Brown School’s Summer Institute Offers Skill-Building Classes

March 8, 2017

The 2017 Summer Institute will offer a number of courses on statistical analysis, including introductions to software like GIS, Python, R, SAS, and Stata. (Photo © Whitney Curtis)


Ganesh M. Babulal got excited when he heard from colleagues about “R,” a new, free statistical software package developed by scientists.

As a post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Neurology, Babulal thought the software could support his current research into the decline of driving skills in older adults.

Ganesh Babulal learned the software R in order to build complex statistical models for his research on older adults’ decline in driving skills.

But mastering the software wasn’t easy. “R has a steep learning curve,” he said. When Babulal heard about a weeklong course on the software offered by the Brown School’s Summer Institute, both he and his mentor, Catherine Roe, signed up.

“The introductory course was a great experience into learning more about R and getting our feet wet,” he said. He said what he learned was immediately useful in helping to build the complex statistical models with which to pattern the decline in driving skills over time.

The 2017 Summer Institute will take place the weeks of June 19 and June 26, offering classes in areas like system dynamics, management and leadership, statistical analysis, policy and evaluation.

Nonprofit and government employees, including Washington University employees, are offered a special rate of $400 for the first class and $350 for a second class. (The general admission rate is $650 per class.) The registration deadline is June 2.

This year’s institute features nine classes that have never been offered by the Brown School before:

  • Words, Not Numbers: Using Qualitative Methods to Collect Information
  • Introduction to Cost-Effectiveness Analysis for Evaluating Policies and Programs
  • Introduction to System Dynamics Modeling and Simulation
  • Community Organizing and Advocacy
  • Community Based System Dynamics
  • Data Management & Visualization: Advanced Applications of R
  • Managing EBP: Integrating Social Science into Organizational Leadership
  • Developing Comprehensive Program Evaluation Plans
  • Introduction to Python for Public Health Data Analysis

A complete course listing and additional information can be found here.

“The Brown School’s Summer Institute offers graduate students and practitioners from our community a unique opportunity to come together to build public health and macro-practice social work skills,” said Janet Gillow, director of Professional Development Programs at the Brown School.

“The pace is rigorous and dynamic,” she said. “In just a week, Summer Institute classes help our participants build a marketable competency they didn’t have before.”

Babulal said the Summer Institute’s courses would be useful for many at the Washington University School of Medicine. “I would really recommend it to the medical school community – students, post-docs or faculty,” he said. “It’s worth learning a new skill that can be directly applied to your research.”