Theory of Connectivity...

Institute for Public Opinion

Students in the Institute of Public Opinion.

The Institute of Public Opinion is a student-driven enterprise that specializes in research regarding the attitudes and beliefs of individuals. At the Institute, students have a role in all aspects of operation, including managing payroll, operating software, interacting with survey respondents, collecting data, and assisting with data analysis.

Through its decade of operation, the Institute has produced an outstanding track record of producing results that closely mirror outcomes of presidential, senatorial and congressional elections in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, making it one of the most widely-recognized research organizations in the state.

Many of the studies broach topics that reach further than politics; the institute conducts ongoing public opinion polls in conjunction with the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. on public perception of climate studies and global warming.

The data collected and analyzed by the students in the institute regularly reaches an expansive breadth of local, national and international media outlets, including the BBC, the New York Times, CBS, NBC, ABC, NPR, the Washington Post, Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the LA Times.

But students do more than query respondents about nationwide issues. They regularly partner with local organizations and academic departments on campus to find answers that might otherwise be unreachable or unaffordable. Recent partners include the City of Bethlehem, the United Way of the Lehigh Valley, The Allentown Art Museum and Renew Lehigh Valley. In 2011, the Institute conducted research with DANA Honors Program students on measuring perceptions of science education and with David Amdur, assistant professor of economics & finance, on a study of economic literacy.

“Students have an opportunity to collect fresh, original data, conduct measured, scientific analysis, familiarize themselves with the methods of public opinion research and assist with data collection and analysis,” says Chris Borick, associate professor of political science and director of the Institute of Public Opinion. “We provide students with direct experience, and in the process, we help local governments, non-profits and the college community by offering resources they might not otherwise find available.”

Because students are employed by the institute, a variety of academic discplines are represented, and that experience, from conducting interviews, to helping develop surveys, to interacting with the Lehigh Valley community through exit polls on election day, often motivates students far beyond the time spent at Muhlenberg.


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