92R Program - Faculty Research Assistantships

Our undergraduates are part of an exciting and stimulating community of scholars who are at the top of their field and doing high-impact research. The Sociology Department offers many opportunities for undergraduates to work on faculty research projects in a variety of capacities. Research Assistant positions offer unique possibilities for intellectual growth, while giving students invaluable skills and experience. Please note: You may NOT be paid when taking a 92R for credit.

Please review the project descriptions below and follow the application steps. You may apply for more than one opportunity. For questions about specific projects, please contact the professor in charge. For questions about the overall process, please contact Danilo Mandić at mandic@fas.harvard.edu.

RA opportunities in the department, and the application process will be listed here by Monday, August 23rd

1. The deadline to apply is 9am, Thursday, August 26th. .
2. Faculty will review applications. You may be asked to interview by phone or in person.
3. Faculty will contact selected students by email as soon as possible, but no later than 5pm, Thursday, August 26th (Danilo said end of day, but we need to put a time…
4. Please ACCEPT or DECLINE faculty offers by email, with cc to
mandic@fas.harvard.edu by midnight, Thursday, August 26th (again, Danilo’s time pick)
5. Once you have accepted an offer by email, please petition to enroll in SOCIOL 92r on
my.harvard.edu.


RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES EMAIL LIST
Please remember that concentrators can join or remove yourself from our research opportunities listserv at any time, and manage your own preferences here: https://lists.fas.harvard.edu/mailman/listinfo/soc-undergrad-research

 

 

Sociology 92r: Faculty Research Assistant

Students gain research skills along with an understanding of the production of sociological knowledge through work on faculty research projects. Work is arranged and directed by faculty members, who supervise and meet with students regularly (every 1-2 weeks). The specifics of the intellectual goals for the student and the research tasks involved will vary. The student and faculty member will consult on this in advance and will outline the following on the 92r Registration Form: 1) the specific skills to be learned, 2) how the course will engage students with the discipline, and 3) the specific work product. What students produce will depend on the kind of research involved. It is expected that students will work 8 to 10 hours per week on the course. Students may engage with data collection, data analysis, literature reviews, or other aspects of a faculty project.

 

Note: This course must be taken SAT/UNSAT.

 

 

Faculty Name: Frank Dobbin

Project Title: The Diffusion of Sexual Harassment Training Legislation in U.S. States and Municipalities

  1. Description: The goal of the project is to collect data on the timing of state and local laws requiring employers to provide sexual harassment training to supervisors and workers. California first required training for supervisors in 2005. In recent years five other states, and many more municipalities, have required training. Why do states and municipalities require training in the face of evidence that voluntarily adopted training is ineffective? Does the legislation lead to reductions in the incidence of harassment? These are the principal questions to be addressed.

Research Tasks and Final Work Product: The student would collect data on the timing of sexual harassment training mandates in states and localities, and on the specifics of the law. Does it specify that supervisors or all employees must be trained? How frequently? Does it specify required features of the training programs? How is the law enforced. The student would build a dataset in Excel, and begin to explore why states and cities adopted laws, and particular features, when they did in simple statistical models.

Required Skills/Background: Familiarity with Excel. Familiarity with OLS regression and a standard statistical software package would be helpful. Ability to work on a team, in this case made up of 3 graduate students and two faculty members.

To Apply: Please send an application to [kwanwookim@fas.harvard.edu with cc to mandic@fas.harvard.edu] including your 1) name, email, and college year; 2) a paragraph explaining reasons for interest in the project; and 3) a paragraph describing relevant coursework (if any), relevant work/research experience (if any), or reasons for interest in learning more about research via this project.

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Faculty Name: Christina Cross

Project Title:  Racial Differences in the Impact of Family Structure on Children’s Life Chances

Project Description: The goal of the project is to examine how and why the impact of family structure on children’s life chances differs by race. Specifically, it explores the extent to which the benefits of growing in a two-parent family are weaker for Black youth than their White peers and why the returns to this family structure are lower for Black youth. The student will have the opportunity to engage in historical and quantitative research. Through the examination of legal documents, newspaper articles, and social media posts, they will investigate how, over time, the two-parent family emerged as the primary strategy among policy makers for promoting child wellbeing and eliminating racial inequality.  Through the analysis of survey data, they will also assist in documenting the disparities in life opportunities between Black and white youth raised in this family structure. In doing so, they will learn about important sociological and demographic concepts such as family formation, parental socialization, racial inequality, and family privilege.

Research Tasks and Final Work Product: The student will assist in gathering data (e.g., compilation of legal documents), data cleaning, and analyses. The final work product will be a brief report that provides historical context about the research topic, as well as tables of descriptive statistics and basic statistical models.

Required Skills/Background: Familiarity with OLS regression and a standard statistical software package.

To Apply: Please send an application to Christina Cross (crossc@fas.harvard.edu), with cc to mandic@fas.harvard.edu including your 1) name, email, and college year; 2) 1-2 paragraphs explaining reasons for interest in the project; and 3) 1-2 paragraphs describing relevant coursework (if any), relevant work/research experience (if any), or reasons for interest in learning more about research via this project.

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Faculty Name: Manja Klemenčič (https://scholar.harvard.edu/manja_klemencic)

Project Title: Student Impact on Higher Education Globally (SIHEG)

Project Description: SIHEG research project investigates student agency in higher education, maps existing opportunities for students to influence higher education and societies more broadly, and explores student impact. The guiding research questions for this research project are twofold: (1) How do students enact agency in higher education (and society at large)? (2) How student organizing, student representation and student politics compare across institutions and countries worldwide? The objective of the research project is to advance the understanding of student agency in higher education and the impact students have on higher education and their societies. The research project is the first large-scale global collaborative research on student agency and impact on higher education globally. SIHEG is conducted by Manja Klemenčič in partnership with researchers from the Global Student Forum (https://www.globalstudentforum.org/). The Global Student Forum is a joint initiative of the All-Africa Students Union (AASU), Commonwealth Students’ Association (CSA), European Students Union (ESU) and Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU) and the Latin-American Student Organisation (OCLAE) and national organisations and movements which together cover 196 Unions from 119 countries.

Research Tasks and Final Work Product: Undergraduate RAs will have three main tasks:

(1) September: editorial comments to the draft introductions (review of literature and history of student politics) of the chapters on student politics. These introductions were written by mostly student leaders/representatives/activists whom Dr. Klemencic trained to conduct research in their country and author a chapter for an edited volume “Student Politics Globally”. The task will be to comment on clarity, structure, missing details, definitions, etc. The chapters are written for non-specialist.

(2) October: conduct desk research (via HOLLIS and Google Scholar) to identify secondary literature on student politics – student activism – student representation for the 40+ countries involved in the research project. Many contributors do not have access to well-resourced libraries and have difficulties identifying relevant secondary literature. The literature they found will be already included in the draft introductions. However, RAs will do another round of desk research to see if further literature could be identified, and if – possible – download it into the SIHEG project library.

(3) November: writing support to chapter writers finalising their chapters. Chapter writers will have collected survey data. RA would have office hours for chapter writers to offer personalised advising concerning data analysis (from a survey, interviews, content analysis of formal documents) and suggestions on writing up the chapters, and to communicate any unresolved issues to the principal investigator.

Depending on the number of RAs, each RA would be expected to read through about 12 chapter introductions (about 5 pages each), conduct desk research on secondary literature in about 12 countries, and offer peer-advising to writers from these 12 countries. Countries included in this project come from all world regions: Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and Pacific.

So far the US is not yet covered in the project, but Canada is included. We also cover countries that rarely occur in higher education research, such as Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Mauritius, Fiji, etc.

Required Skills/Background: Ideally you would have completed SOCIOL128 or take it in Fall 2021 (or other social science methods course or research-intensive course, such as SOCIOL1104, SOCIOL1130 or GENED1039), but this RA is possible without prior social science methods course (you will get training from PI). I especially need RAs for French-speaking African countries (plus chapters on France and Haiti), Spanish-speaking Latin American countries plus Latin American Portuguese (for the chapter on Brazil). So students with these language skills are strongly encouraged. Most country chapters will be in English, so plenty to do for English-speakers also.

To Apply: Please send an application to manjaklemencic@g.harvard.edu including your 1) name, email, college year, concentration(s), foreign language skills (if any); 2) 1-2 paragraphs explaining any relevant experience, academic coursework and interests. Deadline: 9am, Thursday, August 26. Selection made by 5pm, Thursday, August 26.

More about the Sociology 92R Program - Faculty Research Assistantships: https://sociology.fas.harvard.edu/faculty-research

Sociology 92r: Faculty Research Assistant

Students gain research skills along with an understanding of the production of sociological knowledge through work on faculty research projects. Work is arranged and directed by faculty members, who supervise and meet with students regularly (every 1-2 weeks). The specifics of the intellectual goals for the student and the research tasks involved will vary. The student and faculty member will consult on this in advance and will outline the following on the 92r Registration Form: 1) the specific skills to be learned, 2) how the course will engage students with the discipline, and 3) the specific work product. What students produce will depend on the kind of research involved. It is expected that students will work 8 to 10 hours per week on the course. Students may engage with data collection, data analysis, literature reviews, or other aspects of a faculty project.

N.B.: This course must be taken SAT/UNSAT, and students are not permitted to receive financial compensation for 92r-related RA work.

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Faculty Name: Ya-Wen Lei ((yawenlei@fas.harvard.edu)

Project: Upgrading the Nation: Promise and Peril of Techno-Developmentalism in China

I’m working on a book project titled Upgrading the Nation: Promise and Peril of Techno-Developmentalism in China. The project aims to understand the formation, consequences, and evolving features of China’s techno-developmentalism. Currently, the book project is under contract with Princeton University Press. I have published articles about platform economy and automation from the project: https://journals.sagepub.com/eprint/UEMUXGAUUKTDYREP8QVT/full; https://journals.sagepub.com/eprint/FGUKS7J2RCBDACAMHRT2/full.

The final empirical chapter of the book will analyze the recent governmental crackdown on tech companies, such as Alibaba, Tencent, Meituan, and Didi. I’m looking for one or two RAs interested in the regulation of tech companies and issues related to antitrust, data privacy, labor protection, etc. RAs will collect and analyze news and academic articles. RAs who don’t read Mandarin Chinese will focus on news and articles written in English. RAs who can read Mandarin Chinese will have the chance to collect and analyze Chinese news, policy documents, and articles. We will meet once every two week to discuss data.

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Faculty Name: Adaner Usmani

Project Title: The Origins of American Mass Incarceration

Project Description: American mass incarceration is one of the major social problems of our times. The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in world history except for Stalin's Soviet Union. Further, those it incarcerates are disproportionately likely to be poor and nonwhite.

Scholars have offered various explanations for American mass incarceration, but one of the weaknesses of most work on punishment is that it seeks to understand America by studying just America. This project seeks to bring comparative and historical perspective to the study of the American carceral state. We aim to gather several kinds of historical data on punishment, policing and crime in other countries (with a focus on other advanced capitalist countries and Latin America).

Research Tasks and Final Work Product: The RA will be responsible for collecting these data, which will involve reading and transcribing archival documents, trawling for new sources online, maintaining an existing database, emailing scholars in the field, and more. This continues research done by other RA's in previous semesters and summers, so there is a lot to do and a lot to build on. You'll be joining a team of RA's from Harvard and the University of Chicago.

I will ask that you write weekly summaries of what you have accomplished. You will also meet once weekly with me and the rest of the research team.

Required Skills/Background: Spreadsheet and basic quantitative skills to curate and maintain the dataset. More advanced skills (programming, webscraping, regression analysis, etc.) would be a plus, but are not necessary.

To apply: Please send an application to
ausmani@fas.harvard.edu, cc’ing mandic@fas.harvard.edu, including your (1) name, email and college year; (2) a paragraph explaining your interest in the project; (3) a paragraph describing relevant coursework and experience.

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Faculty name: Shai Dromi

Title or brief description of faculty research project:

The causes and mechanisms of US based activism in relation to foreign regional conflicts.

Project description:

Why do some social issues spark fervent debates on our campuses when others get little attention? How do students mobilize to turn attention to less-known social and political struggles? This project aims to understanding student activism, in particular as it pertains to conflicts that occur outside that United States (such as Israel/Palestine, the Rohingya crisis, Tibet, or the Kurdish struggle). The student will examine historical campus news coverage to trace student activism on specific conflicts in recent decades, and will thus learn about the causes and consequences of the differences in student attention between different conflicts.


Description of Research Tasks:

1. Using Harvard library resources to identify coverage of activism on foreign regional conflict (specific conflicts will be determined once we begin the research).

2. Identifying the broader mechanisms that animate activism on behalf of distant conflicts.


Work Product:

The final product will be a review on the literature and historical background of U.S. activism surrounding one regional conflict, with a focus on the different mechanism that motivate and facilitate such activism.


Required Skills / Background:

Familiarity with scholarly search engines such as Hollis and Sociological Abstracts

 

 

Previous 92R Students

Liz Roe

Elizabeth Roe, Sociology, '20, working with Lecturer in Sociology, Jonathan Mijs.

"During my senior spring semester in 2020, I worked with Jonathan Mijs on a 92R project." Read more

Stephanie Wu

Stephanie Wu, Sociology, '19, working with Professor Orlando Patterson

"Working as a research assistant for Professor Orlando Patterson has been one of the best experiences of my college career!" Read more

Amira Weeks

 

Amira Weeks, Sociology, '18, working with Professor Frank Dobbin

"This project provided me with a first-hand look at how sociologists use data and models to produce conclusions." Read more

Rachael Stein

Rachael Stein, Sociology, 17, working with Professor Frank Dobbin

"I got to work directly with a professor on research that will have an incredible impact--both in the academic world and beyond. ...It was extremely rewarding to jump into a small team and conduct truly impactful research on a high-profile project. I was able to take things I was learning about in the classroom – organizations, businesses, inequality, discrimination, legal systems, and more – and see how these concepts interact in the real world."  Read more

Max Whittington-Cooper

Max Whittington-Cooper, Sociology '17, working with Professor Devah Pager
 

"This research project truly allowed me to break out of the 'Harvard bubble' and explore regions of Massachusetts that I otherwise would have never visited." Read more