We are happy to announce that in 2023 The Public Policy Fund at Penn State Behrend was renamed the Public Policy Initiative. The name change reflects the true nature of our enterprise, which is to bring together a diversity of perspectives to inform public policy decisions that affect the Erie region and similar communities in the Great Lakes and Ohio River Basin areas. The Initiative draws on the expertise of Behrend Political Science faculty members and those in numerous other disciplines.
We are also happy to report a return of in-person events in addition to the online programming. All events can be viewed on our website.
The Public Policy Bulletin highlights the achievements of the Public Policy Initiative, our Faculty Affiliates, and students for the Academic year of 2022-2023. We are grateful for the continued support of Rev. Charles Brock and Penn State Behrend.
Robert Speel, Ph.D., Director
Lena Surzhko Harned, Ph.D., Associate Director
Events Hosted and Sponsored by the Public Policy Initiative
In 2022-23 PPI hosted a series of events on the issues surrounding the Russian War in Ukraine and its consequences. All events can be viewed on our website.
October 7, 2022: Russian War in Ukraine, Territorial Defense: The Civilian Army
A conversation with Dr. Oleksandr Lukyanenko, associate professor and chair, culture studies, at Korolenko Pedagogical University of Poltava, and since February 24, coordinator of the city's territorial defense unit. The conversation focused on the importance of Poltava in the Russian narrative about Ukraine, the life of the University at times of war, and stories from the front lines of territorial defense.
October 20, 2022: Digital Archiving of the Russian War in Ukraine
A conversation with Dr. Steven Seegel, professor of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, in residence at the U.T. Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (UT CREEES). Founder of the February 24th Archive. Why is it important to keep a digital record of the war? What is an academic activist? How does one fight disinformation and propaganda? And much more.
October 24, 2022: Russian War in Ukraine and Global Food Crisis
The Russian invasion of Ukraine created an unprecedented global food crisis. How has Ukraine and the world responded? We explored these and other questions in a conversation with Dr. Oleg Nivievskyi, an assistant professor and vice-president for economic education at Kyiv School of Economics, Center for Food and Land Use Research.
February 27, 2023: A Conversation with Ukrainian Parliament Member Oleksiy Goncharenko
Goncharenko, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, is also a member of the Ukrainian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and Vice President of the PACE Committee on Immigration, Refugees, and Internally Displaced Persons.
In this conversation, we got an update on the state of Ukraine, the diplomatic efforts, and challenges to aid Ukraine in its defense.
April 5, 2023: Russia's War on Ukraine, Why U.S. Support is Needed and Warranted
Associate Professor Volodymyr Dubovyk from Odesa I. I. Mechnikov National University (scholar, security expert, and transatlantic relations specialist) offered insights into the strategic reasons for the U.S. continued support of Ukraine in its fight against the Russian illegal invasion.
March 16, 2023: Discussion Without Judgement
A Second in the Annual Discussion Series hosted in partnership with The Publix Voice and Penn State Behrend.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to remove constitutional protections on access to abortion will significantly affect women and their families. This holistic discussion on the potential fallout both locally and nationally included Jezree Friend, political analyst; Diedre, community activist; Joshua Shaw, associate professor of philosophy and bioethics; and Kristy Gnibus, educator and community advocate.
Research of Public Policy Faculty Affiliates
Elisa Beshero-Bondar, Ph.D.
Program Chair of Digital Media, Arts, and Technology, Professor of Digital Humanities, Director of the Digital Humanities Lab
Since March 2022, Dr. Elisa Beshero-Bondar has been participating in Saving Ukrainian Heritage Online (SUCHO), a large-scale collective effort, with thousands of volunteers around the world, to archive Ukrainian websites in an effort to preserve their contents when they are at risk of being shut down or removed, or rewritten as part of the Russian invasion and efforts to suppress Ukrainian culture.
On April 25, the Russian military hit the Museum of Local History in Kupyansk, Kharkiv region, with S-300 missiles. The museum was destroyed, and its director killed. Thanks to Dr. Beshero-Bondar and SUCHO, we have the only surviving digital record of the webpage of this museum of local Ukrainian history.
Melanie Hetzel-Riggin, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology and Director of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences
- Hetzel-Riggin, M. D. (2023). Stakeholder group differences on knowledge, attitudes, and perspectives of coordinated community response teams for domestic violence. Violence Against Women.
- Hetzel-Riggin, M. D. (November 2022). Impact of the pandemic on coordinated community responses to domestic violence: Impact on service providers. Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New York, NY.
- Berner, M., & Hetzel-Riggin, M. D. (November 2022). The impact of COVID-19 on police officers' levels of stress, burnout, and institutional betrayal. Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New York, NY. JUNE 2023 5.
- Hetzel-Riggin, M. D., & Berner, M. (November 2022). The relationship among intimate partner violence training, level of implicit biases, & ability to detect coercive control in police officers. Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New York, NY.
- Bargerstock, B., Owodunni, B., Giardina, F., & Hetzel-Riggin, M. D. (November 2022). Understanding and overcoming the barriers for help-seeking of LGBTQAI+ domestic violence survivors. Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New York, NY.
- Hetzel-Riggin, M. D., Giardina, F., Willmes, A., & Berner, M. (August 2022). Meeting them where they are: Understanding the needs of the LGBTQ+ domestic violence survivors. American Psychological Association, Minneapolis, MN.
Sherri A. "Sam" Mason, Ph.D.
Associate Research Professor and Director of Sustainability
Dr. Mason and her students in the Leadership in Sustainability (SUST 200) course in the Fall of 2022 conducted a study titled: COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS: REDUCING LANDFILL WASTE THROUGH FOOD WASTE COMPOSTING & CURBSIDE GLASS RECYCLING.
Using the data obtained through a summer curbside pilot program, which engaged a hundred residents from two different neighborhoods within the City of Erie, the students produced a cost-benefit analysis of waste diversion.
Based on lessons learned in other communities, the group recommends the City of Erie move to a containerized, mechanized curbside waste and recycling collection process, which would act to save additional monies, as well as improve employee safety, increasing recycling participation rates, and decreasing urban litter. The cost-benefit analysis indicates that such a program would yield a net return on investment (ROI) within seven years.
Students in the SUST 200 Waste Diversion class presented their cost-benefit analysis to the City Council of the city of Erie on Wednesday, December 7. The presentation was covered on local television, as well as the local newspaper, Erie Times-News.
Lena Surzhko Harned, Ph.D.
Associate Teaching Professor of Political Science
Since February 2022, Lena Surzhko Harned has provided many commentaries about the Russian war in Ukraine. This work continued in the 2022-23 academic year. She’s given numerous invited talks and interviews to local, national, and international outlets, including Erie News Now, WWL First News, New Orleans, LA, and Brasil 247, Brazil.
- Surzhko-Harned, L. (2023). "I am a Ukrainian American political scientist, and this is what the past year of war has taught me about Ukraine, Russia and defiance." The Conversation.
- Surzhko-Harned, L., & Nykodým, J. (2023). "Why the 'Kosovo precedent' was a gateway for Russia’s abuse of international law." The Loop.
- Surzhko-Harned, L., & Nykodým, J. (2023). "Russian Abuses of International Law: The Kosovo Precedent and R2P." World Orders Forum.
- Surzhko-Harned, L., & Kasianeneko, N. (California State U Fresno). (May 19, 2023). "The Fluidity of National Identity among Russian-Speaking Ukrainians," Annual Meeting of Association for the Study of Nationalities, Association for the Study of Nationalities, New York, NY.
- Surzhko-Harned, L. (panel participant). (May 18, 2023). "Accountability for Sexual Violence Committed during the Russian Invasion of Ukraine," Annual Meeting of Association for the Study of Nationalities, Association for the Study of Nationalities, New York, NY.
- Surzhko-Harned, L. (April 18, 2023). “Russian War in Ukraine: What lessons we have learned in a year,” Allegheny College Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics.
- Surzhko-Harned, L., & Nykodým, J. (Masaryk University). (April 13, 2023). "The role of Kosovo precedent in Russia's misinterpretation of R2P," Annual Meeting of Midwest Political Science Association, Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, Il.
- Surzhko-Harned, L. (February 27, 2023). “Russian War in Ukraine: One Year Later,” Jefferson Educational Society.
- Surzhko-Harned, L. (February 9, 2023). “Russian War in Ukraine,” American Association of University Women, Pennsylvania Chapter.
- Surzhko-Harned, L. (September 12, 2022). “Russian War in Ukraine,” American Association of University Women, Erie, PA. JUNE 2023 7
- Surzhko-Harned, L. (September 12, 2022). “Stand with Ukraine,” Keynote, Allegheny Health Network, Saint Vincent, Erie, PA. Keynote address at the AHN Saint Vincent Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council benefit of recognition.
- Surzhko-Harned, L. (September 8, 2022). “Russian War in Ukraine,” Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees. Keynote address at the fundraiser lunch.
- Surzhko-Harned, L. (June 9, 2022). “Russian War in Ukraine,” Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees. Keynote address at the fundraiser picnic.
- Surzhko-Harned, L. (June 9, 2022). “The Russia/Ukraine Conflict,” Erie County Bar Association.
Student Research and Engagement
Mason Milliard, a senior in Political Science, a scholar at the Schreyer Honors College, Vice President for Pi Sigma Alpha, the Treasurer for the Behrend Schreyer Council, and the Constitutional Review Committee for the Student Government, has successfully defended his honors thesis titled: “The Future Legal Status of The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.”
Abstract: The future legal status of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was called into question because of a legal settlement between Remington Arms
and the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. This thesis answers the question, "Are states going to circumvent PLCAA?" as well as explores the history of guns in the United States and examines the purpose of PLCAA’s creation, attitudes towards PLCAA, and related lawsuits. The history of firearms in the United States includes a few major periods: the origins of the 2nd Amendment, including colonial America and the Revolution; the pre-1930s, including many local and state laws; and the post-1930s, including the beginning of federal firearms legislation to the present. Each of these periods includes crucial events, including new laws, ordinances, and court cases that have led the country to its current point.
Mason is currently interning for the Potter County District Attorney and plans to attend law school.
Jiří Nykodým, a post graduate student in International Relations European Politics at Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, spent the Fall 2022 semester as a visiting scholar at Penn State Behrend, working with Dr. Lena Surzhko Harned on his master’s thesis titled “The Role of Kosovo Precedent in Russia's Abuse of R2P.”
Abstract: The research analyses the role of the “Kosovo precedent” in Russia's mistreatment of the United Nations' concept of responsibility to protect, which
allowed them to justify and thus abuse and undermine fundamental UN principles of sovereignty and self-determination for future interventions. The central thesis
objective is to demonstrate how Russia operates with the concept of R2P while using Kosovo by examining the Russian foreign policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The results of the Fall term work were published in two co-authored articles, in World Orders Forum and the Loop, a blog publication of the European Consortium for Political Research, and a presentation at an annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association in Chicago, IL.
Annual High School Model UN
On April 14, 2023, Penn State Behrend hosted the Annual High School Model UN after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
The students from Collegiate Academy, McDowell High School, North East High School, and Harbor Creek High School discussed the challenges to international law presented by the Russian war in Ukraine in the format of the General Assembly of the UN.
Behrend Model UN President Madison Kwiecinski, and VP Spencer Finley, chaired the event.
Collegiate Academy won the first school prize, and McDowell High School claimed second.