The Social Science Research Center
The Social Science Research Center (SSRC) provides an outlet for faculty and students to collaborate on research studies in the social sciences and, more generally, to enhance the vitality of Saint Michael's academic community.
Since the SSRC was established in 1987, its activities have been guided by four goals:
To promote and provide support for faculty engaged in scholarly research
To provide opportunities outside the classroom for students to work with faculty on projects in the social sciences
To offer research services to the College, government agencies, businesses and non-profit community based institutions
To promote inter-disciplinary research within the social sciences.
If you'd like more information about the SSRC, or would like to find out how we can help with your research needs, please contact the program director:
Professor Herb Kessel
Saint Edmunds Hall 353
The SSRC conducts two or three externally funded research projects each year. These projects provide opportunities for students and faculty members to apply their research skills and knowledge in an applied setting.
Examples of our research
In 2008, the SSRC began a study, sponsored by Vermonters for a Sustainable Population, on issues surrounding population growth in Vermont. Approximately 25 students from a class on Research Methods worked on the project, first in refining the original survey instrument that we completed a decade ago, then by conducting telephone interviews with over 400 Vermonters, and finally by preparing term papers based upon the data that was collected.
Throughout its history, the SSRC has been preparing research reports for the Vermont Department of Labor, usually examining the impact of a variety of education and training programs funded through the federal government. Students generally work as paid interviewers and have the opportunity to learn first hand about the challenges that face poor people and others with serious labor market barriers.
Over the last twenty years the SSRC has conducted four "Pulse of Vermont" studies under the sponsorship of the Vermont Business Roundtable. Saint Michael's faculty work with students who are hired to conduct extensive interviews with a random sample of over 400 Vermonters about issues surrounding life in Vermont. A major goal of these studies is to capture and understand how people are faring under changing economic and social conditions.
The SSRC conducted a series of marketing studies for the Hunger Mountain Coop in Montpelier, Vermont. These studies provided business students with an opportunity to learn first hand about survey research and marketing while providing the Coop will valuable insights into their customer base.
Organizations that we've worked with (some on multiple occasions):
- Vermont Council on Rural Development
- Cabot Creamery Cooperative
- Vermont Department of Labor
- Saint Michael’s College
- City of Burlington, CEDO Office
- Vermont Business Roundtable
- Burlington Catholic Diocese
- Burlington Free Press
- Vermont Population Alliance
- Vermont Ski Areas Association
- Milton School Department
- Society of St. Edmunds
- Hunger Mountain Coop
- New England Coffee Company
- Vermonters for Sustainable Population
- Vermont Employees Health Alliance
- Manchester Chamber of Commerce
- Lamoille County Regional Planning Agency
- Howard Bank
- Vermont Transit
- Burlington Community Council
- The Hayes Group
Student Summer Research
For many years, the SSRC has been sponsoring student centered summer research projects. Students are paid and work under the supervision of a faculty member.
Student research projects funded by the SSRC since 2003
2009: Jenny Pietroski (Psychology)
The Effects of Acute Psychological Stress on Neuroendocrine Response and Cardiovascular Reactivity in a Sample of Tobacco Chippers. Faculty Sponsor: Professor Vanderkaay.
2008: Dimtri Ripnikov (Economics)
Trade Balances, Exchange Rates and the Transition of former Soviet Block Countries to Market Based Economies. Faculty Sponsor: Professor Ramazani.
2007: Matthew Scanlin, (Psychology and Biology)
The Effects of Acute Psychological Stress on Cardiovascular Reactivity and Renal Excretion in a sample of nonsmokers. Faculty Sponsor: Professor Vanderkaay.
2006: Nicole Vendituoli, (History and Education)
The Vermont Eugenics Survey and the Western Abenaki Indians: How the Sterilization Movement Impacted the Tribe and their Fight for Recognition. Faculty Sponsor: Professor Ouellette.
2006: Jake Dubuque, (Economics and Mathematics)
Measuring the Relationship between Freedom and Prosperity. Faculty Sponsor: Professor Ramazani.
2005: Mary Lake (Journalism and Sociology)
Decriminalization: a Movement for the Rights of Sex Workers in Montreal. Faculty Sponsor: Professor Sultze
2005: Robynne Locke (Sociology)
Success in Integrating Refugees into Vermont Society. Faculty Sponsor: Professor Kusserow.
2004: Howard D’Angelo, (Political Science)
Do Congressional Caucuses Accomplish Their Goals? Faculty Sponsor: Professor Grover.
2003: Jessica L. Bassett (Political Science)
Meeting the Needs of AIDS Orphans in East Africa. Faculty Sponsor: Professor Siplon.
Faculty Research Seminars
Each year, the SSRC holds a series of research seminars where faculty members in the social sciences present "works in progress" or completed studies, in a friendly and supportive environment.
Typically, the SSRC sponsors between 8 to 10 of these presentations during the course of the academic year. These seminars have offered faculty members a supportive place to present works or to help faculty prepare for upcoming conference presentations. They not only provide presenters with helpful comments, but they offer attendees (students and faculty) an opportunity to learn more about the work of colleagues or mentors.
The SSRC is also available to advise faculty on research proposals, survey design, statistical analysis and SPSS software issues.
In addition to research issues, the Center also sponsors annual book discussions. Faculty members from a range of disciplines have come together yearly to discuss books and articles such as Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success, Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy, Karl Marx’s The Manifesto of the Communist Party, Richard Hernstein and Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in America, and Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran.
The books and articles have contributed to the sense of a shared intellectual or learning community at the College and have found their way into a number of classrooms at Saint Michael's.