Successful research methods regarding immigration and migrant populations was the focus of the 2019 Summer Institute on Migration Research Methods, held recently at Penn State’s University Park campus.
Jennifer Van Hook, Roy C. Buck Professor of Sociology and Demography and a Social Science Research Institute co-funded faculty member at Penn State, teamed up with Irene Bloemraad, professor of sociology and director of the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative at the University of California, Berkeley, to organize the annual event.
The organizers selected 29 early-career researchers from 143 applicants to attend the institute and meet with 11 research experts. This diverse group offered an array of educational backgrounds to provide an exceptional learning experience. Penn State was well-represented, as three students were participants and several faculty and staff members assisted in the development of the weeklong institute.
The learning of innovative migration research methods took place through lectures, hands-on practical instruction, and discussion-based activities. The training had three areas of focus, including ethics and best practices for mixed methods research design, estimating causal relationships in research on immigrants and immigration policy, and the use of administrative and linked longitudinal data sources to study change over time and across generations.
“It was an introduction to the most cutting-edge research methods in migration for those wanting to upgrade their work to the next level,” Van Hook said.
The Russel Sage Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation, and Penn State’s Population Research Institute, the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, and the Social Science Research Institute supported this event. Additionally, the Huck Institutes provided the space that accommodated the researchers. The National Institutes of Health has awarded funding to the summer institute to ensure its continuation for the next five years. The 2020 Summer Institute on Migration Research Methods will be held at the University of California, Berkeley.
“Immigration is an important issue right now,” Van Hook said. “There’s a lot of misinformation about it being circulated in the media, so a workshop like this is important in being able to help people understand and study migrant populations.”