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PORES is a research program that aims to train undergraduates in public policy, elections research and data analytics.

Credit: Courtesy of Rama/Creative Commons

Political Science professor John Lapinski is launching a new program, the Penn Program for Opinion Research and Election Studies, this spring. In addition to his duties as a professor, Lapinski is also the director of the Elections Unit at NBC, positioning this program uniquely between the two worlds.

PORES is a research program that aims to train undergraduates in public policy, elections research and data analytics. 

“There is no program like this at any other university, nor do I think there ever could be, really. The connections aren't there," Lapinski said. "We really have this sort of opportunity to provide a very valuable service to NBC News... And it’s great for Penn, because what undergraduate doesn’t want to sit at the decision desk at NBC News?”

PORES has been in beta-testing for the past few years. Students have pursued research tasks like writing research papers and working at NBC News on election day. While the low profile has kept the program from getting much attention, it is set to roll out with more summer fellowships and the creation of a new PORES minor.

“It’s one of the only undergraduate public opinions survey research programs out there in the country,” Assistant Director Hannah Hartig said. “It’s exciting that Penn will finally have its own hub.”

The program has the “the encouragement and support of basically everybody here at Penn from President Gutmann downwards,” Lapinski said, claiming that the program addresses a niche that students want filled.

“There’s clear demand — students want this,” Lapinski said.  

He also mentioned this program aims to be inclusive to the whole Penn undergraduate community, and he doesn’t “want this to be just to be political science students doing this," he said. "I still want Annenberg students, I want students from the School of Engineering.” 

Lapinski also hopes to spread the program beyond Penn. “We’ll have people affiliated with PORES throughout the country. The scope here is we don't want to make it big in the sense of 'huge in numbers' but we want to make it 'big in importance.'"

Past students have only positive things to say about the program.

“I think the professors do a good job of getting you to engage the topics independently, rather than giving you a very strict set of tasks," College junior Zac Endter said. “I don't know how many other programs in the University are like that.”

A previous headline referred to the relationship between PORES and NBC as an "informal partnership." The DP regrets the error.

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