Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

The La Follette School Seminar Series engages participants in discussion of a range of public policy issues and showcases the research of faculty from the La Follette School, other UW-Madison departments, and outside the UW-Madison community. Faculty, students, and visitors take part in lively dialogue about topics such as poverty and welfare, health, education, international affairs, trade and finance, and the environment. For more information, email Assistant Professor Rourke O'Brien

Unless otherwise noted, all presentations are from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the La Follette School of Public Affairs, 1225 Observatory Drive, and there is no cost to attend. Click here for a printable schedule. Please check back periodically for the most current information.

Fall 2017

Wednesday, September 6, 2017
2017 Constitutional Changes in Turkey: Reasons and Possible Reflections on Turkish Politics

Oğuzhan Göktolga, an assistant professor at Inonu University in Turkey, will discuss the most recent changes to the country’s Constitution, which has had 18 amendments since it was enacted in 1982. The most recent amendment – approved by 51.4 percent of voters in April 2017 – is probably the most important because it altered the core structure of Turkey’s administrative system.

Göktolga will discuss the rationale behind this change from a parliamentary system to a presidential system and the possible impact on Turkish political life. Debate about this and other amendments has focused on whether these changes would result in a more totalitarian and thus less democratic country or in a more powerful execution, and thus a more sustainable democracy.

Göktolga and his family have lived in Madison since May, when he began a four-month honorary fellowship with Director and Professor Don Moynihan.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Cost Analysis of Humanitarian Action

During the past two decades, economists have published an enormous volume of work on development and humanitarian programs. However, most of this research focuses on the impacts of development and humanitarian programs – with implementation costs given relatively little attention.

Nonetheless, there is no reason to think that average-cost determinants – fixed vs. variable costs, input prices, technology – for profit-maximizing entities do not apply to nonprofit organizations in some form. While the nonprofit sector lacks an explicit pricing mechanism, nonprofits are subject to “demand” forces for their services in the form of donor behavior.

Nonprofit organizations respond to an implicit pricing mechanism that reflects the programs donors are willing to fund and the budgets they are willing to accept.

In this presentation, Caitlin Tulloch of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) will use a new set of average-cost data points from a large humanitarian nongovernmental organization to develop a theory of average-cost functions for humanitarian nonprofit organizations and make an initial description of their functional form for several kinds of outputs.

Tulloch also will discuss how implicit price ceilings formed by donor guidelines follow the same intuition as price ceilings in the private sector and will walk through the welfare consequences of a new cost-efficiency threshold from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.

A technical advisor, Tulloch previously interned in the Public Financial Management Unit of the World Bank in Indonesia and was a policy analyst in the Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at Massachusetts Institute of Poverty, where she managed the organization’s cost-effectiveness analyses. Her work has included long-term policy engagements with the governments of Ghana, the Dominican Republic, and others.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Presidential Management Fellowship Program Information Session

Thursday, September 28, 2017 - Institute for Research on Poverty Seminar Series
12:15 to 1:30 p.m., Social Sciences Room 8417
Dream Hoarders
Richard Reeves, Senior Fellow and Co-Director, Center of Children and Families, Brookings Institution

Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Serving the Public Interest in Several Ways: Theory and Empirics
1199 Nancy Nicholas Hall

Robert Dur will discuss a theoretical model about how people differ in their altruistic preferences and can serve the public interest: 1) by making donations to charity, and 2) by taking a public service job and exerting effort on the job.

Dur, a professor at Erasmus School of Economics in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleague Max van Lent predicted that people who are more altruistic are more likely to take a public service job and, for a given job, make higher charitable donations. They also predicted that when comparing equally altruistic workers, those with a regular job make higher donations to charity than those with a public service job by a simple substitution argument.

Using the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (which contains data on self-reported altruism, sector of employment, and charitable donations for more than 7,500 workers), Dur and van Lent found support for most of their predictions.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017
PA 802 Public Affairs Seminar Series class meeting

Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Topic TBD
Public Affairs Writer in Residence Sarah Stillman, The New Yorker

Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Topic TBD
Anthony Bertelli, Professor of the Politics of Public Policy, New York University, Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Topic and Speaker TBD

Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Topic and Speaker TBD

Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Topic TBD
Eileen Chou, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, University of Virginia, Frank Battan School of Leadership and Public Policy
1199 Nancy Nicholas Hall

Past Seminars