Sarah Kerman

Sarah Kerman.
Bass Connections projects foster genuine collaboration among undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and community members. Those relationships have and will continue to benefit my intellectual growth.


Public Policy Studies ’18

Project Team

In Spring 2015 I took a course titled History of the Modern Regulatory State, taught by Professor Ed Balleisen. Many of the case studies we examined piqued my interest. After learning about regulatory history, I found myself wanting to explore some contemporary applications of principles that the course brought up.

I joined the Reviewing Retrospective Regulatory Review team from May 2015 through April 2016. I had the opportunity to collaborate with a group of undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty who helped me develop my research, writing, and collaborative skills. Looking back, I didn’t foresee how having the opportunity to take ownership of part of the project would help me grow both intellectually and personally.

I think some of the most valuable moments for me were when the professors, undergraduates and graduate students on my team spent time discussing how best to move forward to accomplish the goals of the project. I gained a newfound recognition that different disciplines bring varying methodologies and that it can be useful to learn from a variety of approaches.

One highlight was when we took a team trip to Washington to interview federal agency staff about the extent and effectiveness of retrospective review they are conducting. I gained many insights about research design, as it was my first experience helping design and carry out a semi-structured interview.

Another highlight was having the opportunity to present our initial findings to a group of scholars convening about regulatory policy on the Regulatory Cooperation and Administrative Oversight Panel at the 2016 Rethinking Regulation Symposium hosted by Duke’s Kenan Institute for Ethics. Participating in the panel, responding to questions about our project and hearing about the work of other researchers focusing on regulatory issues revealed lots of possible venues for further research and really helped me get a better sense of how our team’s project could fit into the field of existing research on ex-post regulatory review.

Over the course of the year I began sharing what I had been working on with my friends and family. I found myself forming a solid explanation of how Bass Connections projects fit together after I had the opportunity to attend the Edge lightning series talks. I presented what our team was working on and heard from other teams who were working on projects that encompassed topics such as health research, technology, the arts, and education inequities. While the themes, structure, and composition of the teams varied greatly, I realized the projects had a few commonalities. I was impressed by the interdisciplinarity of the projects, but I think what stood out to me most was the idea that these projects are fostering spaces for genuine collaboration among undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and community members. I believe this interaction was possibly the aspect of the project’s structure I found most helpful, and even now after the project has ended, I find those relationships have and will continue to benefit my intellectual growth.