Season 2 Episode #3: On Mass Incarceration

Listen to Public Problems Podcast Season 2 Episode #3: On Mass Incarceration with Andie Parnell, Ashley Alley, Samantha Wilkinson, Cannon Tate, Mei-Hsuan Lee, and Joe Ladmirault.

#public #problems #podcast #mass #incarceration

A quarter of the world’s prisoner population is located in the United States. The incarceration problem has become a vicious circle, difficult to break and indefinitely repeating itself. The average number of prisoners in the US is almost five times higher than the next highest number among developed countries. What explains this phenomenon, that is less than intuitive? What are the consequences of a large number of individuals incarcerated, who by all accounts do not pose a threat to society? How does this affect peoples’ lives and policymaking overall? Public service and administration students at the Bush School for Government and Public Service were so astounded by this figure that they pursued a semester-long research project on mass incarceration in the United States. They attempt to answer these questions in their research and offer viable alternatives to current approaches in dealing with high levels of incarceration. In this podcast, the host invites discussion of their findings and their significance for policy change today. Due to the long history of the prison system in the United States, the guests entangle some of the underlying issues that are tightly related to the panorama today. Namely, slavery, racial tensions, and drugs are analyzed in detail throughout the podcast.

Sources cited:
To read more on Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow visit the website

Season 2 Episode #2: On the Mother Mortality Rate

Listen to Public Problems Podcast Season 2 Episode #2: On the Mother Mortality Rate with Caro Albuja, Zachary Cochran, Hailey Duncan, James Palacios, and Jasmine Walia.

#maternal, #women, #pregnancy, #mortality, #WHO, #Texas, #US, #health, #FamilyPlanning, #contraception

The World Health Organization defines maternal death as the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes. Despite the status of the United States as a developed country with a leading role in the world, recent years have seen an increase in maternal death rates. In the past year, the rate has been double that of Canada for instance. Such a counterintuitive problem for a developed country, puzzled students at The Bush School, who set out to understand the causes, consequences, and problems associated with this challenge in the United States. The host and guests engage in a conversation that uses data and evidence on maternal deaths and proposes a number of options to provide better care for women and children. Why is the rate higher in this country? Are Americans less healthy than counterparts? How does access to health care influence general health outcomes and especially maternal death rates? How do racial disparities manifest themselves? What are possible solutions and policies that can improve the outcomes in this area?


World Health Organization International Classification of Diseases

Department of State and Health Services. Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force and Department of State Health Services

Season 2 Episode #1: On Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Listen to Public Problems Podcast Season 2 Episode #1: On Sexual Assault on College Campuses with Seth Smitherman, Shrabya Poudyal, Mariam Chikhladze, Georgia Gandy Osburn, and Kyoung Cheol Kim.

We look forward to hearing about your ideas in comments…

#Sexual, #assault, #harassment, #college, #campuses, #MeToo, #Women, #Safety, #ClearyAct

In the last year, sexual assault has become the most present theme in the American public space. Numerous cases of mediatized sexual harassment and assault pointed to the longstanding problem of women objectification, that cuts across every sphere of society, from politics to entertainment. These developments have spurred the #MeToo movement, and a national conversation of gender and power relations in the country. To kick off the second season of The Public Problems podcast, the host initiates a conversation with graduate students at The Bush School of Government and Public Service, who conducted research on sexual assault on college campuses. According to research one in five women and seven percent of men in college campuses experience some form of sexual harassment, with a majority going unreported. Further, 89% of colleges in 2015 did not report any sexual assault on their campuses, showing the perverse incentives in many universities to downplay the prevalence and seriousness of this issue. What are the implications of sexual assault on college campuses? How does it affect someone’s social, personal, academic well-being? Based on research conducted by the guests, this podcast offers an overview of the current trends in sexual assault in American universities, the consequences to those subject to the phenomenon and the larger policy implications. Ultimately, what should universities do to meaningfully address sexual violence in their campuses to provide for the safety of their students?
#Sexual, #assault, #harassment, #college, #campuses, #MeToo, #Women, #Safety, #ClearyAct

Sources mentioned:
American Association of University Women. Education
To read the Campus Climate Survey Validation Study click here
To read more about restorative justice click here
To read more about Rice University’s Project Safe click here
To read more about UT’s MasculinUT project click here

Season 1 Episode #8: On Higher Education and Performance Funding

Listen to Episode #8: On Higher Education and Performance Funding

#education #funding #U.S. #Trump #politics #public #problems

Nathan Favero is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. His research focuses on internal management, performance, research methodology, race/ethnicity, and customer satisfaction in the context of public institutions. Most of his empirical work has considered these topics in the context of education, drawing data from public school systems in Texas, New York City, California, and Denmark. His research has been published in a variety of academic journals, including the Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory, Public Administration Review, the International Public Management Journal, and Public Administration.

Institutions of higher education serve multiple purposes from the micro-individual level to the macro-societal level. They are places where knowledge is both produced and shared; they serve a practical purpose as well a theoretical one; they have a long-lasting influence for an individual’s economic well-being, as well as strong impacts for democratic citizenship and values in society. However, there is a dichotomy in the purpose of higher education in the US, split between the goal of educating students and that of producing academic research, which can often stand at odds with each other. Drawing on substantial experience and knowledge of the American higher education system the host and guest engage in an hour-long discussion about measuring performance in higher education as a tool to understand its impact in educating students. One key piece of the conversation revolves around performance-based funding, as a carrot and stick policy that rewards good performance of a higher education institution. What are the dangers of a one size fit all policy in higher education? How are students impacted by the policy, and what are macro-level repercussions of such an approach?


Favero, N. (2017). The danger of ‘one size funds all’ policies. Huffington Post. Retrieved from…00dd8e016eaa0

To read Dr. Favero’s full bio follow the link:

For the full list of articles published by Dr. Favero follow the link:…0iwMAAAAJ&hl=en

To check out Dr. Favero’s work check out his website:

REGISTER for Public Problems 101: A January Review of the Evidence

Every Wednesday in January, we will be virtually conducting the first Public Problems with Justin B. Bullock, short course. This course will “meet” every Wednesday evening. On every Wednesday evening in January of 2018, I will upload public video lectures on Youtube and Facebook that correspond to a learning module within Google Classroom. There will be 5 learning modules for this course. Week 1 will be an introduction to the course. Weeks 2-4 will each provide additional, more in-depth information on a topic from a Public Problem episode, and Week 5 will be a conclusion.

Along with uploading public lectures for each week, we will provide other publically available sources of information to correspond with the learning module from respected academics, journalists, and educators. We will also provide discussion questions and a forum within Google Classroom to have discussions on the provided material.

REGISTRATION is December 1st-15th, I will let the members of this event vote on which three episodes we should examine more closely. Once votes are tallied, I will post the results and begin structuring the course. I will also ask the guest of the episodes selected to join us for the classroom experience either through a live Q&A, recorded brief follow up thoughts on the podcast, respond to some discussion questions, etc.

If you would like to join the Google Classroom learning experience simply create a gmail account, join this event, and I will provide all the information that you need to participate.

These public lectures and the Google Classroom learning experience are free and open to the public.

I do, however, reserve the discretion, as the instructor, to enforce discussion rules to maintain a high-quality, respectful, and honest dialogue. These rules will be discussed at the beginning of the course.

If this event interests you, like our page, check out our podcast, and join us over at: Public Problems with Justin B. Bullock

You can check out our podcast channels on iTunes Podcast, SoundCloud, Podcast Addict, and Pocket Casts. Just search for Public Problems. 

Season 1 Episode #7: On Urban Sustainability and Economic

Listen to Episode #7: On Urban Sustainability and Economic

#urban #public #problems #sustainability #economic #development #us

Dr. Kent E. Portney is a professor at the Bush School’s Department of Public Service and Administration. He was appointed a director of the Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy in September 2016 after serving two years as a Senior Fellow in the Institute. He was on the Tufts University faculty since 1979 and served as department chair in political science and directed the Graduate Program in Public Policy and Citizen Participation. Most recently, he was director of the Water and Research Program at the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP) at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Florida State University, his master’s from the University of Connecticut, and his bachelor’s from Rutgers University, where his studies focused on public administration and public policy. Dr. Portney’s areas of expertise include environmental policy, urban sustainability, urban politics, economic inequality, and policy analysis. He has authored or co-authored nine books on such topics as economic and environmental development, citizen participation, and teaching critical reasoning in the social sciences; and he has written numerous journal articles on urban sustainability, urban politics, and the local nonprofit sector.

Are sustainability and economic development at odds with each other? Does pushing for economic development mean sacrificing the environment and vice versa? In this conversation, Dr. Portney explains the idea behind sustainable cities and what he understands as the combination of economic development with environmental protection and ensuring equity in service delivery by cities. In Dr. Portney’s view, the relationship between economic development and sustainability is not a dichotomous one. There are more shades in between, and the trade-off between the two is not a given. In fact, economic development cannot endure long-term if pollution and environmental problems are not addressed. What then should cities do to develop economically while concomitantly protecting the environment?


Portney, K. E. (2003). Taking sustainable cities seriously: Economic development, the environment, and quality of life in American cities (Vol. 67). MIT Press.

Portney, K. E. (2013). Local sustainability policies and programs as economic development: Is the new economic development sustainable development?. Cityscape, 45-62.

To read more on Dr. Portney’s book Sustainability follow the link here:

Berry, J. M., Portney, K. E., & Thomson, K. (2002). The rebirth of urban democracy. Brookings Institution Press.

To see the full list of books and articles published by Dr. Portney follow the link here:…f584AAAAJ&hl=en

Check out Dr. Portney’s website titled Our Green Cities in the following link here:

Season 1 Episode #6: On ISIS

Listen to Episode #6: On ISIS

#ISIS #terrorism #us #obama #trump #new

Ambassador Ryan Crocker is a career ambassador within the U.S. Foreign Service. Ambassador Crocker was in the Foreign Service for 37 years and, after retiring, was recalled to active duty by President Obama in 2011 to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan. His previous appointments included service as the U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Lebanon. Crocker became dean of Texas A&M University’s George Bush School of Government and Public Service in 2010.

In this podcast, Ambassador Crocker and the host engaged in a discussion about one of the most concerning events in recent international affairs, the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS). A few days ago, up to 235 people were killed in a terrorist attack in Egypt, one of many that have occurred in the region, Europe, and the United States. While no group has claimed responsibility until now, witnesses report that the assailants carried ISIS flags. In recent years ISIS has turned into a global threat, supplanting almost completely the danger posed by Al Qaeda decades earlier. ISIS has become infamous for its brutal and ruthless style of terror, with images that are still vividly haunting.

Is the Islamic State a symptom or a cause of bad governance? What will ISIS do after it has lost its physical hold on territories around the Middle East? What are the implications for US foreign policy in the region and beyond? Is America retreating from its policing role in the international arena?


For a recent analysis of President Trump’s policy towards the State Department written by Ambassador Crocker for the New York Times follow the link here:…rvice-budget.html

For a full bio of Ambassador Crocker at the Wilson Center follow the link here:

To watch the documentary Losing Iraq follow the link here:


Season 1 Episode #5: On Immigration

Listen to Episode #5: On Immigration

#news #U.S. #politics #Trump #immigration

Dr. Emily A. Sellars joined the Department of International Affairs at the Bush School this fall as an assistant professor. Prior to coming to the Bush School, she was a postdoctoral scholar in political economy at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. Dr. Sellars received a joint Ph.D. in political science and agricultural and applied economics from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. She also holds an MA in political science from the University of Wisconsin and an AB in economics magna cum laude from Cornell University, where she was a College Scholar.

I/E/mmigration has an overarching impact on society, which is why it often carries charged debates and feelings among people fueling its controversial nature. In the podcast, the host initiates a conversation about Dr. Sellar’s dissertation ‘’Essays on immigration and politics,’’ which received the Mancur Olson award for the best thesis in political economy in the last two years. With current developments in the American political and policy scene, there has not been a better time to ask questions about political dynamics of immigration and the relationship between immigration opportunities and collective action.

The United States relationship with immigration is a complex one. The very existence of a wide constellation of immigration statuses, both legal and illegal contributions to the lack of clarity of the nature of migration in the US and approaches to tackle it at the policy level. What do these intricacies and complexities mean for people coming to the US and how the lives of those already here are influenced and impacted. Who are the winners and losers? Do we place more importance on security considerations when thinking about migration or fundamental human rights?


To read about Dr. Sellars’ research interest and publications follow the link:

To read Dr. Sellars’ profile in the Bush School page follow the link:

Sellars, E. A. (2013). Does Emigration Inhibit Reform? Evidence from the Mexican Agrarian Movement, 1910-1945. Article available here:…igReform.pdf?dl=0

Sellars, E. A. (2017). Communities left behind: Migration, Wealth and Public Services in Mexico. Article available here:…licGoods.pdf?dl=0

Sellars, E. A. (2017). Emigration and Collective Action. Article available here:…larsEmig.pdf?dl=0

Season 1 Episode #4: On Presidential Deceit and Democracy

Listen to Episode #4: On Presidential Deceit and Democracy

#Deception #Lies #Presidents #War #Democracy

John Schuessler is an Associate Professor in the Department of International Affairs at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University. Previously, he taught at the Air War College. Schuessler received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago. In his analysis of presidential deception recently, Dr. Schuessler’s questions concern the visible depart that President Trump has marked in relation to the truth in the political arena. What is the relationship between democratic deception and self-deception? When does deception blur into self-deception? How does the current president differ from predecessors in the display of deception and/or self-deception? The host and guest analyze the current status of presidential rhetoric and what are the larger policy consequences stemming from these developments. They further undertake a historical perspective on the use of deception as a means to justify going to war, used by numerous presidents and administrations.

Democratic deception in modern liberal democracies refers to leaders, who try to use deception or misinformation, or framing to change/swing public opinion in a certain way as a tool to shift the blame for war onto others. Referring to the theoretical framework developed in his book, Dr. Schuessler carries out a historical analysis of the use of deceit in foreign policy, starting with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Dr. Schuessler is the author of Deceit on the Road to War: Presidents, Politics, and American Democracy (Cornell University Press, 2015).

More information on the book can be found at the following link:…

To read Dr. Schuessler’s bio and publications follow the Bush School of Government and Public Service link:…

To read Dr. Schuessler’s piece on the International Security Studies Forum titled Why does Donald Trump have so much trouble with the truth? Follow this link:

To read New York Time’s list of verifiable lies from President Trump follow this link:…

For a list of journal articles written by Dr. Schuessler follow the link:…

To read more articles from International Security Journal follow this link:

To read more articles from Perspective on Politics follow this link:…

Season 1 Episode #3: On NAFTA and Free Trade

Listen to Episode #3: On NAFTA and Free Trade

Free trade in its modern and recognizable form dates back to the ideas of Adam Smith. For centuries free trade has been considered in mainstream economics a key driver of economic growth. At the same time, free trade has served as the battleground for competing ideological perspectives throughout modern history. The debacle continues to this day, extending beyond its economic realm, to capture political discourse. Today’s podcast is an attempt to use evidence in assessing free trade in light of increasing political rhetoric in the current administration. Dr. Raymond Robertson is a professor and holder of the Helen and Roy Ryu Chair in Economics and Government in the Department of International Affairs at the Bush School of Government and Public Service. In this podcast, the host and Dr. Robertson shed light on the obvious and hidden costs and benefits of free trade, how its impact differs across communities, and the need to be cognizant about its negative impacts. The premise of the talk, as Dr. Robertson indicates in the outset, is that in free trade, as in everything related to public policy, there will be winners and losers. But how much do the winners win, and how much do the losers lose? Is there a tradeoff between the benefits of free trade and the costs for workers in the labor market? How can we change the conversation from focusing solely on those who lose from free trade to ways of mitigating these losses, to sustain free trade’s overall positive influence for the country?

Sources cited:

Dr. Robertson’s Vitae can be accessed following this link:…

More information on NAFTA can be accessed following this link:…