City Life – Inquiry and Problem-Solving Exercise
Living in a big city like New York can be very challenging. City Planning is an interdisciplinary enterprise where scientists, humanists, engineers, psychologists, statisticians, citizens, politicians, etc. come together to offer solutions to improve quality of life in the city. These solution come in response to specific challenges that residents and visitors of the city face. To find such a solution, these people need to have clear and reliable (qualitative and quantitative) information about the problem they are solving.
For the variety of stakeholders in the city, many different things may be considered worthy of a City Planning study, depending on their interests and needs, e.g., regarding employment, education, city services, health, mobility, etc. A person living in the city might want to know, for example, whether his or her neighborhood is sufficiently protected from a fire, or whether there is a great disparity in this service across different neighborhoods in the city. Someone ready for college may want to know the extent to which a CUNY Bachelor’s degree helps him or her get a good-paying job in NYC or another city? A citizen’s group might wonder if there is racial bias in law enforcement.
There are four phases in the process by which the methods of Statistics can be used to pose such a question and to find information leading to a definitive answer, if one exists.
1. Based on lived experience, formulate a question about some living condition in the City that could be answered in a statistical study. Determine whether an observational study or an experiment is the better way to answer this question.
2. Identify what data would be needed to help answer the question. One would hope that an unbiased source of such data would be readily available.
3. Organize and interpret the data collected to find useful information that would help answer the question.
4. Make a reasonable conclusion based on the information you obtained.
In this exercise, we wish to focus on the first two of these phases. Suppose that the Mayor of NYC has an Office of Statistical Studies that has a modest budget to engage in City Planning studies to help form public policy. This group encourages recommendations from the public.
Please write a letter to the Director of the Mayor’s Office that describes a problem you are concerned about and state at least one specific research question that could motivate a statistical study. Give some background information and a convincing explanation for why resources should be expended to try to answer this question. Identify potential relevant data that can be used to answer the research question. You are not expected to collect any of your own data nor are you expected to answer the question yourself. That is the job of the Office. However, in your conclusion, you are allowed to speculate about what you expect the answer to be and describe what policy solutions you think might be appropriate if you are correct in your assumptions. For example, if you were to find out that the level of protection from fires does indeed vary greatly across the City, what would you suggest the City Planners do about that?
Your letter should be about two to three pages, in Times New Roman font size 12, double-spaced, and one inch (1”) in all margins. You may include an illustration, chart or graph (not larger than half a page) if you believe it will help justify the need for your study. This is a guided project and you can always ask your instructor any questions you may have.
You have a lot of freedom in selecting your topic. Topics of the essays written by students in the past have included questions about the quality of food at a CUNY cafeteria, the demographics of first-year students at LaGuardia, the habits of church-goers in the city, cell-phone use on public transit, math remediation, the impact of e-commerce, etc.
Your essay will be assessed based on the following criteria:
• You demonstrate that the question you select comes from some deliberation.
• You demonstrate that you are familiar with the four-step process that will be used to help answer your question.
• Your letter is written with clarity and politeness.
• You provide an adequate conclusion.
• You include references and citations where appropriate.
*********************NOTE: IT SHOULD BE WRITTEN IN THE FORM OF A LETTER, I AM FLEXIBLE ON WHAT ISSUE IS CHOSEN FOR THE LETTER ALTHOUGH THE WASTE DISPOSAL ISSUE WITHIN THE CITY IDEAL******
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