The Public Policy Institute (PPI) was founded in 1999 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan, independent research and outreach organization. The mission of the PPI is to generate effective public policy responses and alternatives to important political, administrative and social problems that profoundly affect the quality of life in Western North Carolina.
Consistent with the University of North Carolina Tomorrow Commission’s call for outreach and engagement, faculty, staff, and students in the PPI use the tools of empirical social science to understand and address public policy problems. Although some projects touch on national policy issues, our focus is at the state and local levels. PPI staff write for multiple audiences enabling research projects to reach as many constituencies as possible.
In keeping with the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan, the PPI helps undergraduate and graduate students connect the classroom with real-world applications. The specific student contributions vary from project to project, but students frequently collect data, co-author reports and articles, and act as full partners in the research process. Students also interact with external constituents delivering policy recommendations and becoming part of the policy process.
As an explicitly collaborative organization, the PPI welcomes partnerships with local governments and non-profits as well as with faculty throughout the Western Carolina University campus.