Professor Michal Grinstein-Weiss to Direct New University-Wide Social Policy Institute

Faculty; Policy

Inequities and inequalities are ever-evolving and surfacing in our society, presenting a shifting landscape of challenges and problems. Gaps in our social, economic, education and health systems all pose specific challenges on regional, national and global scales.

To address these challenges, Washington University in St. Louis will bring together the best research evidence from disciplines across the university to solve real-world challenges — which sums up both the mission and the vision of the new Social Policy Institute. The institute will serve as a hub for policy-focused efforts university-wide, partnering and collaborating with key university faculty and centers, including the Brown School’s Clark-Fox Policy Institute

The Social Policy Institute will also partner with corporate leaders and government officials, private foundations and think tanks to develop strong research partnerships at the local, state, federal and global levels. The institute’s work extends across a wide range of areas, delving into business, social work, engineering, design and liberal arts. Its multidisciplined, holistic and innovative approach is grounded in its ultimate goal of translating research findings into actionable policy to benefit communities in St. Louis, the nation and across the globe.

“Over the past decades, research has well documented the range of disparities in financial opportunities, housing, education and health that adversely affect the well-being of individuals and communities. What is needed now is to move from documenting disparities to finding and implementing solutions to the inequalities at the root of those disparities,” said Michal Grinstein-Weiss, the Shanti K. Khinduka Distinguished Professor at the Brown School, who will serve as director of the Social Policy Institute.

“It is our responsibility, as part of a leading research institution and as world citizens, to leverage our findings and effectively apply what we learn from research so we can discover and implement innovative ways to eliminate or reduce inequities,” she said.

 “The Social Policy Institute will enable us to continue strengthening Washington University’s capacity and capability to engage in empirical research and cross-sector collaborations,” Chancellor Andrew D. Martin said. “With nonprofit and industry partners, we’re investing in evidence-based policy ideas for people in the St. Louis region, the United States and beyond.”

 “Frequently, research findings haven’t had the expected impact on policy because the evidence has not been given to the right people, at the right time, in the right way — that is, translated into accessible information and delivered to those who can influence policy design and decision-making,” Grinstein-Weiss said.

“The institute is eagerly looking forward to serving as a hub for the work that faculty, students and the various university centers are already doing to address social policy,” she said. “We see one part of our mission as supporting and facilitating these ongoing efforts as well as using our network of contacts and resources to help broker future multidiscipline, cross-sector partnerships that will help to ensure research evidence is transformed into policy and programs that benefit our campus, communities and world.  We know we will be stronger in this effort together.”