The Center for Growth and Opportunity hosted its first annual Summer Student Workshop on June 7-8. It was a successful launch to one of its many new student development programs since the CGO’s launch last year. The workshop’s central theme, “Building Your Research Toolkit,” aimed to help undergraduate student researchers identify new, better ways to approach their applied economic research education as they explore public policies involving healthcare, immigration, education, environmental, transportation, natural resource, technology, and land-use policy.
The two-day event brought together undergraduate and graduate research interns, distinguished economics faculty from Utah State University, PhD fellows from the Center for Growth and Opportunity, and visiting scholars to discuss research practices and approaches that can help student research produce robust policy research.
PhD fellows at the Center for Growth and Opportunity, many of whom are currently participating in doctoral programs at institutions across the country, presented some of their current research projects to students to demonstrate some of their approaches for conducting economic research.
Sidney Tate, a recent graduate at USU who will be starting an economics PhD program at University of California-San Diego this fall, presented some of his research on the economic impacts of refugees in the United States.
“This project has helped me realize the importance of asking the right questions.”
Jordan Lofthouse, a PhD candidate in economics at George Mason University, presented his research on economic development on Native American lands, in which he analyzes the institutional framework surrounding property rights on tribal lands.
“This project has helped me realize the importance of asking the right questions,” said Lofthouse. “When researching any broad or complex topic, it’s easy to get distracted. Staying focused on the research questions can make all the difference.”
Summer research interns were also given the opportunity to present research of their own, to solicit feedback on ways to best move forward with their projects.
“Having the opportunity to present my research at the workshop was invaluable,” said Tate. “Not only did it allow me to critically analyze my ideas and form a cohesive argument, but receiving feedback from the economists in attendance has allowed me to develop new ideas and more fully utilize my research toolkit.”
Presentations and discussions about current research also included several speakers, including Christopher Koopman, Senior Director or Strategy and Research for the Center for Growth and Opportunity. In his keynote address, Koopman discussed how policy research incorporating theory provides valuable context to approaching research despite a growing emphasis on how hypotheses and theories are tested.
“Research toolkits are just as much about theory as they are methodology,” said Koopman.
Aaron Hedlund, assistant professor at the University of Missouri and visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, also addressed the students. Hedlund discussed his introduction to the field of economics, some of the ways he approaches his research into issues like education and the effects of debt on the economy, and presented his views on some of the many facets of economic policy research.
Those in attendance at the workshop engaged in meaningful discussions that provided everyone in attendance with new skills, approaches, and perspectives as they tackle pressing policy issues.