Why UChicago Data and Policy Summer Scholar Program?

Rigorous interdisciplinary training: the program will teach students quantitative data analytical skills, expose them to a wide range of public policy issues, and prepare them with advanced English language training;

Rich on-campus resources and supporting system: the program will create a holistic student experience that allows them to fully utilize various on-campus resources. In addition, the program provides exclusive supporting system for program participants by recruiting designated student workers as full-time program coordinators and peer mentors.

Seamless connections with practitioners: the program will incorporate well-known practitioners from various public policy fields to help students understand how the reality works. Students will also have the opportunity to visit Chicago-based organizations to learn more about public policy practice.

Faculty lead of the program, Associate Professor Austin Wright, sat down with Shilin Liu, Student Recruitment and International Partnerships Manager at the Harris School of Public Policy to discuss what students can expect to learn while attending the program, and how they can leverage the opportunities this four-week immersion experience will provide.

Why should students participate in this program?

Austin: I think one of the biggest reasons why students should be interested in pursuing this program in particular is that it's often incredibly expensive both to get in to graduate school as you think about preparation for graduate schools and then the time you spend in graduate school.What this program will offer students is an opportunity to a prepare for what graduate school is going to be like, or building additional skills to apply in the next step of their career. It's going to help these students figure out exactly the kinds of programs they want to apply to, and we hope that it gives them a greater incentive to spend time here in the United States and really think about a graduate degree here at the University of Chicago.

What will students learn during the program?

Austin: To give students a better sense of what exactly they'll be applying to this summer, we spent the last several months shaping the curriculum and schedule. It's going to have a primary focus on Introduction to Research Design, thinking not only about the research design at a more fundamental level, but also thinking about how we draw inferences, how do we distinguish correlation from causation. Once we get to that point, we're also going to be introducing students to programming languages and how they can use big data science approaches to answer really pressing policy questions.

That takes us into the last week, which will primarily be focused on case studies and lectures from people working in these fields, both academic and professional. That will help the students recognize what exactly are the topics that they're most passionate about. It will also help them think about how they can identify the schools that are the best fit for them and their interests.

What are you most excited about as the faculty lead of the program?
Austin: Before teaching here in a graduate setting, I was a high school teacher at Teach for America. The thing that was most gratifying was seeing students as they progressed, as they figure out exactly what they want to do, as they hone their skill set, as they get invested not only in the progress they're making, but the future that they see the program giving them an opportunity to pursue. I think that's the thing I'm most excited about with this program: seeing students find their path.
Any suggestions for students in the program?

Austin: As students think about the value-added of a program like this, one of the key things that they should be thinking about is how can they build connections, both with the fellow students that are here in the program, but also making the most out of the opportunities of being based here at the University of Chicago. There are hundreds of academic programs that span across Harris and the schools around us. I think this is an opportunity for students, typically on the Fridays, the chance to explore Chicago and the campus, to really figure out who are the individuals they want to connect with. I think that'll help them as they figure out what exactly are the set of schools that they're going to apply to.

We hope to see you in on campus with us this summer.

Austin Wright & Shilin Liu

About the University of Chicago

The University of Chicago is a private research University that has been ranked as the top 10 National University for many years. University of Chicago has had widespread influence in the social sciences where two prominent schools of thought have emerged: “The Chicago School of Economics” and “The Chicago School of Sociology”. University of Chicago is considered the birthplace of economic law and is the center of research in the fields of economics, sociology, law, and public policy. As of 2017, the University of Chicago is affiliated with over 90 Nobel Laureates with six in its current faculty. The University of Chicago Data and Policy Summer Scholar Program will apply the interdisciplinary nature of the University throughout the curriculum by integrating both public policy and data science. Members of the University’s faculty and staff, including senior professors, will teach the courses. These professors and lecturers all are leading researchers in their respective fields and have come from both the public and private sector and a variety of industries before coming to University of Chicago.

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