by Satoru Kawashima
The University of Tokyo second-year master student
This summer, I participated in ICPSR summer program online. ICPSR (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research) is one of the most famous institution that archives data in social science. ICPSR has offered the summer program for graduate students and researchers every year, which consists of a wide variety of workshops and lectures on quantitative methods and modeling. This program had been offered in University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, but due to COVID-19, the program was carried out online this year. Having heard about the program, I was interested in attending this program because the program mainly targets at graduate students majoring in political science and sociology, and we can learn statistical methods in a well-designed and systematic way.
I completed two workshops (each of which has a 4 weeks course) and several lectures (each of which has a 4 weeks course with no assignments). The two workshops were Maximum Likelihood Estimation(MLE) and Text Analysis. Both of workshops required submission of assignments every week, so I received lectures and reviewed them on weekdays and I did my homework on weekends. Thus, it was a very hard time for me, but it was also very fruitful. In the MLE workshop, I learned statistical methods toward categorical data. I had learned the content partially before the program, but through the well-designed lecture, I comprehend it more systematically and more profoundly. The knowledge I acquired there will be useful in my research to analyze people’s awareness. In the Text Analysis workshop, I learned the skills to analyze text as data and I acquired programming skills for this purpose. These methods recently have been popular in the field of political science, but this type of lecture is not offered sufficiently in my university. Through this workshop, I understood the methods systematically and made a projection for my future research. In several lectures, I learned mathematics for social science and skills for LaTeX. They are basic knowledge and skills for quantitative methods, so they will help to deepen my learning.
Moreover, the program recommended auditing, so I audited several workshops. Without requirement of submitting assignments, auditing was really useful to study various quantitative methods in a relaxed manner. For example, although I had studied causal inference in japan previously, I audited Causal Inference workshop. This was an interesting and meaningful experience because the content included different things and I was able to relearn causal inference in English and gain a better understanding of it.
The students seemed come from all over the world and the participants were of various ages. I hoped that I established good relationships with graduate students abroad, but because this program was online and because of the time difference, I had difficulties and few opportunities to interact with other students. However, when I had a question, I made sure to go to the Office Hours and solved my problems by interacting with teaching assistants. Thus, I got a valuable experience in learning new skills in English. What I realized in this summer program is more than I had expected, and I strongly believe it will contribute to my future research. I am grateful for this opportunity, and I would like to sincerely express my gratitude to FUTI for offering the generous scholarship.