Marquette University
Press Release

Marquette political science professor honored with young scholar award

Dr. Phillip Rocco will use the young scholar award to conduct fieldwork on the 2020 census for a third book project

By - Jul 23rd, 2019 11:11 am
Phillip Rocco. Photo courtesy of Marquette University.

Phillip Rocco. Photo courtesy of Marquette University.

MILWAUKEE – Dr. Phillip Rocco, an assistant professor of political science at Marquette University, has been named a recipient of the Helen Way Klingler Young Scholar Award.

The U.S. census is a bedrock of democracy. The decennial count determines not only how states are represented in Congress, but also how federal funds are allocated and how the lines for state legislatures are drawn. Yet making the census as accurate as possible is a human task. Rocco’s research examines what states, cities and communities are doing to ensure that everyone counts.

Rocco will use the young scholar award to conduct fieldwork on the 2020 census for a third book project, Counting a Fragmented Country: Federalism, Techno-Politics, and the 2020 Census. He will interview state and local officials as well as community organizations involved in educating and motivating residents to take part in the 2020 census.

While the census is the responsibility of the federal government, Rocco is interested in how state and local actors are responding to emerging technical challenges as well as an ongoing conflict over the Trump administration’s decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census form. His research will investigate the factors that affect how public officials and community groups engage with the census, especially in areas where there are large “hard to count” populations.

The project was inspired by Rocco’s prior research on the politics of American federalism as well as conversations with students in his class, Numbers, Policy, and Democracy.

“The census is a taken-for-granted part of American democracy,” Rocco says. “But my students found it immediately fascinating. As we pored over old census forms and data, their questions and insights helped to open up new lines of inquiry.”

The Way Klingler Young Scholar Awards support promising young scholars in critical stages of their careers with awards up to $32,000. The awards are intended to fund $2,000 in operating costs and to cover 50 percent of salary to afford the recipient a one-semester sabbatical.

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