Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Friday, January 2, 2015

School to host policy solutions competition

The first round of the 2015 Policy Solutions Challenge will be hosted by the La Follette School in Madison February 27-March 1. The La Follette School won the 2013 competition with recommendations for reducing child obesity.

Around the United States, teams of students from U.S. schools of public policy, public affairs and public administration, are working on how to ensure an adequate and affordable supply of drinking water. A team of five students advised by professor Greg Nemet is working on a project. Students Carl Christiansen, Ben Emmel, Forrest McKnight, Sierra Fischer and Falon French will face other teams from the Midwest region.

"We are all interested in seeing what frame the other teams are going to use to address the problem," Christiansen says. "The broad nature of the topic allows us to focus on a Wisconsin specific issue; maybe the other schools will do the same as opposed to looking a policy that effects the whole country."

Team presentations are expected to address these aspects of the issue:

  • How have prior policies regarding the availability and pricing of fresh water contributed to the looming problems with water for individuals and households? What other policies also have contributed to the scenario of an insufficient supply of fresh, clean water?
  • What are the possible consequences for the U.S. over the next 20 years if policies do not succeed in improving access to affordable and sufficient supplies of drinking water?
  • What are promising policy alternatives for governments at all levels to intervene to improve the situation with drinking water? How do these policy alternatives address the underlying factors? How do the alternatives compare in terms of their cost effectiveness, efficiency, other measures of effectiveness, and impact on the distribution of water access across sectors of the economy? What are the justifications for government intervention in the water marketplace?
  • What justifications are there for possibly increasing public involvement and regulation of water rights outside of market-based mechanisms?

The first place team at each of the four sites will be offered the opportunity to compete in the national championship at the American University School of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., on March 20-21.

Policy Solutions Challenge USA is a national competition among teams of students from U.S. schools of public policy, public affairs and public administration to develop innovative solutions to the most important policy problems facing the country.