

February 9, 2017

  • At the end of February, IPG staff member, Mary Beth Keenan and her husband, John will depart for a 10 week service immersion trip to Peru. They will live and serve in solidarity with the Sisters of Bon Secours and the people of the town of Huacho, in the Ancash Region of Peru. They will focus on understanding and witnessing the Peruvian way of life, while contributing to the ongoing work on water quality, sanitation, and youth development. They are the first North American young adults to make such a trip and hope to cultivate relationships and open the door for future trips.

    Pictured above: Mary Beth Keenan (AmeriCorps Reading Hour Coordinator), David Moore (VTIPG Senior Research Associate)

February 7, 2017

  • The next RE: Reflections and Explorations has been posted! Musings on The Human-Ecology Imaginary by Rachael Kennedy (Doctoral Candidate/ABD in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education)

February 1, 2017

  • Pictured above: Ramón Zepeda (Program Director, Student Action with Farmworkers), Anna Erwin, (PGG) and Dr. Max Stephenson, (Director, VTIPG)

    Last week VTIPG welcomed Ramón Zepeda as a part of the spring 2017 Community Voices speaker series. Originally from Jalisco, Mexico, Ramón shared his immigration story, his experience with labor organizing and his work using community-based theater with farmworkers. His inspirational presentations and radio interview addressed the capacity of the arts to enliven individuals’ sense of agency and possibility and to seed conditions for social change, the complexities of immigration and farm work in the United States and the challenges of policy advocacy. Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF) operates a paid summer internship program for bi-lingual students (in English and Spanish) and is accepting applications until February 4, 2017.

January 30, 2017

January 23, 2017

  • The latest VTIPG quarterly newsletter has been posted, Volume 6, Issue 1 [mobile version]. Thank you to all who were a part of putting this together, and thank you for reading!

January 18, 2017

  • Community Voices speaker Ramón Zepeda was featured on VT News today. Ramón will be on campus on Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 for 2 events - a round table luncheon and an evening lecture. For more information please visit the event page on communityvoices.info.

January 17, 2017

January 4, 2017

  • Congratulations to Jordan Laney (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.” Jordan is recognized as a scholar who exemplifies the society's mission and values.

January 3, 2017

January 1, 2017

December 30, 2016

  • The Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM) is now accepting proposal submissions for the 2017 International Conference: Public Policy and Governance Beyond Borders, to be held July 13-14, 2017, in Brussels, Belgium.

    The conference hosts invite researchers, analysts, and policymakers to critically reflect on their experiences of working on issues of public policy and governance beyond borders. Proposals are requested for single papers, panels, roundtables, or posters in the following nine policy areas:

    • Education and Employment in a Global Market
    • Social Protection, Equity and Human Rights
    • Poverty, Income and Impacts on Health
    • Global Politics and Foreign Policy
    • Conflict, Crisis, Community and
    • Peace-building
    • Population, Migration and Refugees
    • Multilevel Governance, Federalism, and Regional Cooperation
    • Entrepreneurship and Innovation Science, Technology and Methods

    The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2017. Please find further details including submission guidelines here.

December 22, 2016

  • Mary Beth Keenan (Virginia Tech alumnae and AmeriCorps Reading Hour Coordinator at VTIPG) was featured in VT News yesterday! The article is about I WILL, a new leadership education initiative focused on Inspiring Women in Lifelong Leadership (I WILL). Mary Beth and Holly Means, also featured in this article, are council members at IWILL.

    I WILL continues the Elizabeth A. "Betsy" Flanagan Women in Leadership and Philanthropy (WLP) Endowed Lecture Fund legacy by awarding these funds semi-annually to assist university program developers in securing high-profile speakers for educational or public information programs that are open and free to the university community.

    The full VT News article can be found here, as well as the full interview with Mary Beth.

December 21, 2016

  • VTIPG noted a recent milestone with Sarah Jonson (MPIA) successfully defending her thesis on Wednesday, December 7. Sarah is the 50th Master’s student to complete her work for committees VTIPG Director Max Stephenson has chaired.

    The title of Sarah’s thesis was "Occupational segregation in Namibia: Women's experience doing ‘men's work’ in the construction and manufacturing industries." In addition to Max Stephenson serving as committee chair, other committee members were Laura Zanotti (Political Science) and Denise Simmons (Myers-Lawson School of Construction).

    Congratulations to Sarah on her successful defense!

December 15, 2016

  • David Moore (CPAP PhD student and VTIPG Senior Research Associate) successfully defended his dissertation proposal on December 5.
  • Cheryl Montgomery (PGG) successfully defended her preliminary examination on December 6. VTIPG Director Max Stephenson serves as Cheryl’s committee chair.

December 13, 2016

  • The latest issue of SPECTRA: The ASPECT journal (Vol. 5, No. 2) was recently published.

    SPECTRA is a graduate student-run, peer reviewed scholarly journal hosted at Virginia Tech. The journal features work of an interdisciplinary nature and is designed to provide an academic forum to explore controversial topics and take intellectual risks.

December 12, 2016

December 6, 2016

  • VTIPG is excited to announce the launch of Community Change, an online, peer reviewed, graduate student journal that seeks to explore multiple approaches to democratic community development and change.

    Community Change editors are currently seeking paper submissions for the inaugural issue, which seeks to unpack the notion of 'community change'—its complexities, transformations, and challenges in recent decades of intensified economic, environmental, and political instabilities.

    Please find more details about this journal and the upcoming issue on the call for papers. Submission guidelines can be found here. The submission deadline is Friday, January 13, 2017.

December 5, 2016

  • Max Stephenson's latest Soundings commentary has been posted: Defining Democratic Legitimacy Down.

    Note to Readers: Soundings will next appear on January 2, 2017. Happy Holidays and best wishes to you and yours! MOS

November 28, 2016

November 17, 2016

  • The 100th RE: Reflections and Explorations has been posted! Protecting Cultural Property and Heritage Sites During Conflict by Ashleigh Breske (PGG)

    Note to Readers from Max Stephenson (VTIPG Director and Editor for the Reflections series):

    Dear Readers,

    Today’s RE: Reflections and Explorations marks a milestone: publication of the 100th essay in this series. I would like to thank all of those who have contributed their time and talents to what has emerged as a high quality, salient and multi-disciplinary body of work addressing a disparate array of governance topics at all analytic scales. This collection of essays, which has already produced one edited volume, reflects the intellectual diversity, depth, vitality and imagination of the graduate student community interested in governance and policy making at this institution. It is a special privilege to edit their work each week and to learn of the wide range and high quality of such research now underway at Virginia Tech.

    I also want to thank Dr. Lyusyena Kirakosyan (ASPECT, 2013) once more for developing the idea for the series and ensuring that it came to fruition. It surely constitutes a special gift to participating students and the intellectual community of the Institute for Policy and Governance and Virginia Tech of which she and all who have contributed to this series will always be a part. MOS

November 14, 2016

  • Max Stephenson's latest Soundings commentary has been posted: A Nest of Paradoxes

    Note to Readers from Max Stephenson:

    I have elected to post this commentary earlier than the regular publication date of November 21, 2016, as it addresses the nation’s recent election. Since that is so, I wanted the effort to be available in a timely way. Soundings will next appear on December 5, 2016. Best wishes, MOS

November 14, 2016

  • Max Stephenson's latest Soundings commentary has been posted: Leonard Cohen: A Villanelle for our Time (reposted from 2012)

    Note to Readers from Max Stephenson:

    A reader wrote, following Leonard Cohen’s death on November 7, 2016, that he found the April 23, 2012 Soundings reprinted here helpful as he reflected on the legendary singer-songwriter’s legacy and on the results of our November 8 national election. His words encouraged me to share it once more. Cohen’s poetry and music were (and are) very important to me, and Cohen and Frank Scott’s Villanelle addressing democratic possibility has long haunted me. I hope my musings concerning this poignant poem help others as they consider how they will move forward in the wake of our country’s recently concluded and deeply divisive presidential campaign and election.

    - MOS

November 11, 2016

November 8, 2016

  • Your Vote Counts! It's Election Day! Resources for Virginia voters can be found here.

November 7, 2016

November 1, 2016

October 28, 2016

  • Recent RE: Reflections and Explorations by Lyusyena Kirakosyan (VTIPG Senior Project Associate) - What is Special about Paralympic Volunteering? - Now with an introduction from our Director, Max Stephenson. This entry also includes a short video clip where volunteers describe and share their volunteer experience. Thank you for reading (and watching) - please enjoy!

October 24, 2016

October 20, 2016

October 13, 2016

October 10, 2016

October 7, 2016

  • The latest VTIPG quarterly newsletter has been posted, Volume 5, Issue 4 [mobile version]. Thank you to all who were a part of putting this together, and thank you for reading!

September 26, 2016

September 22, 2016

September 20, 2016

  • Call for Submissions and Reviewers: Special Series On Communication in Transdisciplinary Science: Challenges, Perspectives, and the Future

    Informing Science: The International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline (InformingSciJ) is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes scholarly articles that provide an understanding of the complexities in informing clientele.

    The purpose of this special issue is to document and disseminate what contemporary scholarship knows about communication in transdisciplinary scientific contexts. It is to share knowledge about the communication challenges and insights about how to promote effective communication in collaborative settings. The goal of the special series is to bring forth new ideas and perspectives on communication in collaborative contexts. Also welcomed are articles that identify and explore underrepresented topics in communication in transdisciplinary science.

    Abstract submissions (500 words) are due January 31, 2017. More information such as topic guidance can be found here.

September 16, 2016

September 12, 2016

September 8, 2016

September 1, 2016

  • Call for Papers: 2017 Annual Meeting of the Public Administration Theory Network
    Tension and Transition: The New Frontiers of Public Administration

    The Public Administration Theory Network requests papers for its 2017 Annual Conference that explore the tension between stability and possibility within the practices and theories of public administration. Panel and paper proposals that track along the conference theme and/or any of the following new frontiers within public administration are welcomed:

    • New forms and uses of technologies (biometrics, surveillance, etc)
    • Emerging and shifting definitions of identity (gender, race, class)
    • Geographic frontiers of public administration
    • Broadening research questions to counter the tendency towards research narrowness
    • The possibilities for citizen participation and engagement
    • Social movements and citizen protest
    • The tensions or complementaries between globalization and cosmopolitanism
    • (Re)negotiating the urban/rural divide
    • Secularism and religion in political practices and expressions
    • Disciplinary and interdisciplinary forms of knowledge(s)
    • Institutional practices of democracy
    The 2017 Annual Conference will be held June 1-4, 2017 in Laramie, Wyoming. The submission deadline is Monday, November 14, 2016. More information can be found on the conference flyer or the conference website.

August 31, 2016

August 30, 2016

  • David Moore (VTIPG Senior Project Associate) has assumed new responsibilities this fall as Project Director for Total Action for Progress (TAP) SwiftStart. The SwiftStart project aims to enable more working parents in southwestern Virginia to have career pathways leading to higher wage jobs by addressing barriers around participating in and completing training, and in finding and acquiring affordable, quality child care while attending skills training programs. David also continues his responsibilities as Program Director for AmeriCorps Reading Hour Program, alongside this new endeavor.

August 29, 2016

August 25, 2016

  • Twenty-five young community leaders from Africa spent six weeks at Virginia Tech this summer for intensive hands-on civic leadership training organized by the Language and Culture Insititue (LCI) in partnership with the IPG. They were part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the flagship program of President Barack Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative.

    The program included visits to local community and government offices, trips to Richmond and Charlottesville, and opportunities for social engagement and community service. At the end of the program, Back and the Virginia Tech fellows joined other fellows from across the country for a presidential summit in Washington.

August 18, 2016

  • VTIPG Senior Program Director Mary Beth Dunkenberger, along with VTIPG colleague Nancy White, and former colleagues, Suzanne Lo, Holly Lesko, have published Community-Responsive Behavioral Health Research: Translating Data for Public Consumption and Decision Making Abstract in the Spring 2016 Volume of Community Development Society.

    The article was written in collaboration with Michigan State partners participating in the Community Assessment and Education to Promote Behavioral Health Planning and Evaluation (CAPE) project. CAPE is a partnership between SAMHSA, USDA NIFA, and the Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDC).

August 17, 2016

  • Virginia Tech recently hosted 25 Mandela Fellows from various countries in Africa. They attended various classes, events and local outings from June until July 30. At the end of their visit, a final Presentation/Graduation was held at the Language and Culture Institute (LCI) annex.

August 16, 2016

  • A Dialogue on Food, Farming, and Hope in Southwest Virginia met at the Draper Mercantile in Draper on August 3rd, 2016, for a community storytelling event. The Dialogue on Food, Farming, and Hope is an open opportunity to raise and discuss the critical issues of food system change in the region. This evening of storytelling focused on generating a process of individual and collective learning to keep us moving toward a viable and equitable food and farming system in southwest Virginia.

    Please view the Southwest Virginia Community Food Security Assessment Report to learn more about the process and programming of the Appalachian Virginia Food Systems Network (AVFSN) and more. Please also visit the Stories of Community Food Work initiative of the Appalachian Foodshed Project. For questions, please contact Kim Niewolny (niewolny@vt.edu) or Kelli Scott (kescott1@vt.edu).

  • Maya Berinzon (VTIPG Research Associate) and Ryan Briggs (Assistant Professor, Political Science) have recently had an article published in the American Journal of Comparative Law, the top journal in comparative law. The article, "Legal Families Without the Laws: The Fading of Colonial Law in French West Africa," uses computational methods to analyze how the criminal codes of seven former French West African colonies have shifted since decolonization. The codes have changed dramatically, calling into question claims about the persistence of colonial influence over law. The article can be accessed here.

August 15, 2016

August 12, 2016

  • Congratulations to Sarah Crowder Orren, who was recently promoted to the Director of Marketing & Events at The Blacksburg Partnership. She has been employed there since March 2014. Sarah graduated from Virginia Tech with a BA in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations in 2010. In 2016 she received her graduate certification in Non-Profit & Non-Governmental Organization Management.

August 8, 2016

  • The Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM) is currently accepting proposals for caucus sessions at the 2016 APPAM Fall Research Conference, The Role of Research in Making Government More Effective, to be held November 3-5, 2016 in Washington, DC.

    The APPAM Fall Research Conference is a multi-disciplinary annual research conference that attracts the highest quality research on a wide variety of important current and emerging policy and management issues. The conference is comprised of panels, roundtables, workshops, symposia, and poster presentations and is designed to encourage substantive interaction among participants.

    Proposals must include the following details:

    • Submitter information
    • Caucus title
    • Explain why the proposed caucus is beneficial to conference participants
    • The expected focus of the caucus
    • The intended audience for the caucus
    • How the caucus is topical or "cutting edge"
    • Moderator/Speaker information

    Details on submission requirements and process can be found here. Submissions will be accepted until September 9, 2016.

July 27, 2016

  • Marcy Schnitzer, Virginia Tech’s associate director for diversity strategic planning and improvement, was recently named assistant provost for diversity and strategic planning. Congratulations Marcy!

    Marcy obtained her PhD in November 2010 and was also awarded the Richard E. Zody Outstanding dissertation award in the School of Public and International Affairs for the 2010-11 year. Marcy's s dissertation was entitled "Actually Existing Democracy and Energy Justice: The Case of the Coalfields Delegation to the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development." VTIPG Director Max Stephenson served as chairperson of Marcy's doctoral advisory committee. Committee members included Carol Bailey (VT Sociology), Wolfgang Natter (Saint Bonaventure University) and Richard Rich (VT Political Science).

July 25, 2016

  • Call for Papers: 2nd Public and Political Leadership (PUPOL) conference to be held at The Open University in Milton Keynes (UK) April 6-7, 2017.

    The theme of the conference is "Leadership for Public and Social Value" and the organizers will develop a proposal for a special issue in a leading international academic journal, based on the best accepted full papers. The first conference was successfully held at Radboud University, Nijmegen (NL) in April 2016. The conference is small and provides good time for each paper to be fully discussed with colleagues.

    Abstracts (500 words) are due November 15, 2016. Informal enquiries can be made to alessandro.sancino@open.ac.uk

    For more information, click here.

July 18, 2016

July 5, 2016

  • The latest VTIPG quarterly newsletter has been posted, Volume 5, Issue 3 [mobile version]. Thank you to all who were a part of putting this together, and thank you for reading!

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Blogs & Commentaries


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


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

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.

Nathan in China

Master's student Nathan Corso (MIP) shares his Peace Corps experiences in China.