PEER Partnership Expands Education Equity

A new initiative co-sponsored by TSPPPA teams economists, academics and lawyers to promote social progress in higher education.

Peer Project Photo
August 04, 2021

The George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration (TSPPA) co-launched the Postsecondary Equity & Economics Research (PEER) Project, an initiative that unites university economists and academics with higher education lawyers to support research promoting equity and accountability in higher education.

TSPPPA, which is part of GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, is partnering on the project with Columbia University and Student Defense, a program of the nonprofit National Student Legal Defense Network.

The academic portion of the PEER Project will be led by TSPPPA’s Stephanie Cellini,  professor of economics and public policy and public administration.

“Expanding equity in higher education is critical to the social and economic health of our nation, especially during our recovery from the pandemic,” Dr. Cellini said. “State and federal policymakers must do more to ensure institutional accountability while also enhancing equity. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with my colleagues at Columbia and Student Defense to generate new scholarship and policy recommendations that promote student success.”

Student Defense Vice President for Policy Alex Elson, along with Student Defense President Aaron Ament, will lead the PEER Project’s legal policy efforts to promote economic mobility and racial equity in American higher education. 

The project will establish a cohort of scholars and attorneys to identify policy questions and disparities in higher education and to support high-quality research by a diverse group of academics and legal experts. The project’s contributors include leading academics such as Columbia University’s Judith Scott Clayton and Veronica Minaya; Vanderbilt University’s Lesley Turner; the University of Kentucky’s Rajeev Darolia; and Southern Methodist University’s Dominique Baker. The group aims to build a repository of evidence-based research and develop a policy agenda that primarily addresses equity and accountability through underused regulatory authority and civil rights law. 

“Ensuring government accountability and protecting students and borrowers from being defrauded and disenfranchised is the cornerstone of our mission,” Student Defense’s Mr. Ament said. “We look forward to partnering with Columbia University and George Washington University to develop policy research and recommendations to protect students from unaffordable student debt and achieve their higher education goals.” 

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