Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Research Assistant Position Spring Semester


Professor Dan Ryan is looking for a paid on-campus research assistant available during spring semester 2013.

The Project

You will work independently helping to build a database of network data on individual and organizational members of the "higher education lobby."  In this project we will collect and analyze data about the network structure of the "higher education lobby" – organizations, foundations, politicians and scholars who are actively engaged in the project of reshaping American higher education.

I am especially interested in characterizing the network of (mostly conservative) think tanks currently working to reform higher education, often in a manner that can be characterized as stealth politics. Although it began much earlier, ever since the "Spellings Commission" Report (2006) higher education been under the threat of being remade along the lines of the "No Child Left Behind."  More than any time since the 1950s and 60s foundations and political organizations are working hard to set the agenda for changing American higher education.

This project will look at how people and money link organizations together in a pattern of "strange bedfellows" and "interlocking directorates" revealing who/what is behind the various claims-making efforts that frame contemporary higher education debates. We will conduct a census of organizations involved in higher education policy and build a database of their staff and board members, funders, policy papers, and other artifacts and a second database of publications on higher education.

Skills, Interests, and Inclinations

Successful candidate will be tech savvy, detail oriented, and able to work efficiently and productively without direct supervision.  You should be a sophisticated and astute user of search engines and other internet based research tools and the Microsoft Office suite (especially important to be comfortable with Excel). You should also be possessed of a genuine hunger to further develop your internet, computer, and data skills (via self instruction, trial and error, online tutorials, how-to books, and demanding to be shown how something is done). Experience with HTML, wiki editing, databases, and any sort of coding are all a serious plus.


Approximately 100-120 hours of work over course of semester (you will be able to earn approximately $1200) expected to be completed on regular weekly schedule February through late April.  We'll communicate mostly via email or e-video but I will be on-campus a few times for face-to-face meetings.

Full access to data for your own use.  Someone interested in sociology of higher education or social networks could incorporate this into senior thesis.

How to Apply

Before 5 p.m. December 5, 2012 apply via form below.  For further information, make appointment for office hours.

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