Public policy captures student interest


Hall Network programs work to engage and inform

Over the last 15 years, the University of Redlands’ offerings in public policy have expanded from a single course to an interdisciplinary effort enriching many aspects of the University, from internship opportunities to scholarly research.

That transformation has been in large part due to the vision of trustee Ken Hall ’60 and his wife, Lynn Hall. They have made possible both an endowed chair in public policy, currently held by Professor Greg Thorson, and the Ken and Lynn Hall Network for Innovation in Public Policy, which stimulates interest and engagement in public policy with a trifecta of programming: an ongoing speaker series, student internships, and scholarly seed grants.

“Our Hall interns are working in California, Washington, D.C., and around the globe on policy issues,” says Hall Network program head Andrew Wall, dean of the School of Education. “Through the Hall Network, our faculty are developing new policy courses, conducting research on the impact of technology on employment, and developing global research partnerships. We are deeply appreciative of the Halls’ visionary philanthropy and its impact at Redlands.”

To date, the Hall Network has sponsored events including the American Futures Conference involving Redlands Distinguished Fellow James Fallows and leaders from across the country; a talk by Peter Groff ’85, a leadership lecturer, former Colorado legislator, and former member of the Obama administration; and, most recently, a visit by legendary trial lawyer David Boies ’64 (see page 34).

Hall interns have included:

  • Veronica Knutson ’18, a double major in public policy and creative writing, who worked with Rep. Pete Aguilar ’01 and his team; she describes the experience as one of the most formative aspects of
    her education.
  • Educational advocate and Ed.D. candidate Sophie Vogel ’18, who interned with the Denver Scholarship Foundation to support students with college access and success.
  • Ben Purper ’17, an international relations major, who worked as an intern at local National Public Radio station KVCR—an opportunity that led to a full-time job upon graduation.
  • Sera Gearhart ’19, a public policy major who hopes one day to work for the World Health Organization and is currently exploring internship opportunities.

Renee Van Vechten, professor of political science, recently received a Hall scholarly seed grant in support of a new course, Food Politics and Policy. The course will explore the relationship between advanced economic systems and reliable access to nutritious food, which she believes is of “increasing relevance in a globalized and interconnected world.”

Another Hall scholarly seed grant is supporting the efforts of six professors—Amber Bechard, Kim Coles, John Glover, James Krueger, and Eric McLaughlin—to create a Southern Africa Corridor-themed framework for classes, faculty and student research, internships, and other opportunities. Beyond the focus on the region connecting the city of Johannesburg and the Kingdom of Swaziland, the work focuses on themes of health, education, and humanitarianism, drawing on the University’s strength in geographic information systems (GIS).

Are all these activities having an impact on students? “Our public policy major launched in 2013–14 and has experienced explosive growth,” Thorson says. “We now have 78 majors and minors, an increase of 50 percent from a year ago!”


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