The think tank that I chose to explore was the Institute for Social Research out of the University of Michigan. The ISR focuses its study on social science related to modern topics today such as voting, drug and alcohol abuse, consumer confidence, health and economic status etc. It “serves as a telescope on society, bringing the attitudes and behavior of people into clearer focus.” Their goal is to promote an environment that allows and encourages scientists and students to conduct research without obstacles or opposition, to produce the highest quality research possible. One study they were conducting that I found interesting was teachers and parents continue to hold a strong presence in the education of most adolescents. Even though young people are becoming increasingly independent and autonomous, they seek the advice of their parents and teachers as opposed to the advice of their peers.

I think the reason why I liked this think tank as opposed to others that I looked at was because the research is focused on social topics relevant to our lives today. I’m not all that interested in international affairs, policies and politics that many of the other think tanks were about, so one that is related to society and social science is one that I will be most naturally inclined to. The benefit of having a think tank entirely devoted to society and social science is that there is no limit for what you want to explore. There’s a bunch of projects on the site that I looked into, and I think another great thing about this is that I became much more aware of studies and causes that I didn’t know about previously.

If I were to work for any of these think tanks, I think I would most like to work at a think tank that was privately funded through grants and donations. I think that you would have the most freedom with your research if you were to work for a private think tank, and the only outside members that you would have to be reliable and accountable for would be your benefactors funding the project. You would be free to focus on whatever kind of research you wanted to with little opposition or pressure to produce relevant and impactful findings. Instead of your research turning political or bureaucratic, it can be exactly what it is; research.

I personally would be most interested in doing research on social science and culture; exploring topics that are relevant to today. Similar to the research conducted at the ISR from Michigan, I would be interested in researching topics such as the different social and economic status that exists in American life.

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3 responses »

  1. Jordi says:

    Like what topics?

    • Hannah says:

      This may be stretching it a little, but one of my other classes this semester talked about how sports can play a role in people raising their economic status. If a gifted athlete comes from a lower class family but they are able to get noticed at an early age, get a scholarship to go to a high school with a good athletic program, they have a better chance of getting an athletic scholarship to go to college. Even if they don’t make it to the professional league, they are able to receive a college education and are overall in a better place than they were before sports helped them succeed in life. This idea doesn’t just have to be related to sports, and instead can relate to how one person’s gift, talent or ability can help them succeed and rise above the life that was given to them.

  2. Claire McCardell says:

    I was surprised to learn that there are think tanks that research such a wide range of topics, I had always thought of a think tank to be centered around a specific topic or objective. I also found the organization’s objective to be unique–to create and promote an environment that allows/encourages people to conduct research without obstacles and produce the highest quality research. I guess when I read the title “Society and Social Research” I thought of a think tank that focused on promoting social justice and welfare, but their objective makes them sound like an organization that researches ways to obtain high-quality research. However, I do think the broad scope of the think tank is beneficial, especially when studying society and social behaviors, because certain research findings could spark other hypotheses or ideas that might not otherwise fit under the original topic. By having an open limit, researches can study topics as they naturally arise, whether it be by observation, pop culture/trends, or sudden changes/developments.

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