The CA-REU will include both academic enrichment activities and social and cultural enrichment activities.
Academic Enrichment Activities – Research Projects: Each project will take a team-based approach where students will be working with another student as well as being mentored by the research mentors. Team members will meet weekly to discuss the ongoing activities of the research project.
RESEARCH PROJECTS FOR SUMMER 2021 (pending official funding)
Research Theme: The topic of mass shootings, defined as shootings with 4 or more victims, is one that is at the forefront of political and social debate. Such incidents appear to be increasing and the vast majority of these shootings have taken place in the Southeast region of the country, including a recent shooting on the UNC Charlotte campus. All of the students will work on organizing a variety of existing data sets on this topic (e.g., Mass Shooting Tracker, Mother Jones; the Stanford Mass Shootings in America & the Gun Violence Archive). Students will be trained in how to combine (where appropriate) and clean the data as well as how to add additional data relevant to their unique sub-topics. Analyzing and understanding this type of data will allow students to make relevant policy recommendations that will hopefully lead to the prevention of fewer firearm deaths and injuries.
Project 1: Developing an empirically grounded typology of mass shooting offenders (3 students)
Goal: The goal of this project will be to develop a typology of offenders utilizing a variety of analytic techniques including, but not limited to association rules mining (ARM), cluster analysis and textual analysis. Description: Although social science has developed typologies for school shooters, less is known about mass murders. Students will explore how the conceptualization and operationalization of the mass shootings potentially impacts the typologies developed. Students will use the appropriate statistical techniques to identify common characteristics and themes and develop a typology of mass shooting offenders, with the goal of informing intervention and prevention strategies.
Project 2: Analyzing Temporal and Spatial Patterns in Mass Shootings (3 students)
Goal: To analyze temporal variations in mass shootings. Description: Longitudinal data will be utilized to examine yearly and monthly fluctuations in shootings. Time series analysis will be utilized to uncover temporal trends and determine if significant events such as the Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Pulse Nightclub or Las Vegas shootings impacted these trends. Temporal trends of mass murders will be compared with other types of murders to identify differences and commonalities. In addition, the impact of significant political and social events (e.g., presidential elections, infamous mass shootings, etc.) on these trends will be examined. Finally, students will utilize geographic analysis and mapping to identify hot spots across the United States and potential geographical patterns in the data. Being able to identify times and locations that are more susceptible to such events would aid law enforcement and policy makers in their ability to better allocate resources to prepare for or deter these events.
Project 3: The Economic Consequences of Mass Shootings (3 students)
Goal: To identify the various economic consequences of having a mass shooting take place in specific localities. Description: While the impact of mass shootings in terms of life loss and emotional pain to victims’ families as well as survivors cannot be underestimated, there is a very real economic impact to these shootings as well. The direct economic impacts include such things as medical costs and the cost of the criminal justice and emergency responses. Indirect costs are much more varied and include such things as the impact on local economies which has been noted to include decreased property values, reductions in employment and fewer businesses. In contrast, such events seem to drive an increase in firearm sales, even while the stock prices of firearms manufacturers decreases immediately following these events. Students will examine economic indicators in select locations prior to and subsequently following a mass shooting to determine the impact of the event on the local economy. Students will be able to geographically visualize the extent of the impact as well as compare similar locations with and without mass shootings using such analytic techniques as propensity score matching.