Research at Heller

The Heller School is home to 10 research centers and institutes specializing in a variety of social policy fields and disciplines. Our researchers contribute to the intellectual foundation and scholarship at Heller, bridging the gap between theory and practice.

Five key values encourage us to conduct research that empowers others to make evidence-based change. We prize scientific rigor, incorporating it through quantitative and qualitative testing and analysis in an applied context. We probe new ideas, building on foundational knowledge with bold thinking. We strive for sustainability, finding solutions that ensure lasting structural change without compromising the wellbeing of future generations. We build community, recognizing that the inclusion of different perspectives generates better science.  And we are respectful, refusing to impose our ideas on the communities we work with and for.

In addition to maintaining a portfolio of over $18 million in sponsored research projects, our institutes offer opportunities for student employment, provide specialized courses and run training programs for doctoral students preparing for research careers. We take great pride in the mission-driven, high-impact scientific work done at Heller to bring knowledge to bear on social justice efforts wherever they exist—and wherever they do not. 

Research Institutes and Centers

Schneider Institutes for Health Policy

  • The Institute on Healthcare Systems (IHS) is dedicated to bringing greater knowledge to both private and public policy makers.  This is accomplished through state and national forums, short-term policy studies and research using advanced study designs and analytics.  Our broad expertise on payment options, delivery systems, patient care practices, and quality has allowed us to develop real world organizational solutions, particularly for vulnerable populations.
  • The Institute for Behavioral Health (IBH) focuses on the intersection of health, behavior, and systems of care, with an emphasis on their linkages.  Its underlying premise is that these systems can be better used to promote healthier lifestyles and assist individuals to engage in behaviors which lead to better health.
  • The Institute for Global Health and Development (IGHD) seeks to bring the best research to leaders and policy makers to achieve results at scale with a focus on the poor and social justice.  IGHD does direct government advising, policy-relevant research and evaluation, and advocacy to impact policy making in partnership with like-minded institutions in the U.S., the international community and the developing world.

Institute on Assets and Social Policy

The Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) is dedicated to advancing economic opportunity, security and equity for individuals and families, particularly those left out of the economic mainstream. Our work is premised on the understanding that assets provide the tangible resources that help individuals move out of and stay out of poverty, as well as inspiring effective individual, community, state and national actions through the belief that security, stability, and upward mobility are indeed possible. Working in close partnership with constituencies, state and federal policy makers, grassroots advocates, private philanthropies, and the media, IASP bridges the worlds of academic research, organizational practice, and government policy-making. IASP works to strengthen the leadership of lawmakers, practitioners, researchers and others by linking the intellectual and program components of asset-building policies.

Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy

The mission of the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy (ICYFP) is to conduct and disseminate policy relevant research on the well-being, health and development of children and their families. ICYFP’s vision is that all children should be able or enabled to achieve the Institute of Medicine’s (2004) definition of children’s health, that is, to develop and realize their potential, satisfy their needs, and develop the capacities that allow them to interact successfully with their biological, physical, and social environments.

There are vast global, national and local inequities in the ability of children to achieve health. ICYFP research seeks to understand the causes of these inequities and to offer program and policy solutions to alleviate them. ICYFP has a special focus on vulnerable children and their families, including those children who have fewer opportunities for achieving health due to their race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status or disability status. 

Center for Youth and Communities

Established at the Heller School in 1983, the Center for Youth and Communities works to improve the quality of education, workforce development, and community systems in order to prepare young people for college, work, and life.  By combining scholarly research and practical experience with an emphasis on young people whose supports and opportunities have been few, the Center’s work is guided by three goals:
  • Using science-based research to improve the quality and impact of youth programs and policies.
  • Strengthening governance, leadership and management in philanthropy, the nonprofit sector and socially responsible business.
  • Developing and using outcome-based planning and evaluation methods to deepen public understanding, strengthen and prove the efficacy of particular programs, and shape policies.

Lurie Institute for Disability Policy

The Lurie Institute for Disability Policy is dedicated to improving the lives of people with autism and other disabilities across the lifespan through innovative social policies that foster inclusion into the mainstream of society. The Lurie Institute conducts research on disability policy in the United States with a special emphasis on autism, focusing on the lifespan of persons with disabilities and their families, and analyzing policy options for achieving the broadest integration of persons with disabilities into the mainstream of U.S. society, including their own voices in such analyses.
  • Nathan and Toby Starr Center on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. The Nathan and Toby Starr Center collaborates with individuals, families, providers and government officials on research and evaluation that advances inclusive disability programs and policies. Current projects are focused on improving the transition from pediatric to adult health care for youth with autism spectrum disorders, examining caregiver well-being in self-directed waiver programs, investigating the impact of deployment on health care utilization among children with disabilities in military families, and improving health care provision to adults with developmental disabilities. 

Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy

The Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy draws upon scholarship and practitioner experience to inform philanthropy that moves social justice work forward. We engage emerging and established members of the philanthropic community via publications and programming and through coursework and fellowships that provide real-world experience in social justice grantmaking.

Center for Global Development and Sustainability

The Center for Global Development and Sustainability (GDS) is an interdisciplinary and multinational group that advances scholarship and applied research on problems of vulnerability in developing countries as well as in advanced economies. Its core faculty and affiliated researchers include those from varied disciplines of the natural and social sciences, development studies and the humanities. GDS engages in partnerships in the U.S. and throughout the world that build understanding and expand capacity for sustainable and emancipatory development.

Our biannual research journal: The Heller Social Policy Impact Report

spring 2017 impact report cover with abstract image of Heller main windows

Spring 2017 Issue

This issue covers research and related activities conducted from July 1 to December 31, 2016.

image of fall 2016 impact report with abstract architectural image

Fall 2016 Issue

This issue covers research and related activities conducted from January 1 to June 30, 2016.

cover of the spring 2016 impact report with image of snow on a statue

Spring 2016 Issue

This issue covers research and related activities conducted from July 1 to December 31, 2015.