Sociology M.S. in Social Research

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Internship Opportunity (for Spring, 2022)

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    Jessie Daniels

    The Modern Language Association is looking for a research intern to work on the 2021 Modern Language Association census of language enrollments at US colleges and universities. A position will be available for spring 2022. The internship will provide data collection and data cleaning experience, but could also involve some data analysis. The intern will learn how to elicit data from institutions of higher education, how to enter the data, how to work with data in the MLA enrollments database, and how to keep track of a multitude of details on responding and non-responding institutions. He or she will apply the skills acquired in their coursework to a real-world project. Using Excel and Access, the intern will do comparisons of enrollment data over time to find anomalies and inconsistencies. The intern will learn about the value of a quantifiable data set for higher education, why it is needed, and how it is used in determining policies and guiding programmatic decisions in humanities education.

    MLA enrollment census results are recognized as the standard in the field for measuring language interest in higher education in the United States, and have been gathered since 1958. The census solicits information from all institutions of higher learning in which languages are offered. Our response rate has consistently been above 95%. The census provides indispensable information for planning language programs for humanities divisions, language departments, and administrators. Publishers depend on enrollment figures for developing book projects. Public and private agencies consult the MLA census to plan future funding. We provide the aggregated census results to federal and state agencies, academic departments, major newspapers, and organizations serving the language-teaching profession. All new census data is added to our public online database, which allows for longitudinal studies:



    On one level, the work of the research intern involves contacting representatives at colleges and universities, entering institutional responses, maintaining detailed records on institutions, comparing 2021 results to those of previous years, and contacting nonrespondents. It is crucial for the intern to maintain detailed and accurate records on which institutions were contacted, when, and what the results were of the contact. But on a more important, higher level, it calls for great attention to detail, the ability to balance many tasks at once, and the skill to interact with college and university representatives diplomatically and persuasively. It involves internet searches for sometimes elusive data.


    This job requires contacting institutional representatives by mail, email, and phone to ask them to provide their enrollment numbers in languages other than English for fall 2021. The institutions are not required to provide us with their data, and as a result, the job requires skill in diplomacy, tact, persuasion, and persistence (historically the census has an impressive 95% to 98% response rate). The intern will need to use judgement to determine when a contact is not likely to provide data, and will need to search institution websites to find alternate contacts.


    The intern will also need to determine when to collect enrollment data from institution websites rather than from contacts. They will need to have excellent web search skills to find enrollment data online. The online course listings must be evaluated – courses in translation and non-language courses need to be eliminated as ineligible. Enrollments in all eligible courses need to be categorized by level and language. Then they must be aggregated and entered into the database.


    The intern will be supervised by the Associate Director of Programs and Head of Research, Natalia Lusin.


    Natalia Lusin bio

    Natalia Lusin is Associate Director of Programs and Head of Research in the Office of Programs at the Modern Language Association. She has worked at the MLA in a research capacity since 1992, and as Associate Director since 2012. She conducts data gathering and data analysis for studies on the modern language field, among them the MLA enrollment census, considered the standard measure of language interest in higher education in the US. As part of a longterm longitudinal study, she tracks and analyzes the number and types of positions in the MLA Job List, the primary source for jobs in the field.


    Publications include “The MLA Job List, 2018-19,” “The MLA Survey of Postsecondary Entrance and Degree Requirements for Languages Other Than English, 2009-10,” “The ADFL Chairs’ Compensation Survey,” and “The Distribution of Gender in Language Doctorates.” She has co-authored the MLA enrollments reports since 2006, and was co-author of “Successful College and University Foreign Language Programs.” In addition, she has given papers on the enrollment census at the MLA convention in 2015 and 2020, and at ADFL seminars in 2017 and 2019.


    She holds a BA in Russian from Queens College, CUNY, a PhD in Russian literature and language from Columbia University, and a certificate from the Russian (now Harriman) Institute of Columbia University. She is the author of Russian Grammar (Barron’s, 1992) and Master the Basics: Russian (Barron’s 1995) and was Assistant Professor of Russian literature and language at Hunter College, CUNY from 1988 to 1990.

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