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Professor Hermann Dülmer, University of Cologne: ‘I find cooperation with the HSE highly attractive both, for methodological and substantive reasons ’

Laboratory for Comparative Social Research of the National Research University Higher School of Economics has organized the 3d LCSR Summer School on “Multilevel Confirmatory Factor Analysis (MCFA) and Multilevel Structural Equation Modeling (MSEM) in MPLUS”. The School will take place from August 18 - 30, 2013, in St. Petersburg. The goal of this summer school is to provide assistance for graduate students and young researchers from various fields within social sciences in developing their skills in quantitative social research with a focus on Multilevel Structural Equation Modeling and Multilevel Confirmatory Factor Analysis. The main course in the LCSR Summer school will be held by professor Hermann Dülmer (University of Cologne and GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences). Kirill Zhirkov (MSc, Utrecht University; M.A., European University at Saint Petersburg), an LCSR research fellow, will be the assistant for professor Dülmer.

The HSE news portal asked Professor  Dülmer to tell us about his plans for the LCRS Summer School and about how he first got involved with the HSE

— How did your cooperation with the HSE start?

— In spring 2011 I got an email from Christian Welzel,the professor of LCSR. He asked me whether I would like to give a multilevel course at the summer school of the LCSR in St. Petersburg. He also informed me that he and Ronald Inglehart would be present at the Summer School. For a number of years I have given multi-level courses at Summer Schools in the University of Lisbon, for GESIS in Mannheim, and sometimes for other Universities. So, to me the offer was a very attractive opportunity to collect teaching experiences in a big country I never visited before. Not only as a sociologist but also personally I was very interested in learning more about Russia and the state of empirical social research there. Furthermore, as a sociologist I grew up with Ronald Inglehart’s theory of value change and later on with the common contributions of Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel about cultural change. Since I’m also working in the area of values and cultural change, the ubstantive research work at the LSCR is very interesting for me. So, I find cooperation with the HSE highly attractive both, for methodological and substantive reasons.

— What are your goals and expectations for the Summer School?

— My goal is that after the Summer School, every participant should be able to estimate his or her own multilevel structural equation models. Moreover, maybe some participants will use the opportunity the Summer School offers to start working on a common paper. That would be great.

— What's your teaching method?

— When I finished school, I first started studying to become a teacher (later on I also finished my degree in sociology). One thing I learned is – and that sounds very trivial but in practice it is more difficult – that teachers have to pick up students where you find them. To know where students are requires that they should be encouraged to ask questions if something remains unclear. This is essential in order not to get lost and to be able to go together to the point where the common goal of our course is reached. This means at the same time that a time schedule for the course has the main purpose to give an overview about where we are. If necessary it should allow us to reduce the speed and to catch up time later on. Furthermore, from my own experiences I know how important it is to have the opportunity of estimating your own models. In this way the first (and probably most important) steps can be done together.

— Have you been to Russia before? What would you like to see in St. Petersburg and its surroundings?

— The first time I went to Russia was in 2011 to give a multi-level course in Pushkin close to St. Petersburg. I really enjoyed seeing the very impressive Catherine Palace which was located close to where the Summer School took place. On Saturday evening we went to St. Petersburg which is also an impressive city. However, it was a pity that due to stormy weather the bridges were not opened in the evening. So this is an event that I really would like to see.

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE news service

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