Weekly Round-Up # 5: From Blogging to Analytical Research

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Our Maine Government class blog has been dormant for a few weeks, but with good reason. First, the students went on Spring Break. Here at the University of Maine, we have a two week “Spring Break” (hazard quotes because as anyone knows, March in Maine is not exactly “spring”). Theories abound as to why this is. Since I came here three years ago, I have heard about a dozen different explanations as to why we have this longer break. Perhaps the simplest explanation is that after three months of Maine winter, we all just need a bit of time off.

Upon returning, the students began work on their “blog audits.” The students were assessing their past posts and utilizing the work they’d been doing around their broad policy issue to think about a focused research topic and question, on which they can write a longer paper. I stole this idea from the wonderful blog ProfHacker, and you can read more about it here. The bottom line is that last week’s posts were likely helpful to the students in terms of narrowing down their research question and thinking systematically about a topic for an analytical policy analysis, but probably not the most enthralling reading for someone looking to learn more about Maine politics. Thus, there was no “round up” post for that week.

But this week, we’re back! From now until the rest of the semester, the students will be working diligently on their paper topics and so many of the posts may reflect that–shorter, more narrowly-focused analyses that will end up being integrated into their larger paper. This week is no exception.

First and foremost, another one of our bloggers was featured in the Bangor Daily News this week. Liam Nee, whose blog Emigrationland focus on Maine’s “age gap” and demographic issues in the state, had an op-ed published in Wednesday’s print edition (and online about 24 hours prior). In it, he reflects on his own experience as a 20-something, soon-to-be-graduate and the choice that he and many young people will soon be facing: whether to stay in Maine or to go elsewhere to seek out more job opportunities and likely higher wages. He expresses his desire to stay but also expresses frustration at state-level economic development strategies that focus on how to attract investment, perhaps at the expense of what might entice individuals to stay in Maine. He also offers suggestions on what the state might to achieve this policy goal.

We have a number of other great blogposts: John Chase continues his focus on the ways that large corporations that pay low-wages can drive up entitlement spending with a particular focus on McDonalds. Jaymi Thibault continues her semester-long focus on poverty by examining Governor Paul Lepage’s recent proposal to target “electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card misuse.” Trey Stewart continues his focus on the intersection between health and food, examining organic foods and a program by the organization Food AND Medicine designed to incentivize healthy food consumption among low-income individuals in the greater Bangor area. And Spencer Warmuth examines the impasse between Governor Paul LePage and the State Legislature over a proposal to raise a cap on hydropower.

This week, we’re diving headlong into the policy history leading up to the current debates over Mainecare expansion (a discussion that couldn’t be more timely). Stay tuned for more informative and thoughtful analysis next week.

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About robertglover2013

I teach in the Honors College and the Department of Political Science at the University of Maine.
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