Since last spring, School of Management professor Judy Chevalier, along with several other faculty members, has been studying the future scope of the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, and visiting public policy schools and institutes at Yale’s peer institutions. This spring, a committee led by Chevalier will deliver a report to University President Peter Salovey and Provost Ben Polak, outlining the costs and benefits of expanding the Jackson Institute, potentially into a professional school of public policy and global affairs.

Still, even without a school, many Yale faculty members are already working on social science research with public policy applications. In addition to the work being done at the professional schools and across departments of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the study of public policy related research takes place at the Jackson Institute and the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, among other academic units across the University. Why, then, create a new school specifically tailored to the study of public policy?

Faculty members and experts interviewed by the News said that while a public policy school could enhance the University’s social science offerings, establishing it would require enormous resources.

“In the creation of any new school at Yale, you’re going to want to make sure: … can you attract the very best faculty to that school, are you going to attract really great students to that school and do you have the resources to make sure that that school thrives rather than limps along,” Salovey said. “I think the next thing you have to do is assess who else is in the same game … You have to look at those other schools and say what is your niche, is there a place for you and will you compete effectively.”

Kris Olds, an expert in the globalization of higher education, said that whereas centers or institutes are often more focussed on facilitating research, a school often has affiliated tenured faculty members, who can focus on building the reputation of its various programs.

But he also explained that establishing a new school might lead to competition between new programs in that school, as well as programs in existing departments.

“If the deans and the senior leadership are allocating resources, it’s coming out of a central fund. They will have to make decisions of whether to grow a new school or whether to allocate [more resources to existing programs],” Olds said. “If there are more units on campus that have that as part of their mission then inevitably those resources are getting redirected to more corners of the campus … It can generate more activity on campus, which is exciting, but it can also generate competition between traditional departments and disciplines and interdisciplinary-oriented disciplines like international studies.”

Salovey said Yale must consider whether a new public policy school would duplicate or compliment work in existing departments, such as economics, political science, psychology or environmental studies.

Last January, Polak charged a committee, chaired by dean of social science Alan Gerber, to perform an inventory on the strengths of Yale’s data-intensive social science research and teaching with applications to public policy. Gerber said his committee, which is expected to return a report to Polak and Salovey in the middle of the 2018-19 academic year, will review recommendations by Chevalier’s committee when formulating its own proposals for Yale’s existing social science research programs.

Former University of Pennsylvania Provost Thomas Ehrlich said schools dedicated to the study of public policy can bring together students and faculty members from a range of different disciplines to analyze issues in a nonpartisan manner.

But, he said, schools of public policy must have a focus, adding that Indiana University — where he used to serve as president — houses a school of public policy and environmental studies.

At the moment, the Jackson Institute focuses entirely on international affairs. A new plan could potentially expand the institute’s scope to cover issues related to domestic policy.

Indeed, Jackson Institute Director James Levinsohn said Chevalier’s committee is currently considering whether to create a school that focuses on international policy, such as a school of global affairs, or to create one that studies both domestic and international policy.

Vice President for Global Strategy Pericles Lewis said that before deciding on whether to create a new school, the University must determine how to hire faculty members, what the tenure process will be, how to recruit students, what programs to offer, how to offer career services for graduates and how much to spend on undergraduate programs.

The last time Yale established a new school was in 1976, when the University launched the School of Management. Former University Secretary Sam Chauncey ’57 recalled that even with external and internal consultants estimating the cost of the project, the financial burden of opening the school was approximately double what was projected.

Before the Jackson Institute was established in 2010, the work the institute now focuses on was overseen by the International Affairs Council, one of the area studies councils at the MacMillan Center, according to MacMillan Center Director Ian Shapiro. The council offered an international relations master’s program and an international studies undergraduate major.

“When I first came to MacMillan, [the council] wasn’t very good,” Shapiro said. “The international studies and the [master’s] program were mostly being taught by adjuncts and visitors, and it didn’t have a very well defined curriculum.”

But, he added, since the council expanded into the Jackson Institute, Yale has directed resources toward hiring faculty members and the curriculum has become more defined.

Several administrators and members of Chevalier’s committee have visited Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, as well as Tufts’ Fletcher School of International Affairs and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs to study their offerings.

Unlike public policy schools, Shapiro said, the Jackson Institute’s masters’ programs are geared toward students who plan to pursue diplomacy as opposed to policy work. In order to be competitive, he added, a public policy school at Yale will require far more resources than the Jackson Institute currently has.

“If Yale is going to have a public policy school master’s program that is going to compete with the Kennedy School, the Woodrow Wilson School, they have to have enough money to give full fellowships to all the students because that’s what they get at those places,” Shapiro said. “If you’re going to have an endowment to give full tuitions and stipends to all the students, that’s a lot. And they would need more faculty to teach it. They would need a lot of resources. My view is if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right … [The Jackson Institute] would need more resources than it currently has.”

Yale established the Concilium on International and Area Studies, which decades later became the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, in the early 1960s.

Hailey Fuchs | hailey.fuchs@yale.edu