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York College students will be able to work alongside an expert in public policy to study local policies and help contribute to the York community through the opening of a public policy institute. The institute will be opened with a grant from the Arthur J. and Lee R. Glatfelter Foundation.

The institute is a joint program through the Department of History and Political Science and the Center for Community Engagement and is set to open in the summer of 2017.

The purpose of starting the institute is to educate students on the local legislative process and to encourage them to be more involved democratically in their communities, according to Dominic DelliCarpini, the dean for the Center for Community Engagement.

"I think that one of the goals of all research that we do as academics is to create a better community," DelliCarpini said. "This will allow us to more directly complete that."

A postdoctoral fellow would be hired to work in the Arthur J. Glatfelter Institute for Public Policy to research local policies and legislature. The fellow would spend two years with the institute and also would teach in the Department of History and Political Science, according to department chair John Altman. The individual, who will be hired before the summer of 2017, will teach one introductory course as well as an upper-level course that the fellow would design based on their research and interests.

Students from York College will be able to work in the institute as research assistants, for projects in class and just if they have an interest in getting involved. Altman said the opportunity for students to work in that capacity will greatly add to their resumes, ultimately helping them with graduate applications or future career endeavors.

"The students themselves are thoughtful, creative, fresh minds, and they're very enthusiastic about doing work that helps the community that their college is located in," Altman said. "They can then take these skills and hit the ground running when they end up in their career path."

DelliCarpini said the program would work heavily with the community to ensure that work being done will end up helping York City, York County and the surrounding region in general. They may turn to the community for focus groups in research projects or for community discussions before the institute even opens to ensure that research is done on policies that will help the area, he explained.

Students will have the opportunity to research the effects of current policies and legislation, make predictions about proposed policies and even propose changes themselves to local lawmakers. In a news release, state Reps. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City, and Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, expressed their support for the institute.

“As lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and alumni of York College, we are both excited by this concept and have ample, meaningful policy work that the students could contribute to," they said.

DelliCarpini said the institute hopes to partner with other organizations and people in the community as well, such as the mayor's office, the York City Planning Commission and other areas of city government. The public policy institute would work to study the best outcomes for both elected officials and the community.

"(York College) will be able to participate as good citizens and solve community problems," DelliCarpini said. "We'll also teach the students that it's their obligation to do that kind of work. They're citizens and it's their responsibility to contribute to that kind of work."

Altman added that the work will be nonpartisan and political leanings will not factor into work.

"The institute is not going to have an ideological leaning one way or another. It wants to take issues and advocate for them no matter what end of the political spectrum they come from," Altman said. "We're trying to be as objective as possible and look for solutions for problems in an authentic and honest way."

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