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Hands-on training in public policy research

Student policy analysts

CLOSUP's student policy analysts receive hands-on training in social science research methods and practices, as well as opportunities to work with original data that have not been analyzed previously, and to help drive the Center's research agenda and findings.
Learn more about CLOSUP's work

Student Opportunities at CLOSUP for AY2022-23

 

U-M Democracy & Debate Research and Administrative Assistant

Summary and job description:
The University of Michigan Democracy & Debate Initiative, with support from the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy, seeks a student research and administrative assistant to support a range of program activities throughout the fall and winter semesters. The student will correspond with university leaders, help schedule meetings, conduct a variety of research efforts, produce resources such as Powerpoint presentations, and more.

A university-wide educational initiative, Democracy & Debate encourages students, faculty, staff, and the Michigan community to explore the exchange of ideas and free speech, the responsibilities of members of a democratic society, structural inequalities in our democratic systems, the power of the voice of the individual voter, and democracy from a local to a global perspective.

The research and administrative assistant will report to the faculty and staff leaders of the initiative, and will support planning efforts and implementation of activities across the initiative.

Desired qualifications:
Excellent written and oral communication skills are required, as the assistant will interact with university leadership offices. Strong computing skills are necessary, particularly with Powerpoint, in order to produce resources for the initiative. Reliability is essential, and seven to ten hours a week often during business hours will be required throughout the fall and winter semesters. The ability to work both independently as a self-starter, and as part of a team, and attention to detail are critical.

Interested students should email their resume and a brief statement of interest to CLOSUP-Student-Jobs@umich.edu, with the subject line "Democracy & Debate RA position."

Fiscal Health Project RA position (applications closed)

Summary:
The Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), through its Fiscal Health Project, is conducting a community-engaged research project to help modernize and digitize Michigan local government financial transparency and reporting. The project includes partnerships with the City of Flint and 2 rural jurisdictions in Michigan to implement a new open data standard, based on eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL). Municipalities can use XBRL-formatted data to easily share their financial information with the public, the State, and other stakeholders in a user-friendly format.

Student job description and desired qualifications:
The research assistant will work with pilot locations to convert their financial statements into XBRL format, and assist with training so that pilot locations can continue to produce XBRL-formatted statements after the pilot project ends. The research assistant will also assist with an evaluation of the process and outcomes for the pilot projects. As needed, the research assistant will work on other projects related to implementation of XBRL financial reporting in Michigan.

Experience building and working with databases (in Excel) is preferred. Familiarity with financial concepts and data is preferred (e.g. Pub Pol 715), although not required. The ability to work both independently and as part of a team is critical. Strong written and oral communication skills are needed. The work can mostly be completed remotely, with regular meetings / supervision. We expect the work to range from 5-7 hours per week and to last at least through the fall semester and possibly into the winter semester.

Interested students should email their resume and a brief statement of interest to CLOSUP-Student-Jobs@umich.edu, with the subject line "Fiscal Health Project RA position."

CLOSUP Redistricting Project RA position (Applications Closed)

Summary:
The Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) seeks a student research assistant for its Michigan Redistricting Project. The research assistant will convert public testimony submitted by Michigan residents to the state's new Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC), out of PDF text documents and into an Excel database format. The data are intended for use by researchers and other stakeholders to better understand the initial experience with the state's new approach to redistricting, which is likely to serve as a national model for redistricting reform in other states. The database will be a unique and powerful research resource when completed and will allow analysis that is not currently possible.

Student job description and desired qualifications:
The research assistant will review public testimony from PDF transcripts of the MICRC’s public meetings, and convert the testimony from PDF text format to Excel database format, using an existing Excel template. Quality control checks will be performed to ensure accurate data conversion. If additional time is available once the data have been converted, the research assistant might be able to conduct initial data analysis including coding and summarizing the testimony. Experience building and working with databases (in Excel) is preferred. Familiarity with redistricting and/or state and local public policy topics is preferred although not required. The ability to work both independently and as part of a team, and attention to detail are critical. Strong written and oral communication skills are needed. The work can mostly be completed remotely, with regular meetings / supervision. We expect the work to range from 5-7 hours per week and to last at least through the fall semester and possibly into the winter semester.

Interested students should email their resume and a brief statement of interest to CLOSUP-Student-Jobs@umich.edu, with the subject line "CLOSUP Redistricting Project RA position."

For updates on CLOSUP student positions, see: http://closup.umich.edu/people/student-job-opportunities

  • Fiscal Health Project (Applications Closed):

    Summary:
    The Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), through its Fiscal Health Project, is conducting a project to lead the creation and design of an open data standard for local government financial data in Michigan. An open data standard will make information about local fiscal health more easily accessible and usable to the public. It promotes transparency, accountability, and facilitates discussions among policymakers and the public about setting priorities and understanding current conditions.

    Student job description and desired qualifications:
    The Local Fiscal Health research assistant will assist in the development of a "data taxonomy," which defines the elements of data (e.g. public safety spending, state aid, retiree healthcare liability, capital assets, etc.) that should be included in the open data standard. This will involve reviewing financial data for local governments and working with various stakeholders, including local governments and their representative associations, the Michigan Department of Treasury, transparency advocates, and affiliates of XBRL US, a nonprofit that develops digital financial data reporting standards for businesses and governments.

    Experience building and working with databases (in Excel and Stata) is preferred.  Familiarity with financial concepts and data is strongly preferred (e.g. accounting, Pub Pol 715), although not required.  The ability to work both independently and as part of a team is critical.  Strong written and oral communication skills are needed.  The work can mostly be completed remotely, with regular meetings/supervision. We expect the work to range from 5-7 hours per week and to last through the winter semester. 

    Interested students should email their resume and a brief statement of interest to CLOSUP-Student-Jobs@umich.edu, with the subject line "Fiscal Health Project RA position.”

    For updates on CLOSUP student positions, see: http://closup.umich.edu/people/student-job-opportunities

     

    Open Data Standard Pilot Project (Applications closed):


    Summary:
    The Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), through its Fiscal Health Project, is conducting a community-engaged research project to help modernize and digitize Michigan local government financial transparency and reporting. The Fiscal Health Team at CLOSUP will form partnerships with 2-3 small and/or rural municipalities in Michigan to implement a new open data standard, based on eXtensible Business Language Reporting (XBRL). Municipalities can use XBRL-formatted data to easily share their financial information with the public, the State, and other stakeholders in a user-friendly format.

    Student job description and desired qualifications:
    The Fiscal Health research assistant will assist in identifying 2-3 small and/or rural local governments for pilots, assist them in implementing the open data standard with their systems, and conduct a comprehensive financial condition case study for each pilot municipality. This would involve interviewing staff and using existing data sources to calculate financial condition metrics, and identify other fiscal challenges facing the municipality. The goal of these case studies will be to demonstrate how financial data can be used to understand fiscal health and to explore what is unique about fiscal challenges in each municipality.

    Experience building and working with databases (in Excel) is preferred.  Familiarity with financial concepts and data is preferred (e.g. Pub Pol 715), although not required.  The ability to work both independently and as part of a team is critical.  Strong written and oral communication skills are needed.  The work can mostly be completed remotely, with regular meetings / supervision. We expect the work to range from 5-7 hours per week through the winter semester and preferably into the spring-summer term, increasing to about 15 hours per week.

    Interested students should email their resume and a brief statement of interest to CLOSUP-Student-Jobs@umich.edu, with the subject line "Open Data Standard Pilot Project RA position.”

    For updates on CLOSUP student positions, see: http://closup.umich.edu/people/student-job-opportunities

     

    Local Fiscal Health Project (Applications closed)

    Summary:
    The Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), through its Local Fiscal Health Project, is planning a project to lead the creation and design of an open data standard for local government financial data in Michigan. An open data standard will make information about local fiscal health more easily accessible and usable to the public. It promotes transparency, accountability, and facilitates discussions among policymakers and the public about setting priorities and understanding current conditions.

    Student job description and desired qualifications:

    The Local Fiscal Health research assistants will assist in the first stages of the development of a "data taxonomy," which defines the elements of data (e.g. public safety spending, state aid, retiree healthcare liability, capital assets, etc.) that should be included in the open data standard. This will involve reviewing financial data for local governments and working with various stakeholders, including local governments and their representative associations, the Michigan Department of Treasury, transparency advocates, and affiliates of XBRL US, a nonprofit that develops digital financial data reporting standards for businesses and governments.

    Experience building and working with databases (in Excel and Stata) is preferred.  Experience with python is a plus.  Familiarity with financial concepts and data is preferred (e.g. Pub Pol 715), although not required.  The ability to work both independently and as part of a team is critical.  Strong written and oral communication skills are needed.  The work can mostly be completed remotely, with regular meetings/supervision. We expect the work to range from 5-7 hours per week and to last at least through the fall semester and likely into the winter semester.


    Interested students should email their resume and a brief statement of interest to CLOSUP-Student-Jobs@umich.edu, with the subject line “Local Fiscal Health Project RA position.”

    For updates on CLOSUP student positions, see: http://closup.umich.edu/people/student-job-opportunities

    Michigan Public Policy Survey (Applications closed)

    Summary:
    The Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) at the Ford School of Public Policy is seeking to develop a small team of research assistants to work in the fall 2021, possibly extending into winter 2022, on various projects related to the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS). The MPPS, an annual census survey of all 1,856 general purpose local governments in Michigan, investigates local officials’ opinions and perspectives on a variety of important public policy issues. The program gathers longitudinal tracking data on “core” fiscal, budgetary and operational policy issues, as well as covering a wide range of additional topics over time.

    Student job description and desired qualifications:
    The MPPS research assistants will each work on a core analytical project and then may be asked to take on additional tasks on an ad-hoc project basis, depending on MPPS workload and students’ availability. The work can mostly be completed remotely, with regular meetings/supervision.  Hours will vary, averaging 5-7 hours per week, with the goal of producing a working paper, technical memo, or substantive analysis of a policy topic by the end of the term or academic year. Projects may include data processing and analysis of MPPS opinion survey data, curation and archiving of past MPPS survey datasets with UM’s open ICPSR data archive, comparisons of MPPS data with survey data from other sources; methodological tracking and statistical analysis. Other projects may include mapping/GIS development, communications and infographics, and mailing list management, depending on students’ skills and interests.

    Ford School master’s students or experienced undergraduates are preferred, though other students in political science, economics, or a relevant social science discipline will be considered. Strong computing skills including Excel and Word are required, and experience with social science statistical software package such as Stata are preferred.  Students with other relevant software experience such as GIS or Illustrator/photoshop/other graphics packages will be considered as well.

    Interested students should email their resume and a brief statement of interest to CLOSUP-Student-Jobs@umich.edu, with the subject line “MPPS RA position.”

    For updates on CLOSUP student positions, see: http://closup.umich.edu/people/student-job-opportunities

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