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Scholars Strategy Network's No Jargon

No Jargon, the Scholars Strategy Network’s monthly podcast, presents interviews with top university scholars on the politics, policy problems, and social issues facing the nation. Powerful research, intriguing perspectives -- and no jargon. Find show notes and plain-language research briefs on hundreds of topics at www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org/nojargon. New episodes released once a month.
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Scholars Strategy Network's No Jargon
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Now displaying: Page 1
Jun 10, 2024

The dual challenges of mental illness and lack of affordable housing are pressing issues in this election year. In March, California voters narrowly approved Proposition 1, which allocates $6.4 billion to construct new housing and treatment facilities for people with mental illness statewide. But will this measure truly benefit this vulnerable population? Professor Neil Gong delves into the history of mental health treatment in the U.S. and how it has shaped our current system and policy conversations. He tells stories of people he met through his research to highlight the stark differences between mental health care available to the wealthy and the poor, and explores potential policy changes to address the intertwined challenges of homelessness and mental health. 

For more of Neil Gong’s work:

 

May 7, 2024

Misinformation seems to be everywhere. From falsehoods about the coronavirus to lies being spread by political leaders and their followers, in recent years it feels like it’s getting harder and harder to discern fact from fiction. And with social media and AI permeating our lives, new technologies only seem to be making the situation worse. Professor Ray Block dives into the world of misinformation, sharing lessons from his new position as the Michael D. Rich Distinguished Chair for Countering Truth Decay at the RAND Corporation about what’s behind the problem and what can be done to address it.

For more on this topic:

  • Listen to this Call with the Experts podcast episode from the RAND Corporation, featuring Professor Ray Block.

  • Check out this RAND Corporation Q&A on the end of Covid-19 public health emergency.

 

Apr 3, 2024

In March, the Justice Department filed a major antitrust complaint against Apple accusing the tech giant of maintaining a monopoly over the smartphone market. This is just the latest action the government has taken against Big Tech in recent years, marking a clear shift from the cozy relationship the industry long had with Washington. What’s behind the love/hate relationship between Big Tech and our government? And what can Silicon Valley’s past reveal about the way this might all play out going forward? In this archive episode, originally recorded in September 2021, Professor Margaret O’mara digs into the history of Silicon Valley – from its early beginnings to the days of the internet boom – to explain the Valley’s ever-present intersection with US politics and make sense of the recent shift.

For more of Margaret O’Mara’s work:

 

Mar 5, 2024

Border crossings coming into the United States are at some of their highest levels in recent history. Cities like Chicago and New York are struggling to provide services while the immigration system is running out of funding and faces a massive backlog of asylum applications. The situation is looking tough for many asylum seekers, but what happens when individuals make it through the system and are granted refugee status?

Enter refugee resettlement agencies – organizations that provide food, shelter, and of course, job placement to newly arrived refugees. But according to sociologist Dr. Nicole Kreisberg, their current strategy of job placement is deeply flawed: prioritizing immediate yet low-wage work over long-term reliable employment. In this archive episode, originally released in August 2022, Kreisberg spoke to us about the harms of this strategy and what needs to be done to truly support incoming refugees.

For more on this topic:

Feb 6, 2024

Martin Luther King Jr. holds a special place in the American consciousness and is one of the few people to have a federal holiday celebrating his legacy. But what exactly is MLK’s legacy? From immigrants rights groups to gun rights activists to politicians, the history of the civil rights movement and MLK’s work and words have long been used, and contested, by many different people. Drawing from her new book, Professor Hajar Yazdiha explained why MLK holds such a prominent place in our shared memory, how politicians and social movements have used his legacy for their own causes, and how all this has impacted policy decisions.

For more on this topic:

 

Jan 9, 2024

From healthcare strikes to auto workers strikes to the Writers Guild and Hollywood actors strikes, 2023 was an eventful year for union activity. Professor Nathan Wilmers examined the implications of that activity and what it may mean for the future of the labor movement as employees fight for fair wages, equality, and protection in the workplace. Importantly, Professor Wilmers highlighted the history of the labor movement over the past few decades – as it may provide some answers for the future. 

For more on this topic:

Read Wilmers’ paper, co-written by Maxim Massenkof: Economic Outcomes of Strikers in an Era of Weak Unions

Read his SSN policy brief: Does Union Activism Actually Raise Wages?

Dec 5, 2023

Since the emergence of ChatGPT in late 2022, new artificial intelligence models have captured the attention and fascination of the world. Some Americans are still acquainting themselves with the tools while for others, these models are already becoming an essential part of their workplace. Professor Jim Samuel explained what generative AI is, how it functions, and its ethical concerns. Importantly, Professor Samuel laid out why AI tools like ChatGPT require more transparency and regulation–and what that should look like. 

For more on this topic:

Read Samuel’s SSN policy brief: The Critical Need for Transparency and Regulation Amidst the Rise of Powerful Artificial Intelligence Models

Read his other SSN brief: A Call for Proactive Policies for Informatics and Artificial Intelligence Technologies.

Nov 7, 2023

While news over Britney Spears’s 13-year conservatorship turned what was a largely unfamiliar term into one most Americans now know, involuntary care over adults with certain types of disabilities or severe mental illness is nothing new in the United States. In fact, the contentious battle between civil rights and health care needs goes back decades. Professor Alex V. Barnard explained the history of conservatorships in the state of California, examined the government’s role in overseeing involuntary care, and proposed ways the conservatorship system can be improved for those it seeks to help.

For more on this topic:

Check out Barnard’s recently published book, Conservatorship: Inside California’s System of Coercion and Care for Mental Illness

Read his OpEd on this topic: California needs new rules as it forces more mentally ill people into treatment.

Oct 3, 2023

With abortion bans passing in states all over the country since the overturn of Roe v. Wade, women experiencing miscarriages have been turned away from hospitals because doctors deemed that they weren’t in enough clear danger to receive abortion care. Meanwhile, many women experiencing fibromyalgia continue to have their social security disability claims denied because they are not able to provide concrete evidence that their condition severely disrupts their quality of life. According to Professor Dara Purvis, what links these two examples is that many doctors do not believe women who say they are in pain. She explained the role that courts can play on this issue and laid out what needs to happen so women’s pain does not continue to be ignored. 

For more on this topic:

Check out Purvis’s OpEd: All the Ways Alito’s Opinion Might Criminalize Pregnancy 

Read her law review journal article: Clinical Evidence as Gendered: Fibromyalgia Social Security Disability Claims

Sep 6, 2023

According to a recent, federal report, while racial diversity is at an all time high in the K-12 public school system, racial inequality and segregation on school campuses persists, and continues to increase. Professor Erica Frankenberg broke down what racial segregation has looked like for marginalized students over the past few decades, what needs to be done to combat ongoing segregation, and how the recent Supreme Court decision on college admissions directly impacts this pressing issue. 

For more on this topic:

Check out Frankenberg’s recent OpEd, co-written with Genevieve Siegel-Hawley: Social Science Explains Why K-12 Integration Efforts Should Continue.

Read her paper, co-written by Jongyeon Ee, Jennifer B. Ayscue, and Gary Orfield: Harming Our Common Future: America’s Segregated Schools 65 Years After Brown.

Aug 14, 2023

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) was signed into law almost one year ago, but Americans are still learning how this giant legislative package impacts them. With provisions targeting different sectors of the economy, the IRA has focused most prominently on clean energy investments, prescription drug pricing, and funding for the IRS. And to learn what research can tell us about these major provisions, we spoke to experts who study each of these issue areas. Professor Matto Mildenberger took on the climate provisions, Professor Soumitra Bhuyan discussed health care, and Vanessa Williamson analyzed the increase in IRS funding. Enjoy this jam-packed special edition of No Jargon to celebrate 250 episodes!

For more of Matto Mildenberger’s work:

Check out his book Carbon Captured: How Business and Labor Control Climate Politics.

For more of Soumitra Bhuyan’s work:

Read his paper, co-written by Shiyanbola O, Deka P, Isehunwa OO, Chandak A, Huang S, Wang Y, Bhatt J, Ning L, Lin WJ, and Wyant D: The role of gender in cost-related medication nonadherence among patients with diabetes

For more of Vanessa Williamson’s work:

Read her book, Read My Lips: Why Americans are Proud to Pay Their Taxes

Jun 6, 2023

In an annual report, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that over half a million Americans were experiencing homelessness on a single night in 2022. According to Professor Megan Welsh Carroll, racial discrimination, criminalization, and of course, the high cost of housing all contribute to this growing crisis. And while progress is being made, many critical public services remain out of reach for this group, including one that has led to serious public health issues: a lack of public restrooms. As the director of San Diego State University’s Project for Sanitation Justice, Welsh Carroll explained what her team is doing to combat this specific problem in San Diego and how their work can serve as a model in other parts of the country. 

For more on this topic:

Read Welsh Carroll’s OpEd in the Los Angeles Times: California cities don’t have enough public bathrooms. Here’s one solution

Read her SSN policy brief, co-authored by Jennifer Kate Felner and Jerel Pasion Calzo: Increasing Access to Public Bathrooms is Critical for San Diegans’ Health 

Read her policy brief on the criminalization of the unhoused: Why Cities Must End Their Reliance on Police to Manage Homelessness – and How They Can Do it

May 2, 2023

2023 marks 50 years since the beginning of mass incarceration in 1973, when the U.S. prison population started increasing every single year for nearly four decades, according to Professor Nazgol Ghandnoosh. Ghandnoosh, who works for The Sentencing Project, shared some sobering numbers: today, over five million people are under supervision by the criminal legal system, and nearly two million people, disproportionately Black, are living in prisons. During this conversation, she delved into the different costs of incarceration – both on the incarcerated and on our society – and highlighted efforts needed to bring down our prison population. 

For more on this topic:

Check out Ghandnoosh’s brief for the Sentencing Project, Ending 50 Years of Mass Incarceration: Urgent Reform Needed to Protect Future Generations

Read her report on racial disparities in the prison system: Black Lives Matter: Eliminating Racial Inequity in the Criminal Justice System

Apr 4, 2023

In states across the country, a flurry of new laws are being considered, and often passed, that specifically target transgender individuals – from bills that bar access to gender-affirming healthcare for youth to legislation that bans transgender people from competing in athletics. Professor Zein Murib shared where things stand, why transgender people have become the focus of so much legislative activity, and what these laws mean for the future of the LGBTQ+ movement and American society as a whole. 

For more on this topic:

Mar 7, 2023

Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) Americans may at times feel as though they’re invisible. An estimated 3 million of them live in the U.S. yet have no box to mark their identities on government forms, such as the Census, and other surveys. Professor Neda Maghbouleh, who has spent years studying the exclusion faced by MENA Americans, laid out how the misrepresentation of their race impacts their lives. She explained what steps need to be taken to increase visibility for those who fall in the MENA category as well as what changes are already underway – thanks to efforts by Magbouleh and her colleagues René D. Flores and Ariela Schachter

For more on this topic:

Check out Neda Maghbouleh’s OpEd in Newsweek, coauthored by René D. Flores and Ariela Schachter: 5 Years After Muslim Ban, Middle Eastern and North African Americans Remain Hidden.

Read an interview with Maghbouleh conducted by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: Why a MENA Category Matters.

Feb 7, 2023

In the American school system, math and science are considered essential building blocks of a good education. But for many students, those building blocks can topple over somewhere along the way. We spoke to Professor Lara Perez-Felkner, who laid out invisible barriers faced by racially minoritized and economically disadvantaged students pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). Perez-Felkner discussed ways that school administrators, policymakers, and families can come together to remove these barriers and increase opportunity –  all the way from kindergarten classrooms to college laboratories. 

For more on this topic:

Check out Lara Perez-Felkner’s SSN brief: Transforming Opportunity to Support STEM Success for All

Read her paper, co-authored by Samantha Nix: Difficulty Orientations, Gender, and Race/Ethnicity: An Intersectional Analysis of Pathways to STEM Degrees

Jan 4, 2023

Gone are the days of file cabinets, wall calendars and phone books, as advances in technology have made storing information easier than ever. But given a slew of high-profile data breaches in recent years – both at governmental agencies and private companies – cybersecurity is quickly becoming one of the most pressing issues facing our country. How can our government better protect against increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks? And how might these data breaches impact the lives of everyday Americans? Professor Jeremy Straub answered these questions and more, emphasizing what needs to happen to prevent a truly catastrophic data breach – and what such a breach could mean for the world. 

For more on this topic:

Check out Jeremy Straub’s SSN brief: Cybersecurity Incidents Can Be Unwelcome Wakeup Calls for Unprepared Agencies.  

Read his paper: Defining, Evaluating, Preparing for and Responding to a Cyber Pearl Harbor.

Dec 6, 2022

According to the CDC, more than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021. And a record-breaking 627 of those deaths occurred in the state of Maine. Substance use disorder is seen as a public health emergency by the medical community – but drug arrests continue to increase all over the country. In light of these developments, professor of political science Rob Glover, alongside his colleague Karyn Sporer (professor of sociology), set out to discover Mainers’ attitudes about current drug policy in their state and what reforms they favor. Professor Glover shared these eye-opening findings with us – as well as its policy implications. 

For more on this topic:

Check out Rob Glover and Karyn Sporer’s OpEd published in the Kennebec Journal: Maine Voters Want a New Approach on Drug Policy.

Read an overview of their findings.

Nov 1, 2022

With the midterm elections around the corner, all eyes are on the record-breaking number of Black female candidates on the ballot. We spoke to professor of government Nadia E. Brown, who shared her research on what’s contributing to the rising numbers of Black women seeking office. During the conversation, Professor Brown explored what the combined identity of being Black and female means for those who enter into politics and ways in which prior political participation becomes a key motivator for them to run for office. 

 

For more on this topic:

Check out Nadia E. Brown’s book, Sisters in the Statehouse: Black Women and Legislative Decision Making.

Read her paper, coauthored by Jamil Scott, Lorrie Frasure, and Dianne Pinderhughes: Destined to Run?: The Role of Political Participation on Black Women’s Decision to Run for Elected Office.

Read her SSN brief: What’s Hair Got to Do With It? Black Women’s Bodies and the Traditional Look of Success in American Politics.

Oct 4, 2022

With rent prices and mortgage rates continuing to skyrocket, finding and keeping stable housing is getting increasingly challenging for many  Americans. But according to sociology professor Prentiss Dantzler, those challenges are amplified for members of marginalized groups, such as Black Americans. Professor Dantzler spoke to us about the ways racial discrimination persists in the housing market, despite laws - such as the Fair Housing Act of 1968 - that were put into place decades ago to prevent it. He emphasized that having a home should not be viewed as a privilege, but rather a human right, and offered policy solutions to help achieve that vision.  

For more on this topic:

Read Prentiss Dantzler’s paper, Making Our Way Home: Housing Policy, Racial Capitalism, and Reparations.

Check out a paper written by two of his colleagues, Elizabeth Korver-Glenn and Junia Howell, mentioned in the episode: The Increasing Effect of Neighborhood Racial Composition on Housing Values, 1980-2015.

Sep 6, 2022

Millions of Americans are poor, food insecure, housing cost-burdened, or medically uninsured. This is where the U.S. social safety net comes in – with programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and unemployment insurance  – to catch their fall. But how many experience a smooth landing? And how can society provide tangible relief to those who miss the net entirely? We sought answers from professor of public policy Chris Howard, who broke down what’s included when we talk about the “social safety net” and proposed ways to mend the gaping holes. 

For more on this topic:

Check out Chris Howard’s new SSN brief: A Realistic Portrait of the Social Safety Net

Pre-order his forthcoming book, Who Cares: The Social Safety Net in America

Aug 2, 2022

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine have brought an increased number of refugees to America over the past year. Enter refugee resettlement agencies – organizations that provide food, shelter, and of course, job placement to newly arrived refugees. But according to sociologist Dr. Nicole Kreisberg, their current strategy of job placement is deeply flawed: prioritizing immediate yet low-wage work over long-term reliable employment. Kreisberg spoke to us about the harms of this strategy, and what needs to be done to truly support incoming refugees.

For more on this topic:

Check out Nicole Kreisberg’s SSN brief, co-written by Els de Graauw and Shannon Gleeson: Refugee Settlement Should Look Beyond First Job Placements

Read her recent paper, also co-written by Els de Graauw and Shannon Gleeson: Explaining Refugee Employment Declines: Structural Shortcomings in Federal Resettlement Support

Jun 29, 2022

The US Supreme Court has a long history of firmly defending its philosophy of neutrality and did the same for the recent and historic overturn of Roe. Wade. But according to law professor Cedric Merlin Powell, the Court’s neutral stance on cases impacting marginalized groups – including women and communities of color – ignores inequalities and in doing so, worsens them. Professor Powell sat down to speak with us about the serious harms caused by a judicial branch whose decisionmaking ignores the realities of racism, sexism, and other oppressive forces in our society. 

For more of Cedric Merlin Powell’s work:

Check out his SSN brief: How Race-Neutral Rulings by the Supreme Court Perpetuate Inequalities

Pre-order his forthcoming book , Post-Racial Constitutionalism and the Roberts Court

Last but not least, SSN is excited to highlight a new podcast series, When the People Decide, by The McCourtney Institute for Democracy at PennState. In this series, Jenna Spinelle tells the stories of activists, legislators, academics, and average citizens who changed their cities, states, and the country by taking important issues directly to voters — like Medicaid expansion in Idaho, sentencing reform in California, and LGBTQ workplace protections in Ohio.  

Jun 7, 2022

More and more Americans are facing massive student debt and daunting payment plans once the federal pause on loan payments runs out. But this burden is not spread evenly, and neither are the challenges of paying it off. In this episode, we spoke to Associate Professor of Public Policy Fenaba Addo about who is really facing a student debt crisis, what contributes to student debt accumulation, and how race and family wealth factor into it all.

For more of Fenaba Addo’s work:

May 3, 2022

Millennials are often seen as a progressive-minded generation – as 80’s and 90’s kids, they grew up in a digital landscape that exposed them to a diversity of perspectives. But while expectations were high that this generation would be on the frontlines in the fight for racial equality, recent research by  Associate Professor of Political Science Candis Watts Smith paints a different picture. During our conversation, Professor Smith discussed how white millennials’ really think about race  and the ways in which their views and beliefs have largely halted progress for Black Americans and other racial minorities in the United States. 

For more of Candis Smith’s work:

Check out her book on this research, Racial Stasis: The Millennial Generation and the Stagnation of Racial Attitudes in American Politics 

Read her latest book Stay Woke: A People’s Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter

Listen to her podcast, Democracy Works, to hear interviews with experts who study all different aspects of what it means to live in a democracy.

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