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Dr. Shannon Lane Collaborates on a Study of Voter Engagement

Dr. Shannon Lane

Dr. Shannon Lane, associate professor of social work at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, collaborated with three other authors to publish “From the Empire State to the North Star State: Voter Engagement in the 2016 Election” in the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare.

In the paper, the coauthors describe a classroom-based voter engagement project conducted in two undergraduate social work programs in different U.S. states with significantly different voting laws. “We describe the rationale, process of implementing the project, evaluation, and review the results in the context of the 2016 election. We suggest future research that can help develop best practices and methods for implementation of voter engagement in social work practice and education in the future.”

For their efforts, the four authors (Dr. Lane, along with Dr. Katharine M. Hill, St. Catherine University and University of St. Thomas, School of Social Work; and Jenna Powers and Tanya Rhodes Smith, both of the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work) received the 2020 Faculty Research Award from Influencing Social Policy. The award is given award as a recognition of “significant social work contributions to the scholarship of teaching and learning regarding policy analysis and practice.”

(l-r): Sunny Harris Rome, president of the organization; Dr. Katharine Hill; Dr. Shannon Lane

“I have worked with Katharine, Jenna, and Tanya on voting-related work for years. This particular project came out of an experience that Katharine and I had during the 2016 election. We both worked with our classes of undergraduate social work students, mine in New York (although not at YU) and hers in Minnesota.  Obviously, no one knew what an intense experience that election would become.”

They discovered, after reviewing their data, that the election had been a much different experience for our two groups of students. “Her students in Minnesota (where there are many structures in place to make voting easier) felt more confident in their ability to change the political system at the end of the semester.  My New Yorkers (which has more restrictive voting laws than many people realize), felt less confident about the impact of their vote at the end of the semester.” With the help of the other two authors, who provided scholarly and data analysis support, the used the writing of the paper to try to figure out what had happened and why.

“This is the second award this article has been given,” said Dr. Lane, “and is also one of 10 articles that I’ve had the opportunity to write with members of the Humphreys Institute team, including several with Dr. Nancy A. Humphreys, the Institute founder and my mentor, who passed away last year.”