The Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs hopes to strengthen U.S. manufacturing by launching a public policy initiative. It will include a 2016 conference on manufacturing, public policy and the presidential election.

April 14, 2015

News Release

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs is spearheading a multi-dimensional public policy effort to study challenges facing U.S. manufacturing and recommend strategies that will strengthen the industrial sector.

The initiative will draw on SPEA’s expertise in public and environmental policy as well as international trade, entrepreneurship, regulatory analysis and other disciplines. It will also tap into the expertise of other academic institutions with discussions about potential collaborations now underway.

SPEA Dean John D. Graham said the initiative will focus on three fundamental questions:

– Why has the U.S. lost much of its manufacturing base?

– What public-policy and private-sector steps would buttress industry?

– Why are some areas of U.S. manufacturing thriving while others are declining?

Estimates of manufacturing job loss since the turn of the century vary, but one Bureau of Labor Statistics report puts the number at 6 million between 2000 and 2009.

“Government leaders at the local, state and federal level have talked about strengthening manufacturing, but there has not been enough careful academic review and analysis of the reasons for the decline,” Graham said. “Our goal is to pinpoint best practices and solutions, and we’re eager to get started.”

In the short term, SPEA will establish an advisory board of experts in the manufacturing and public policy community. The school will sponsor a workshop late this year to bring together researchers, practitioners and policymakers. Participants will focus on international trade, energy policy, tax policy, regulatory policy, and a perceived skills gap that leaves American manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage.

“International trade is a key issue,” said Gilbert B. Kaplan, an international trade partner at the King & Spalding law firm in Washington, D.C. He is advising SPEA on the initiative. “We need to look at the positive and negative effects of international trade on U.S. manufacturing and recommend policies that will benefit the sector.”

The SPEA initiative will also include a 2016 conference on manufacturing, public policy and the presidential election. That will be held in Washington with a goal of providing candidates with the latest information and analysis of issues confronting the sector.

In the longer term, the initiative hopes to be the go-to venue for state-of-the-art, objective information and analysis on public policy issues affecting the U.S. manufacturing sector. It is also the goal of the initiative to provide SPEA students and faculty with opportunities to research and study key issues in the manufacturing sector. A number of SPEA faculty members will present at the workshop this fall, and students will be invited to attend.

About the School of Public and Environmental Affairs

SPEA was founded in 1972 and is a world leader in public and environmental affairs and is the largest school of public administration and public policy in the United States. In the 2012 “Best Graduate Schools” by U.S. News & World Report, SPEA ranks second and is the nation's highest-ranked professional graduate program in public affairs at a public institution. Four of its specialty programs are ranked in the top-five listings. SPEA's doctoral programs in public affairs and public policy are also ranked by the National Research Council as among the top two in the nation.

Source: Indiana University

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