Welfare reform

Symposium on welfare reform

Four academic departments in Arts & Sciences presented an interdisciplinary symposium on welfare reform October 17-18 on the Medford/Somerville campus.

The symposium, which featured experts on the issue from Tufts, the University of Michigan, UCLA and NYU, was presented by departments of Child Development, Economics, Political Science and Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning and sponsored by the provost and the University College of Citizenship and Public Service.

Rebecca M. Blank, dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and Henry Carter Adams Collegiate Professor of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, opened the symposium as the presenter of the Wellington-Burnham Lecture. Her topic was "What Have We Learned from Welfare Reform?" Blank served as a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers from 1997-99. Her 1997 book, It Takes a Nation: A New Agenda for Fighting Poverty (Princeton University Press), won the Richard A. Lester Prize for the Outstanding Book in Labor Economics and Industrial Relations.

A panel discussion on "Welfare Reform: Antecedents and Effects," moderated by Linda Datcher Loury, associate professor of economics at Tufts, featured Blank, Martin Gilens, associate professor of political science at UCLA; Hirokazu Yoshikawa, assistant professor of psychology at New York University, and James Jennings, professor of urban and environmental policy and planning at Tufts.

During the second day of the symposium, Yoshikawa gave a seminar on "Effects of Welfare and Anti-Poverty Policies on Children: Toward a Dynamic Systems Perspective." He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences' Board on Children, Youth and Families Committee on Family and Work Policies.

Gilens gave a lecture on "Public Opinion, Representation, and the Politics of Antipoverty Policy." The associate director of the Institute for Social Science Research at UCLA, Gilens is the author of Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media and Politics of Antipoverty Policy (University of Chicago Press).