Goldman School of Public Policy - University of California, Berkeley

Student Research

The Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement Fellowship provides financial and programmatic support for student projects advancing the Center’s mission. Each fellow submits a policy brief summarizing their research for the Center’s library. 

Emily Vaughan (MPP '14)

Emily Vaughan is a Washington D.C.-based policy analyst and communications professional. Currently, she serves as Manager, District/National Councils at the UrbanLand Institute where she supports a network of more than 70 local chapters through facilitating information sharing, building peer-to-peer networks, and developing communication programs to share best practices. Prior to joining ULI, Emily was a researcher with Smart Growth America where she focused on state transportation and land use policy and well as downtown economic development trends. She began her career in nonprofit services and has worked with more than 100 nonprofits on online advocacy and fundraising campaigns.

Read Emily Vaughan's Policy Brief "Technology and Public Engagement" here.


Orville Thomas (MPP '13)

Orville Thomas was recently awarded the title Master of Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy. Interested in how political issues can be better explained to the public, Orville is researching how the City of Vallejo is attempting to increase interaction between its residents and government with “PB Vallejo”, the nation’s first city-wide participatory budging project.  His research focuses on increasing civic and political engagement among Vallejo residents while also focusing on how the city attempts to inform residents about government decisions. The ultimate goal of his research is to help create a communications and civic engagement strategy to help the City of Vallejo avoid legislation and policies which would lead them back into bankruptcy.


[Editor's Note: you can read more about the Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement's involvement with PB Vallejo here]

Jessie Oettinger (MPP '11) 

Jesse Oettinger is a Master of Public Policy Candidate at the Goldman School of Public Policy. Jessie's research is on priority-driven budgeting, a process that solicits citizen feedback on public spending priorities to empower decision-makers to build more strategic budgets. Working for the Center for Priority Based Budgeting, Jessie's project focuses on the motivating factors and early outcomes of communities which have engaged in priority-driven budgeting.

[Editor's Note: Jessie Oettinger recently updated CCDE volunteers on the impact of working with the Center: "This summer I worked at Standard & Poor's with their local government group. I am now working for another Goldman School alum at an organization called Collaborative Economics. I’m a project manager working with a team of people across the country monitoring the grantee sites that received stimulus money from the Dept. of Labor. Both my summer internship and my APA experience on projects for the Center were directly relevant to getting me where I am, and I am so grateful. When I applied for my position at Collaborative Economics, all the partners actually read my APA Project paper and wanted to talk about it."]


Sarah Swanbeck (MPP '11)

Sarah Swanbeck is a Master of Public Policy Candidate at the Goldman School of Public Policy. She is interested in government reform, particularly methods for improving the long-term stability of state and local government finance. Her research with the Center for Civility and Democratic Engagement focuses on participatory budgeting in California and how involving citizens in the process of prioritizing public spending may result in more efficient, equitable outcomes. Prior to coming to Berkeley, Sarah spent two years as a Research Associate for the Public Policy Institute of California, where she focused on California environmental policy issues. She has a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Italian from Wellesley College.

Doug Spencer (MPP ’07)

Doug Spencer (MPP ’07) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy program at UC Berkeley. Doug's primary research applies economic models to public law and to questions of constitutional design with a focus on election law. Doug is also interested in the management and administration of higher education and has conducted research for the Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement on the history and state of Town-Gown relations in America.