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The 2020 U.S. election, issues and challenges

Through their research and studies, Stanford scholars have closely examined public policies and regulations related to issues that are being debated on the campaign trail – from how to deal with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic to the devastating consequences of wildfires, for example. As their research shows, these are complex problems that require coordinated responses.

For example, when it comes to implementing policy to mitigate the heightened risk of wildfires in the American West, Stanford Law Professor Deborah Sivas says that implementing change requires balancing incentives. 

“Unfortunately, we really don’t have the right combination of public and private incentives and regulations – carrots and sticks, if you will – in place. We are geared up to fight wildfires like we fight wars, with heavy machinery and manpower,” said Sivas, director of Stanford’s Environmental Law Clinic and the Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy Program. 

Similarly, dealing with the economic consequences from the COVID-19 pandemic will also demand a coordinated approach. “Minimizing the damage requires a similar combination of policies: better coordinating disease containment to minimize lost production, identifying critical links in production chains and ensuring that they don’t break and cause cascading failures of companies, and stepping in to fill the gap in lending caused by the growing credit freeze,” said Stanford economist Matthew Jackson.

Amid these extraordinary times of unprecedented global change, here is how Stanford scholarship might inform some of the problems facing the country and the challenges surrounding governance and policymaking today.

Image credit: Getty Images

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