Center issues policy briefs based on student research, analysis

Logan Shewmaker, a DMC research assistant who is majoring in political science.

Students in the Florida State University College of Social Sciences and Public Policy are learning firsthand what it is like to play a significant role in developing policy positions by assisting in the production of a series of planned policy briefs.

Published by the college’s DeVoe L. Moore Center (DMC), the briefs — called the DMC Perspective — will be mailed to all Florida legislators and available to the media and general public.

“Students are more than capable of conducting policy-relevant research and are a largely untapped resource,” said Sam Staley, director of the DMC. He noted that the center currently has 10 students working on projects ranging from the fiscal impacts of Cascades Park in Tallahassee to state spending and tax policy. “We engage our students as interns and through independent studies to conduct original research under the supervision of seasoned professional staff. The product is both high quality and important to the public debate in Florida.

All the articles published in the DMC Perspective series are first published on the center’s policy blog after being subjected to rigorous internal review. This allows students to learn firsthand what it’s like to operate in a professional work environment and active think tank, according to Staley.

“This is an important aspect of our Get More Than a Degree initiative,” said David W. Rasmussen, dean of the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy. “These students are going beyond their classroom activities to take on high levels of research. Not only are they learning to use available studies and resources to develop well-reasoned policy positions, they also are getting their names out there to policy makers and elected officials. This gives them a major leg up on their future careers while still in their undergraduate years at FSU.”

The March edition of the DMC Perspective focuses on the issue of sports stadium subsidies, with analysis by FSU student Logan Shewmaker, a DMC research assistant who is majoring in political science. It also includes an op-ed by DMC Director Sam Staley, previously published in the Tallahassee Democrat.

Shewmaker’s research and analysis on sports stadiums notes that such projects typically return less in tax revenue than the subsidies the state gives out for them — just 30 cents return on investment for every tax dollar spent, according to a study he cited by the Florida Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research. The issue is relevant for the 2015 Legislative session because in late February, a motion was tabled to cut sports incentives from the state’s annual budget.

“Willing private investors will be better suited to fund stadium construction,” Shewmaker writes. “Tax dollars would be better spent on education, infrastructure or a host of other projects and services before sports stadiums.”

The full DMC Perspective on sports stadium subsidies can be viewed at The site will contain all future policy briefs from the center.

Future issues of the DMC Perspective are expected to take on public pension reform, UBER and taxi regulation, and economic development policy.

The college’s Get More Than a Degree initiative comprises programs and activities that enhance undergraduate education beyond the classroom. Students have opportunities for leadership training seminars, acclaimed lecturers on a variety of key contemporary topics, networking with alumni and professionals in potential career fields, international study and service projects funded by donor support, and intensive research experience not usually afforded to undergraduates, as with the DMC policy briefs.