In the early ’80s, A. Alfred Taubman offered Brown University a generous grant and a challenge to create a program that “will promote — among increasing numbers of undergraduate students — an understanding of the theory, experience and practice of our country’s social, economic, and political institutions…and prepare these young people to function as leaders in the organizations of the 21st Century.”
A thirteen-member committee rose to Mr. Taubman’s challenge by creating an innovative undergraduate concentration to be housed at the new A. Alfred Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions. Public policy concentrators continue to explore the field of public policy through multidisciplinary coursework in economics, statistics, ethics, politics, and sociology.
Since the Taubman Center graduated its first class in 1984, the Center’s accomplished faculty have introduced dozens of new courses and held true to their core value that doing public policy improves the quality of teaching and research. On-going interactions between faculty members and policy-making organizations at the local, state, and national level has kept coursework relevant and practical. The hands-on emphasis also extends to all public policy students as they apply newly acquired knowledge during valuable internship experiences.
The Providence Plan, a comprehensive program created in 1992 to fight the causes of poverty in Providence, is an important part of the Taubman Center’s past and present. A former Center professor served as the first executive director of the Plan, a Center director emeritus served as chairman of the board of directors, and the Plan’s current executive director, Patrick McGuigan, is a visiting lecturer. The Taubman Center contributed to the Plan’s effort to consolidate information from a number of federal, state, city, and neighborhood agencies into a single comprehensive database. The resulting database and Geographic Information System maps continue to be widely used by agencies throughout the state.
Numerous visitors have brought fresh points of view to the Taubman Center throughout the years, including MSNBC host Chris Matthews, former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, former Attorney General Janet Reno, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, James Carville, and Ted Turner, to name just a few.