Lyons Award Winner Announced

April 25 Monday 07:06 PM

In conjunction with the department of Political Science, we are excited to announce the recipient of the Lyons Award-- Professor Allison Connelly, the James and Mary T. Lassiter Clinical Professor in the College of Law. She will be honored this coming Wednesday at 3 pm on the 18th floor of POT, with a reception to follow. We invite you to celebrate Professor Connelly's contributions to the University and the community!

Read more about Professor Connelly at UK Now.

Capstone Schedule

April 19 Tuesday 03:10 PM

Students and friends! If you are interested in watching our Capstone cohort defend their projects, join us on Thursday! Below is the schedule.

Capstone Defense Schedule - April 21, 2016

Political Polling in Transition: Event Recap

April 15 Friday 10:22 AM

This election season can be described a lot of ways, but “boring” is not one of them. Watching the news, it seems that pundits agree there are some unusual things happening-- can we trust conventional polling methods, strategy, and political wisdom to make sense of it all?

This past Wednesday, the Martin School and the Department of Political Science hosted an expert panel featuring Dr. Stephen Voss, Celinda Lake, and Robert Blizzard. Dr. Voss is a political science professor here at UK, and Celinda and Robert are both prominent political strategists that often work on opposite sides of the aisle. Their discussion was engaging, extremely relevant, and informative.

Dr. Voss framed the conversation by looking at recent Kentucky elections to highlight the large margins by which public political polling has gotten it wrong. Methods haven’t changed, but something about the climate has changed. Robert Blizzard, having worked for a firm that has used private polling to advise hundreds of candidates, highlighted ways public polling could be better, focusing on how constructing a sample might be improved.

Both political strategists agreed that voters are not in a happy place-- a majority of Americans have felt we as a nation have been on the wrong track for more than a decade, the longest negative streak ever seen. Celinda took a closer look at how the population has changed and the ways messaging is informed by polling. The nation is not only becoming more diverse, but also family dynamics are also changing. Lake felt that no one was paying enough attention to the fact that almost a majority of mothers today are single moms, for example.

We’re a bit biased (and very nerdy), but what an enjoyable discussion! We cannot thank the Board of Visitors, and especially Mike Ruehling, Brad Cowgill, and Crit Luallen for arranging to have such interesting and entertaining speakers and agreeing to moderate the discussion.

Learning to Manage Data in Today's World

April 14 Thursday 10:44 AM

What are some of the most important things you learn in an MPA/MPP program? Data management would certainly be on that list.

This semester, Dr. Toma is teaching a “Government Information Systems” to MPP and MPA students. A cornerstone of policy implementation and research is data. Understanding data collection, management, and analysis is paramount, and we've never had greater access to it than we do today. The aim of the course is to provide students with the tools needed to answer important policy questions with data—where can data be found? How do you work with Excel and Stata, the computer package used by social scientists to calculate statistics on large data sets, to answer these questions? At the beginning of the course, Dr. Toma shared with students that doing a regression is the easiest part of research—finding and preparing the data for analysis is much of the blood, sweat, and tears.

The class is very hands-on—the group meets in the computer lab every week to work with data sets. The semester started with an introduction to the ethics of data management and the IRB process. There have often speakers who are experts in managing data from a particular field, such as education, transportation, and healthcare. Some of these speakers are practitioners in the field, while others have been Ph.D. students who will continue to be great resources for MPA/MPP students.

The class will culminate in a research project. Each student selects a question of interest, finds his or her own data sources, and creates a data set to analyze. “I’m treating this project as an opportunity to get a head-start on my Capstone,” explains Sarah Smith, a first-year student. “I’m really excited about my topic, and I hope the product will be a great marketing tool to showcase my interests and abilities when I start looking for jobs after graduation next year.”

If you’re looking for an elective for the fall, let us make a suggestion—add this class to your shortlist. You’ll be a better researcher for it.

Impressions from CGI U 2016

April 13 Wednesday 02:02 PM

Three Martin School students had the honor of attending the Clinton Global Initiative University in California the first weekend of April. To be selected, students submitted proposals to address a need in education, public health, human rights, poverty, or climate change. Beta Ardiansyah, a second-year Martin School student, was selected to participate in the three-day conference with other students from all over the world. The goal of his proposal is "to end child labor in rubber-farmer households in the Rambang Lubay Indonesia," which he hopes to achieve through subsidizing family income to free up children to go to school.

He really enjoyed the speakers, especially Salman Khan, the CEO of Khan Academy. One of his big takeaways from that particular session was simple—"don’t waste inspiration"! Even if they come to you at 2 am, write them down.

While some of the sessions were more general, others were focused on the practical details of implementing the possible solutions to complex problems in the student project proposals. Beta attended sessions that concentrated on how to maintain your network, fundraising, and marketing your ideas. These sessions gave Beta tangible ideas to make his project better; he realized that for the sake of scalability, his methods would need to be adjusted so that he could get buy-in from all stakeholders.

What was the best feature of the conference? “Networking!” Beta shared, “developing countries in the world have a similar problem” in education, so being able to talk about how different groups have had success in the area was great.

Students who may be interested in participating next year, Beta says he would recommend it 125 percent!

Read CGI’s recap here.