Combining lessons from areas such as economics, business, medicine, public policy, social work, and sociology, the Social Policy Institute (SPI) at Washington University provides a systems-level understanding of policy problems and promotes systems-level solutions.

The Institute aims to build upon existing international collaborations and establish new partnerships, further enhancing Washington University’s reputation as a global research leader. SPI values the robust array of its partnerships—ranging from local St. Louis nonprofits, to national government agencies in the U.S. and abroad, to corporations that affect the daily lives of people in communities.

Institute Values

At the Social Policy Institute, we aspire to fulfill our mission and vision by committing ourselves to being:

INCLUSIVE: We create safe spaces for people from all backgrounds and histories to engage in changing systems. We dedicate time and space across settings to listen to and integrate different ideas. We actively foster an organization that welcomes diverse voices, elevates the accomplishments of marginalized people, and advances racial equity and justice for all.

RESPECTFUL: We honor the strengths of our colleagues and partners and appreciate their differences. We recognize the unique contributions of individuals that work together to yield excellent results, growth and social change. We take responsibility for our actions, being careful to avoid inflicting unintended consequences on others and ensuring credit where it is due.

EMPOWERING: We change systems that restrict people from reaching their goals by sharing power with those negatively affected by or left out of social and economic systems. We aim to use our resources to amplify the voices of colleagues, collaborators and partners from marginalized communities and invest in professional development opportunities for staff to expand our understanding of power and actively seek to share it with others. Starting with the local St. Louis community and building the practice as our work expands globally, we keep empowerment at the forefront of what we do.

COLLABORATIVE: We collaborate as individuals, as teams, and across organizations by seeking and sharing expertise. We insist upon diverse perspectives and communicate with integrity and respect. We hold ourselves accountable to our commitments, ask for accountability from our collaborators, and offer to do the same for our partners.

SUSTAINABLE: We strive for balanced growth as we continue to develop and matureorganizationally, professionally, and personally. As we expand our resources and capacities, we will ensure there is space to accomplish priorities, care for self and others, and explore new opportunities to support the achievement of our mission and vision.

What is Social Policy?

Social policy focuses on translating the best ideas from across disciplines into sustainable solutions for real-world problems. The underlying aims of social policy work are to develop and promote public policy grounded in equity and addressing human needs across the life span to achieve an inclusive society that is socially, racially, and economically just.

Social policy research focuses on the various ways in which the world’s societies meet people’s needs for security, education, work, health, and wellbeing. By applying the lessons learned in research, social policy addresses global challenges that arise and evolve through social, political, economic, and environmental change.

Monthly Newsletter Archive

View an archive of SPI monthly newsletters here.