Seeing the Positive Impacts of Policy Research

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After completing her Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) degree at Stuart School of Business, Yinman Zhong applied what she had learned to secure a highly sought research position at the China Institute for Reform and Development (CIRD), a leading non-governmental think tank in China.

She has worked on a variety of research projects at CIRD that are international in scope. For example, Zhong has collected and analyzed data on the middle-class in Japan and South Korea for a project on expanding China’s middle-income group and worked on a study about a potential Free Trade Agreement between China and the European Union. In addition, she has published articles in journals and newspapers, such as Social Governance Review and Economic Information Daily, and written reports for CIRD Policy Brief.

“Many of the CIRD research outputs have contributed to China’s policymaking process,” she says, “and I’m thrilled to see how policy research can produce positive social impacts and what we are doing is meaningful.”

According to Zhong, the Illinois Tech M.P.A. program not only honed her research abilities, it also broadened her vision of public administration and what she could do in her career. “I expanded my understanding of research methodology, grasped analytic skills such as problem logic models and strategic planning, and learned how to evaluate the performance of policies with statistical analyses,” she says. “Being in Chicago, there are a lot of resources for attending lectures and conferences and networking with professionals.”

In an internship with a strategic communications consulting firm, Zhong got hands-on experience researching social and political issues and drafting analytical reports. A project evaluating the effect of Title IX on sex discrimination and racial equality, she says, “showed me a picture of how policies gradually remolded the structure of society.”

With a goal of playing a larger role in policy research and policymaking, Zhong applied to doctoral programs in the United States and has been admitted to the Ph.D. program in public administration at North Carolina State University. “A higher-level academic training is crucial if I want to be a more competent policy researcher,” she says. “After graduation, I plan to further pursue my research career in a university or a think tank setting.”