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Summer institute at UH strengthens social and policy science scholarship

Empirical Implications of Theoretical Models Institute marries mathematical and empirical analysis

eitmGraduate students from Houston and across the country converged at the University of Houston to participate in the EITM Summer Institute 2015 in June. Hosted by the Hobby Center for Public Policy, the institute helps its participants sharpen their dissertations and research projects.

“EITM” is Empirical Implications of Theoretical Models and it represents a research approach that marries formal analysis with statistical analysis in social and policy sciences.

“Typically, students are taught mathematical and empirical testing in separate courses. EITM instructs students in how to merge the two,” said Jim Granato, professor and director of the Hobby Center for Public Policy (HCPP). “It’s fundamental to science exercises for theories and tests to link in a transparent way so that we can build on that research.”

The EITM approach to research is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), which also funded the UH workshop.

During the summer institute, participants presented their research proposals and received critiques on their work, as well as wrote NSF grant proposals.

“This further enhances their research capabilities and helps with their professionalization,” Granato said. “Getting NSF grants is a very competitive process. This will help students to become competitive. You have to compete against the best in order to be the best.”

The reputation of the summer workshop has grown since its debut in 2012. Faculty representing diverse disciplines traveled to Houston from Brown University, New York University, University of Iowa, University of Kansas, University of San Francisco, Rice University and University of Texas-Dallas to join the HCPP faculty at the EITM Summer Institute.

“Too often in social and policy science, theories are created independent to tests and vice versa, which impedes scientific knowledge,” Granato said. “So students must master a broader set of skills that most social and policy scientists did not learn when they were in graduate school.”

-        By Marisa Ramirez