Kaitlyn Radde, a junior majoring in Political Science and minoring in Spanish and International Studies, first became involved with research as a Cox Research Scholar during her freshman year at IU. Until this summer, her research focus has been civil disobedience. Now, the Indiana Political Analysis Workshop (IPAW) has provided her the opportunity to conduct interdisciplinary research in both political science and environmental science in partnership with the Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI).
Under the mentorship of Dr. William Bianco and Ph.D. candidate Eric Schmidt, Radde helped the ERI administer the Hoosier Resilience Index: Readiness Assessment (HRI). Through interviews with mayors and other relevant government officials about resilience and climate readiness, Radde collected data about what climate readiness looks like in Indiana communities.
In addition to interview data, Radde collected political data including percentage of the community that voted for Donald Trump and social vulnerability indexes such as income. By analyzing all data sets, the long-term goal of the project is to determine what political indicators could be used to predict preparedness in a community.
Now that Radde is finishing her part of the project, ERI climate scientists will use the data Radde collected to debrief participating communities and identify areas of success and necessary improvement in environmental resilience and climate preparedness.
“Being a part of that is really rewarding,” Radde said. “Just knowing that communities in Indiana are taking what we worked on and the data we collected to make communities near us safer.”
Before this project, Radde had no experience with interview-based research. She was required to learn how to navigate discussing a controversial topic during data collection, a skill that will prove advantageous in all forms of political science research throughout Radde’s future.
By completing research this summer, Radde has gained confidence in knowing she is capable of conducting a variety of types of research. She hopes to take her diverse skill set and apply it to pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science.
Radde appreciates the level of specificity and depth that research allows her to attain in her discipline.
“Research is definitely where I can pursue what I love,” Radde said. “I think a lot of people could benefit from having that individually driven aspect to their degrees.”
Radde is an advocate for undergraduate students that study social sciences and humanities to get involved with research. While the importance of research is not as heavily emphasized to students outside of the physical and life sciences, Radde stresses the independence and fulfillment social science and humanity students can achieve as research assistants.
“Keep in mind that you can learn new research techniques, like data analysis, but not abandon the human aspects of what you’re passionate about as you pursue different types of research,” Radde said.