Research Initiatives

The Center for Public Policy is a research unit as well as an academic unit that offers a Master of Science in Public Policy and a Master of Science in Environmental Policy. We are especially active in the areas of community economic development, urban initiatives, and urban sustainability.


Urban Informatics

Symposium on Urban Informatics: Exploring Smarter Cities

The Center for Public Policy, in conjunction with the iSchool, hosted a symposium on Urban Informatics in June 2013.

For more information, please visit the Symposium website.

Urban Sustainability

Our work with The Academy of Natural Sciences' Center for Environmental Policy

The Center for Public Policy works in conjunction with The Center for Environmental Policy at The Academy of Natural Sciences presents evening Town Square programs and Urban Sustainability Forums on environmental and sustainability issues. All programs are free and open to the public.

For more information, please visit The Academy's website.

Community Economic Development

Our work with Philadelphia Business Improvement Districts

In 2010 the Center for Public Policy and the School of Law hosted a one-day symposium on Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in Philadelphia. The symposium, Business Improvement Districts and the Evolution of Urban Governance, provided an opportunity for BID directors, staff and board members, as well as city officials, economic development professionals and scholars to gather to explore the role that BIDs have played in shaping local economic development here in Philadelphia. This conference laid the framework for the Center for Public Policy's continued research in the area of local economic development, particulary with respect to Business Improvement Districts and commercial corridor development in Philadelphia. Case studies on Philadelphia's sixteen business improvement districts were published in the Drexel Law Review (Fall 2012 - Volume 3, Number 1) as a result of the symposium, and are available for download on the Kline School of Law website.

The guidebook Starting a Business Improvement District in Philadelphia, a joint project between the Philadelphia Department of Commerce and the Center for Public Policy, is the final product of a year-long professional development series for directors and staff of the city's existing Business Improvement Districts. The program, which ran from February to December 2011, was hosted and facilitated by the Center for Public Policy with funding from the Department of Commerce. This guidebook was developed as a resource for individuals and groups hoping to learn more about the process of creating and re-authorizing Business Improvement Districts in Philadelphia.

Our work with cooperatives

On June 13, 2012, two hundred people participated in a successful one-day conference at Drexel University, in partnership with the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance that explored what the urban areas of Philadelphia and Madison, and rural areas in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, can learn from one another about building cooperatives and cooperative networks, and what cooperatives contribute to cities, regions, and states.

Speakers included:

  • Gar Alperovitz, Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Policical Economy, University of Maryland
  • Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), author of the National Cooperative Development Act of 2011 (H.R. 3677)
  • Paul Soglin, Mayor, City of Madison, Wisconsin
  • Michael Swack, Professor of Economics and Management, Carsey Institute, University of New Hampshire
  • Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Associate Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development, John Jay College Department of African American Studies
  • Steve Dubb, Research Director, The Democracy Collaborative

The conference included breakout sessions and workshops that examined specific cooperatives in detail, comparing those in Pennsylvania (mostly from Philadelphia) and those in Wisconsin (mostly from Madison). Research will be published by the University of Wisconsin Extension.

Case Studies included:

From Pennsylvania:

From Wisconsin:

Our work with West Philadelphia Commercial Corridors

Throughout 2012, Drexel University's Center for Public Policy partnered with the Local Initiatives Support Council (LISC), SCI-West and The Enterprise Center to facilitate the SCI-West Corridors Connect certificate program, linking business association leaders from commercial corridors in West Philadelphia to training and assistance to help strengthen their organizations and bring new businesses and customers to their corridors.

The goal of Corridors Connect was to convene and strengthen business associations on each of six West Philadelphia commercial corridors:

  • Lancaster Avenue, from 34th to 44th Street
  • Baltimore Avenue, from 43rd to 50th Street
  • 52nd Street, from Baltimore Avenue to Arch Street
  • 60th Street, from Catherine to Arch Streets
  • 48th and Spruce Streets/45th and Walnut Streets
  • 40th Street, between Market and Locust Streets

The training and certificate program consisted of six half-day monthly sessions in 2012. Course topics included:

  • Business Association Governance
  • Marketing and Promoting the Commercial Corridor
  • Maximizing the Impact of Business Association Services
  • Stakeholder Communication
  • Managing the Retail Mix
  • Funding and Grants

For more information, please visit the SCI-West blog.