SP2 project tackles Top 10 social justice issues for presidential election

The 2016 U.S. presidential race has spurred spirited debate among candidates and the public over hot button election issues.

To help enrich the dialogue, Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) is launching a multimedia initiative in which faculty members and collaborating researchers address 10 of the most pressing social justice and policy issues facing the country.

The SP2 Penn Top 10 Social Justice & Policy Issues for the 2016 Presidential Election project offers expert analysis via a new website, PennTopTen.com, and a forthcoming book designed to inform the conversations and decisions of both voters and policymakers.

SP2 Dean John L. Jackson, Jr. says some of the issues like gun control are already mainstays in public discourse, but others need more national political discussion among the electorate.

“We’re not asking [them] to agree with each viewpoint, but we do urge them to start thinking more critically about those issues that demand more attention,” he says.

SP2 Penn Top 10 Project Manager Jessica Bautista says that the multi-platform venture seeks to “educate, enlighten, and empower voters, future voters, and policymakers from all walks of life.”

The site includes essays, author biographies and videotaped interviews, animated videos, and voter resources related to the areas addressed in the project: homelessness, gun policy, food deserts, youth aging out of foster care, measuring poverty and well-being, transforming “paid work,” interventions for youth, mass incarceration, mandated mental health treatment, and child poverty.

This semester, 10 graduate students who have been named SP2 Penn Top 10 Fellows will also produce blogs, op-eds, and feature stories about the topics. New content on the website will be rolled out monthly leading up to the release of the “SP2 Penn Top 10” book in Washington, D.C., on May 19.

The user-friendly workbook will feature all 10 abridged essays, statistics, policy recommendations, and resources for voters, says Bautista, who is also communications and public relations officer in SP2’s Office of Institutional Advancement.

The first essay featured on the site is called “Ending Homelessness Now. Written by Dennis Culhane, the Dana and Andrew Stone Chair in Social Policy Professor in SP2, the piece explores tangible and evidence-based ways that the United States can end homelessness among veterans and nonveterans. An exclusive video interview of Culhane and an animated video accompany the piece.