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Problem Solving

From Interim Dean Andrew Giacomazzi

The School of Problem Solving

Problems. We’ve all got plenty of them. In fact, for many of us, problems seem to be the one thing there’s no shortage of these days. And whether we are talking about a housing crisis, traffic, inflation, war, misogyny, climate change or a global health crisis, solutions are something we could all use more of.

In the School of Public Service, we are working diligently to train our students to tackle the most vexing problems of our time. In fact, we like to say that SPS doesn’t just stand for The School of Public Service; it also stands for the School of Problem Solving.

In this issue of Public Interest, we’ll discuss the 7th Annual Idaho Public Policy Survey with Dr. Matthew May of our Idaho Policy Institute. This statewide survey asks Idahoans about the issues that matter most to them, providing Idaho’s leaders and decision makers with unbiased data on issues such as growth, housing, transportation, state budgeting, taxes, education, the environment, and COVID-19.

We’ll also tell you about a course taught by SPS faculty which uses the current housing crisis in the Treasure Valley as a learning lab on how to study this crisis that hits so close to home. We’ll share an exciting project in which we partnered with a community organization to counter hate. And we’ll introduce you to Frank Church scholars, gifted students with great potential for public service.

Many of the problems we face today were unheard of just a few years ago. And the problems of the future will likely be different from those we are experiencing now. This is why gaining skills and an understanding of the process of finding solutions is so vital. In the School of Public Service we are striving through our research and teaching to be a resource for Idaho and beyond, training a new generation of leaders to tackle our most important challenges. Working, as always, in the public interest.

Thanks for reading,

Andrew Giacomazzi
Interim Dean, School of Public Service
Boise State University

With Dr. Matthew May, Idaho Policy Institute

Academics Talking Academics in Elevators

In another exciting episode of Academics Talking Academics in (virtual) Elevators, School of Public Service Interim Dean Andy Giacomazzi and Matthew May, Research Scholar at the Idaho Policy Institute and School of Public Service Survey Research Director, discuss:

  • The Statewide Survey. Did anything surprise you in the findings?
  • How does the survey benefit the state of Idaho?
  • What kind of problems are you trying to help Idaho’s decision-makers tackle?
  • How can Idaho leaders or decision makers commission a survey from you?
SPS Faculty Teach Courses on Housing Crisis

Housing Opportunities for All

Everyone needs housing. But growth in the Treasure Valley has contributed to a housing squeeze with few opportunities and high costs for many households. A Vertically Integrated Project taught by two School of Public Service faculty members investigates the Treasure Valley housing crisis, helping students hone their skills in problem solving, teamwork, and leadership.

Housing Opportunities for All is taught by Vanessa Fry, Director of the Idaho Policy Institute and Krista Paulsen, Director of the Urban Studies and Community Development Program. Boise State’s Vertically Integrated Projects bring together students from multiple disciplines and skill areas to address real-world problems.

SPS Student and Faculty write for Blue Review

Elevating Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Efforts in Idaho

“Findings from Idaho’s first Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons report may be surprising to some, but come as less of a surprise to those who have been investigating cases, supporting families, and collaborating to raise awareness and responses. The average missing persons rate for Idaho Indigenous persons (18.99 per 100,000 persons) is almost double the rate for the state.”

In a recent article in The Blue Review, School of Public Service Ph.D. student Mel Fillmore (Hunkpapa, Lakota and citizen of The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North and South Dakota) and Lane Gillespie, associate professor of Criminal Justice in the School of Public Service, examine the challenges and opportunities related to this important issue.

Read Elevating Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Efforts in Idaho in The Blue Review

Support Frank Church Scholars

The Frank Church Public Service Scholarship and Internship are open to degree-seeking Boise State University students. Priority will be given to School of Public Service students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and with a demonstrated potential for public service.

Awards may be for scholarships on campus, in Washington, D.C. or abroad. Applicants should first apply on-line at Boise State Financial Services. For more information, please contact

Meet the 2021-2022 Frank Church Scholars.

Pictured: Dzenita Spiodic. Dzenita used her Frank Church Public Service Scholarship and Internship to work with refugees in Palestine last year with Project Hope.

Donate to support Frank Church Scholars
Boise State works to promote Alternate Reality Game

Partnering with Wassmuth Center for Human Rights

A team of Boise State faculty, including our own Dr. Isaac Castellano, is working in partnership with the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights to produce an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) housed at the Anne Frank Memorial in Boise. The ARG will engage users in the democratic value of non-violent political participation and add an interactive digital experience to the memorial, the only one of its kind in the U.S.

Douglas Brinkley to speak at Frank Church Institute dinner April 25

Presidential historian to visit Boise State

Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley will give remarks and be presented with the Frank and Bethine Church Award for Public Service at a dinner celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. The award, bestowed by the School of Public Service’s Frank Church Institute, is presented annually to individuals who devote long and distinguished careers to public service.

This year’s dinner will be held at 7 p.m. April 25 in the Stueckle Sky Center Double R Ranch Club Room. Reservations can be made on the Frank Church Institute website or by calling the Frank Church Institute at (208) 426-2941.

Dr. Brinkley will speak on “Silent Spring Revolution: Why Environmentalism is a Winning Issue for Democracy.”

Click here to register for the awards dinner.

More about Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley and this event
April 16, 2022

Celebration of the life of Dr. John C. Freemuth

Please join family, friends, and Boise State colleagues as we celebrate the life of former School of Public Service faculty member, Distinguished Professor, and Cecil D. Andrus Endowed Chair for Environment and Public Lands, John Freemuth.

John passed away suddenly on May 2, 2020; and due to ongoing Public Health concerns, we delayed gathering to recognize John’s life and many accomplishments. As time has passed, plans have also been made to continue John’s legacy through a number of new efforts.

To celebrate John’s life, share an afternoon with others who loved him and learn more about plans to continue his legacy, you are invited to attend this celebration on April 16.

Make a gift online to honor Dr. John C. Freemuth

Register to attend the Celebration of the Life of Dr. John C. Freemuth