Get Involved

Whether you attend a Penn Wharton B-School for Public Policy seminar in-person, or you want access to the faculty expertise outside of the classroom, there are many ways to engage.

Faculty Meetings

If you are interested in speaking directly with one of the faculty experts, please contact Andrew Coopersmith, Managing Director of Penn Wharton PPI, to check on the professor’s availability.


  • Penn Wharton PPI Faculty Affiliate, Professor Tom Baker

    Regulating Robo-Advisors

    Professor Tom BakerOctober 20, 2017
    Financial “robo advisors”—automated services that rank, or match consumers to, financial products on a personalized basis, sometimes in addition to selling or providing educational information about these products—have gained significant attention in the investment industry. But there has not yet been a consensus on how to regulate them. Robo advisors have the potential to equal or exceed the quality of human advisors, but they don’t fit into the category of fiduciary, and therefore are not currently held to the same regulatory standard that humans advisors are. Nonetheless, they are subject to systemic risks and the potential for abuses that can hurt consumers. This seminar will explore the regulatory challenges involved in fostering a market that promotes the development of more sophisticated robo advisor technology while also serving and protecting the heterogeneous interests of financial product|regulation
    View summary » In general, a robo advisor can be defined as an automated service that ranks, or matches, consumers to financial products on a personalized basis, sometimes in addition to providing related services such as educating consumers and selling products to them.  Often associated with web-based financial investment services, a robo advisor can also include consumer financial product intermediaries such as automated mortgage brokers and insurance exchanges, as well as lead generation services such as Zillow, NerdWallet, and Although investment-focused robo advisors have received the most scrutiny from regulators, the same promises and regulatory concerns raised by investment robo advisors apply to their insurance and banking counterparts. The benefit of defining robo advisors as a general category of tools that span different financial services sectors is that an inclusive approach will encourage more cross-sharing and collaborative thinking to tackle similar challenges and opportunities, including regulatory questions.
  • Professor Peter Cappelli

    Investing in Human Capital: Who’s Responsible?

    Peter CappelliJuly 21, 2017
    This seminar, presented by Peter Cappelli, will examine various aspects of workforce development: why employer investments in worker training have declined, including the role that tax treatments have played; wage trends; and the value of higher education for the American worker. Some attention also will be given to assessing the effect of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and other incentive|labor|left|podcast|tax
    View summary »

    There has been much discussion in recent years about a skills gap in the U.S., driven largely by employer complaints over filling jobs. The term “skills gap” can mean different things. Usually, it refers to a belief that there is something fundamentally lacking in the labor force. In the typical telling of the skills gap story, schools are failing to educate students effectively and are graduating students who do not have the skills employers need, thus creating a basic skills shortfall in the labor force as a whole. Others who talk about a skills gap really are referring to a skills shortage, meaning that at the current market price for labor, employers cannot hire the people they are looking for. The third sense of a gap entails a skills mismatch, and describes parts of the U.S.—for instance, North Dakota, when energy production there skyrocketed—where labor demand is booming but where people in the region do not have matching job skills. A skills gap, skills shortage, and skills mismatch are all different and theoretically could be going on all at once.

  • Faculty at Wharton

    Insuring High Risks Fairly

    Professor Howard KunreutherJune 23, 2017

    The reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) (set to expire in September) encompasses issues of risk transparency and fairness. There is general agreement that floodplain residents need to know their risk-based insurance premium–and with that information, how to make their homes safer and thus make flood insurance more affordable. This talk, by Professor Howard Kunreuther, will discuss the importance of accurate mapping of flood risk, how to encourage investment in cost effective mitigation measures, and ways to deal with fairness and affordability in designing a flood insurance program for the future. Your familiarity with these topics will be helpful as you review proposed legislation for the NFIP reauthorization.

    behavioral economics|insurance|podcast|right|risk management
    View summary »

    The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which provides federally administered flood insurance, is up for reauthorization in September. Since its inception in 1968, the NFIP has been amended several times. The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 was written to address the insolvency of the NFIP by moving to a risk-based premium model for many homes in flood-prone areas, some of which were being charged a subsidized flood insurance premium. Implementation of Biggert-Waters was delayed, however, with the passage of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014.  With the continued concern over the financial solvency of the NFIP, the reauthorization will need to address two core questions: (1) What does it mean to implement a risk- based premium? And (2) What does it mean to deal with issues of fairness and affordability?

  • Kevin Werbach

    Blockchain: The Rise of Trustless Trust?

    Professor Kevin WerbachMay 19, 2017

    At a time when public confidence in major societal institutions seems to be under siege, the blockchain offers an intriguing new paradigm for establishing trust in human transactions. The blockchain, through its use of secure cryptography and reliance on distributed consensus networks, is the basis for “trustless trust”—that is, it makes it possible for people to trust the output of the blockchain system without trusting any actor within it. The blockchain will need governance mechanisms, however, in order to realize its enormous potential. In this seminar, Professor Kevin Werbach will discuss in more detail how the respective roles of blockchain platforms and more traditional legal mechanisms can be made to work together.

    View summary » Blockchain is a term that is used for a family of distributed ledger technologies (DLT). Although there is one virtual ledger, every participant in the network has a copy, allowing for local control of data and transparency while ensuring all ledgers remain in sync.
  • Professor Jennifer Blouin

    Effects of the U.S. Worldwide Tax Regime on Domestic Investment

    Professor Jennifer BlouinApril 28, 2017

    In 2013, US companies held $2 trillion in indefinitely reinvested earnings abroad. How and why they continue to do this is central to the debate surrounding US international tax policy and carries broader repercussions for the domestic economy. In this lecture, Professor Blouin will speak about differences in corporate tax regimes worldwide; the state of foreign US holdings (including the crucial difference between unrepatriated earnings and cash); corporate inversions and the application of EU “state aid” rules; and implications for corporate tax reform.

    View summary » There are two basic systems for international corporate taxation. The US operates under a worldwide taxation system, in which the US government asserts its right to tax the global income of US resident corporations, whether that income is earned within the US or outside it. The US is the only G7 nation that maintains such a tax system. The majority of other nations in the world use a territorial taxation regime. A territorial regime embodies a source-based system where countries only tax business activity that happens within their borders.
  • Penn Wharton PPI Faculty Affiliate, Professor Joao F. Gomes

    Service Exports and the US Trade Deficit

    Professor Joao GomesMarch 24, 2017
    The United States is by far the world’s largest exporter of services and maintains an enormous trade surplus in services. Professor Gomes takes a closer look at the economics of boosting service exports as a means of rebalancing the US trade deficit and, in the process, shed new light on policy discussions regarding the future of America’s trade agreements.left|regulation|trade
    View summary » A trade deficit is defined by the amount by which a country’s imports exceeds the value of its exports. The US has consistently held a trade deficit since the 1970s; as of the end of 2016, the deficit had risen to $502 billion. This trade deficit has been a “political hot potato,” particularly with respect to China, on the assumption that a sustained deficit weakens the overall economy. But is that accurate?

B-School Podcasts

  • Regulating Robo-Advisors, Wharton Business Radio Interview

    With big data and automation becoming more common, so too has the “robo advisor”, any automated service that ranks or matches consumers to financial products on a personalized basis. Tom Baker, Professor of Law and Health Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, joins host Dan Loney of Knowledge@Wharton to discuss his recent B-School for Public Policy seminar about research he’s been doing on the regulation of robo-advisors, particularly within the financial services industry.
  • Insuring High Risks Fairly, Protecting Individuals Against Flood Losses

    As Congress looks at restructuring the National Flood Insurance Program — legislators must address the issue of fairness. Howard Kunreuther, Professor of Decision Sciences and Business Economics and Public Policy at the Wharton School, joins host Dan Loney on Knowledge@Wharton to discuss this important and timely topic.
  • US Workforce Development and Employer Tax Incentive Plans

    There has been much talk recently about a skills gap in the United States. Even though unemployment is in the low 4% territory, there are still many jobs that companies seemingly can’t fill because the people applying for them may not have the skills necessary. But it raises an interesting question: Who is actually responsible for taking care of that gap? Peter Cappelli, Director of the Center for Human Resources and Professor of Management at the Wharton School and Host of In the Workplace, joins host Dan Loney on Knowledge@Wharton.

  • Can Blockchain Truly Work? The Question May Be One of Trust

    Wharton legal studies and business ethics professor Kevin Werbach talks about the transformative potential of the blockchain, the underlying technology behind cryptocurrencies such as the bitcoin. While the adoption of cyber-currencies is running into headwinds, the blockchain is finding more practical use across industries. Its nature as a distributed ledger in which transactions are transparent among parties creates a “new architecture of trust,” Werbach adds. One doesn’t have to trust another party in a blockchain to do a transaction even if there is no centralized authority, such as a bank or government, in charge.
  • Jennifer Blouin on US Tax Reform and Multinational Corporations

    Does the U.S. system of taxation potentially give foreign buyers of U.S. multinational businesses an unfair advantage? Jennifer Blouin, Professor of Accounting at the Wharton School, joins host Dan Loney on Knowledge@Wharton to discuss this important and timely topic.