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Public Policy Research Projects

The Center for Public Policy is a research unit as well as an academic unit that offers a Master of Science in Public Policy and a Master of Science in Environmental Policy. We are especially active in the areas of community economic development, urban initiatives, and urban sustainability.

As part of our research initiatives, the Center for Public Policy publishes Drexel Policy Notes 2-3 times per year.

Past Events & Collaborations

The Center for Public Policy is especially active in the areas of community economic development, urban initiatives, and urban sustainability.


The Center for Public Policy hosted a lunchtime panel on February 19, 2015 for experts on immigration policy with Joe Torsella, Distinguished Visiting Scholar of Public Policy in Drexel’s Center for Public Policy, former US ambassador to the UN and former CEO of the Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Torsella had written a brief statement on immigration, “Immigration Focus can Help Boost PA Economy” that was published as an editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer on December 18, 2014. Invitees included Mimi Sheller, professor of sociology and director of the Center for Mobilities Research and Policy, Nicholas Montalto, president of Diversity Dynamics, LLC, and leaders from the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, including Anne O’Callaghan, founder, Petere Gonzales, president and CEO, and Anuj Gupta, vice chair of the board. Each attendee wrote and discussed each others’ response papers to the editorial.

The third volume of Drexel Policy Notes will be published this summer on the subject of Immigration and Economic, an edited compilation of these papers.

Urban Informatics

Symposium on Urban Informatics: Exploring Smarter Cities

The Center for Public Policy, in collaboration with Drexel's College of Computing and Informatics, hosted a symposium on Urban Informatics in June 2013.

For more information, please visit the Symposium website.

Urban Sustainability

Our work with The Academy of Natural Sciences' Center for Environmental Policy

The Center for Public Policy works in conjunction with the Center for Environmental Policy at The Academy of Natural Sciences to present evening Town Square programs and Urban Sustainability Forums on environmental and sustainability issues. All programs are free and open to the public.

For more information, please visit the Academy's Center for Environmental Policy.

Community Economic Development

Our work with Philadelphia Business Improvement Districts

In 2010 the Center for Public Policy and the School of Law hosted a one-day symposium on Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in Philadelphia. The symposium, "Business Improvement Districts and the Evolution of Urban Governance", provided an opportunity for BID directors, staff and board members, as well as city officials, economic development professionals and scholars to explore the role that BIDs have played in shaping local economic development here in Philadelphia. This conference laid the framework for the Center for Public Policy's continued research in the area of local economic development, particularly with respect to Business Improvement Districts and commercial corridor development in Philadelphia. Case studies on Philadelphia's sixteen business improvement districts were published in the Drexel Law Review (Fall 2010 - Volume 3, Number 1) as a result of the symposium.

From February to December 2011, the Center for Public Policy hosted and facilitated a yearlong professional development series for directors and staff of the city's existing Business Improvement Districts. The program, which was funded by the Philadelphia Department of Commerce, resulted in a guidebook: Starting a Business Improvement District in Philadelphia [PDF]. The guidebook was developed as a resource for individuals and groups hoping to learn more about the process of creating and re-authorizing Business Improvement Districts in Philadelphia.

Our work with cooperatives

On November 15, 2014, the Center for Public Policy hosted the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance‘s first annual membership meeting. PACA elected their first board of directors that day and the Center distributed the first issue of Drexel Policy Notes, Vol. 1. Issue 1 [PDF], on the theme of Cooperatives.

On June 13, 2012, two hundred people participated in a successful one-day conference at Drexel University, in partnership with the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, which explored what the urban areas of Philadelphia and Madison, and rural areas in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, can learn from one another about building cooperatives and cooperative networks, and what cooperatives contribute to cities, regions, and states.

Speakers included:

  • Gar Alperovitz, Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy, University of Maryland
  • Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), author of the National Cooperative Development Act of 2011 (H.R. 3677)
  • Paul Soglin, Mayor, City of Madison, Wisconsin
  • Michael Swack, Professor of Economics and Management, Carsey Institute, University of New Hampshire
  • Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Associate Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development, John Jay College Department of African American Studies
  • Steve Dubb, Research Director, The Democracy Collaborative

The conference included breakout sessions and workshops that examined specific cooperatives in detail, comparing those in Pennsylvania (mostly from Philadelphia) and those in Wisconsin (mostly from Madison). Research will be published by the University of Wisconsin Extension.

Our work with West Philadelphia Commercial Corridors

Throughout 2012, Drexel University's Center for Public Policy partnered with the Local Initiatives Support Council (LISC), SCI-West and The Enterprise Center to facilitate the SCI-West Corridors Connect certificate program, linking business association leaders from commercial corridors in West Philadelphia to training and assistance to help strengthen their organizations and bring new businesses and customers to their corridors.

The goal of Corridors Connect was to convene and strengthen business associations on each of six West Philadelphia commercial corridors:

  • Lancaster Avenue, from 34th to 44th Street
  • Baltimore Avenue, from 43rd to 50th Street
  • 52nd Street, from Baltimore Avenue to Arch Street
  • 60th Street, from Catherine to Arch Streets
  • 48th and Spruce Streets/45th and Walnut Streets
  • 40th Street, between Market and Locust Streets