Researching Public Law and Public Policy in the Public Interest

CLiME at 2: Fellowships, Interdisciplinary Partnership and Research Collaboratives

Rutgers University, Center for Law and Justice. Jeff Goldberg/Esto

CLiME at 2: Fellowships, Interdisciplinary Partnership and Research Collaboratives

2015 marks the second full year of operations for the Center on Law in Metropolitan Equity, and we are busy expanding the discourse on structural—often place-based—inequality in the Greater Rutgers University Newark region and across metropolitan America.  Thanks to the support of Chancellor Nancy Cantor and Provost Todd Clear and a growing partnership with the Graduate School under Dean Kyle Farmbry’s stewardship, CLiME has been able to embark on a broad array of exciting (and challenging) new activities that demonstrate our mission to connect law with other disciplines in order to produce research and policy perspectives on some of the most confounding equity issues of our time.  While we continue to publish the work of our own students, we now look forward to publishing the work of emerging and established scholars from across Rutgers University.  Here is a partial list of initiatives, projects and activities underway in 2015:

o   The CLiME/GS-N EQUITY AND OPPORTUNITY FELLOWSHIPS.  In partnership with the Graduate School-N, CLiME selected 10 graduate and professional students from a range of programs to pursue a year-long paid fellowship on structural inequality.  Students from law, American Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, the School of Public Affairs and Administration, School of Criminal Justice, Sociology and other programs participate in three phases of a year directed toward producing publishable scholarship on issues of their choice.  During the fall semester, the E&O fellows attended four substantive workshops taught by distinguished Rutgers faculty from an array of disciplines (see below).  During the spring semester, E&O fellows chose a course in- or outside their discipline that will aid them in their paper topic.  During the summer they write a publishable paper under the supervision of an adviser, who may come from a different unit than the one in which they are enrolled.  Select papers will be presented at the CLiME Annual Scholarship Conference in the fall.

  •   Workshop 1, Education Law and Policy: Paul Tractenberg (School of Law-Newark)
  •   Workshop 2, Fair Housing: Beryl Satter (History) and Jon Dubin (School of Law-Newark)
  •   Workshop 3, Opportunity and Public Finance: Roland Anglin (Cornwall Center on Metropolitan Studies) and Henry Coleman (Bloustein)
  •   Workshop 4, Public Health: Jennifer Valverde (School of Law-Newark), Jeff Backstrand (SPAA-Public Health) and Patricia Findley (Social Work)

o   NEW RESEARCH COLLABORATIVES.  CLiME is embarking on several long-term research projects in collaboration with other academic experts at Rutgers and beyond.

1.      Fair Housing and Equity.  Continuing our association with experts at the Bloustein School and other statewide organizations cooperating in a HUD-sponsored consortium called Together North Jersey (TNJ), we will use the network of data assembled as part of the mandated Fair Housing and Equity Assessment to develop new tools for project and neighborhood research for use by HUD grantees, municipalities and researchers.

2.      DIMIs, the Munies in the Middle.  With nationally noted metropolitan scholar David Rusk, CLiME will conduct research on the role of what we call “DIMI”s (Diverse and Inclusive, Moderate-Income municipalities), the kinds of urban-suburbs that are engines of demographic growth in New Jersey and across the country but struggling with fiscal distress.

3.      Asset and Opportunity Mapping.  Growing out of both initiatives above, CLiME is working to develop an interactive mapping tool that will allow public users to our site the ability to map the ingredients of place-based opportunity—e.g., the locations of supermarkets and social service agencies, high job growth centers and transportation infrastructure, free mental health services and libraries—while overlayering economic and demographic data.

4.      Trauma, Learning Challenges and Life Chances in Concentrated Poverty.  CLiME is assembling a team of multidisciplinary experts to conduct a long-term study of the prevalence of trauma-related disorders among school children in our region, especially in areas of concentrated poverty.  Many students carry to school with them the trauma of violence, abuse and separation—much of it severe enough to induce disorders such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder.  These in turn impair the ability to learn.  Over time, trauma can negatively affect physical health in chronic and significant ways.  CLiME will study both prevalence of trauma-related conditions and schools’ current legal obligations to detect and treat these conditions.  Where necessary, CLiME will also advocate structural remedies that reach the environmental conditions that produce so much psychological pain.

o   NEW RESEARCH PROJECTS: Traffic regulation, School Achievement Gaps and Foreclosures.  Since the fall, we have embarked on several discrete research projects inside and out of the Law School.  Motivated by some of the underlying metropolitan tensions in St. Louis County revealed by the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown by Police Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO, law student Michael Tomasino authored a report on traffic regulation and revenue generation in New Jersey.  Joanna Maulbeck, a recent graduate of Rutgers Global Affairs doctoral program, is writing about achievement gaps in New Jersey.  Law student and CLiME Fellow Wan Cha continues his research and writing on foreclosures in the Greater-Newark area and documenting municipal harms for the purpose of understanding how eminent domain might apply to the continuing crisis here.

o   INITIATIVE ON INTERDISTRICT CHOICE with Professor Elise Boddie.  Affiliated faculty member Elise Boddie, a nationally recognized expert on civil rights and education law, will head a modeling project to research modes of producing interdistrict choice plans for students at all economic levels in a region.

o   CONFERENCES: Police Abuse and Community Trust and the CLiME Annual Scholarship Conference.  On February 12th, CLiME co-sponsored with Seton Hall Law School’s Black Law Students Association “Badges, Guns and Trust,” a panel discussion on police abuse and the growing crisis of mistrust across American communities.  In the fall, at the close of the E&O Fellowship, select fellows will present their papers along with a keynote address on structural inequality.

Finally, we are pleased to welcome to the CLiME team graduate student Erica Tom, who has been an invaluable resource in fundraising training and efforts, as well as Anthony Cirilo, also a graduate student (MFA) and our new communications coordinator. 

We’re looking forward to another great year.  Thank you for your support.


David D. Troutt, Director                     

Professor of Law and John J. Francis Scholar