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by Matt Stagner, APPAM President-Elect
Fall is in the air!
For me, fall is a refreshing season of new beginnings. Our member universities are back in full swing, students are launching into their research for the academic year, and the fall conference is just around the corner. It is a season with much to look forward to.
I am proud of our conference theme this year, Evidence for Action: Encouraging Innovation and Improvement. It seamlessly builds off our focus on evidence-based policy of the last several years. The programming emphasizes the need to use research and evidence at every stage of the policy process, from the drafting of a new policy to the evaluation and improvement of an existing one.
The theme also brings together the “old guard” with newer-career professionals. As Mathematica CEO Paul Decker said during the recent APPAM/Mathematica Forum, we are leaving behind an era of traditional research and evaluation in which data were scarce, static, and often expensive. “Over the last 10 years, that situation has changed as we’ve seen a democratization of data,” he continued. “Data are available in lots of different sources and often readily accessible. We have data that come in many different forms, but we also have the technology to leverage those different formats that they arrive in. And the data also tend to flow rather than remain static.”
At APPAM, we have seen this shift. New data and methods aimed at improving policy are represented in the content of our annual Fall Research Conference. The 2017 conference featured a symposium discussing the report from the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking. In 2018, as we celebrate the 40th Fall Research Conference, we have introduced new ways to engage with colleagues around these important changes in our field.
In lieu of the past symposia sessions, this conference will feature Super Sessions throughout the schedule. Super Sessions provide opportunities for researchers from specific policy areas to gather, learn and discuss current and emerging topics. The Super Sessions include:
Values in Education: Implications for Policy and Practice on Thursday at 8:30 am.
Systemic Reviews: The Next Step in Evidence-Based Policy Analysis on Thursday at 10:15 am.
40 Years of Evidence for Action at APPAM and in the Field on Thursday at 1:45 pm.
The Future in Fair Housing on Friday at 8:30 am.
Is the War on Poverty Over? on Friday at 10:15 am.
Peter H. Rossi Award – Roiling the Waters: Controversy over the First Longitudinal Randomized Student of a State Pre-K Program on Friday at 1:30 pm.
David N. Kershaw Award – What Does Education Do? on Friday at 3:15 pm.
Census 2020: Protecting and Maintaining a Fair and Accurate Census on Saturday at 10:15 am.
We are also launching the Innovation Lounge at the 2018 conference.
The Innovation Lounge will provide a new type of experience for conference attendees. I’ve always heard from APPAM members that one of the things they love about the conference is the chance to see colleagues from around the world, catch up, and bounce emerging ideas off each other. While we hope this happens in sessions, in the hallways, and after hours, the Lounge will provide a more formal space for gathering colleagues to brainstorm ideas and share perspectives. I am pleased with the variety of work to be presented in these informal sessions.
On less practical note, fall is also represented in the colors for our conference this year. Ruby is the traditional stone to commemorate a 40th anniversary. Most recognized as a red gem, rubies can also exhibit secondary shades like orange, purple and pink. These vivid colors are, full of life and energy, are the perfect backdrop to represent action, innovation, and collaboration. I invite you to join us for this milestone conference on November 8 – 10 in Washington, DC, and look forward to seeing you there.
Matt Stagner, APPAM President-Elect