No more ‘duh’ studies

The University needs to prioritize economically applicable research.

According to Minnesota Public Radio, a University of Minnesota researcher claims âÄústudents living in co-ed dorms are much more likely to engage in risky sexual contact and drinking than those who live in single-sex dorms.âÄù To those with common sense or functioning intuition, the studyâÄôs conclusions leave one word lingering in mind: âÄúDuh.âÄù Brian Willoughby authored the study while a doctoral candidate at the University; he now teaches at Brigham Young University. The obvious conclusion that students in co-ed dorms have more fun than their environmentally suppressed peers does little to stretch the horizons of discovery and does even less to provide useful economic application. Meanwhile, new research by corn agronomist Jeff Coulter from the University Extension offers a technique that may help regional corn growers increase yields 9 to 19 percent with a method known as known as narrow row farming. This practical, solutions-based research constitutes a strong assertion of the UniversityâÄôs economic importance to the state of Minnesota. With the University facing a dire âÄúnew fiscal realityâÄù in which state higher education funding has dropped precipitously, to show Minnesota that this University is a serious engine of economic development, so much so to merit substantial state reinvestments, requires doctoral candidates and grant-awarded researchers alike to engage in solution-based discovery. The University must do a better job of steering student research in directions beneficial to the larger economy and creating explicit research proposal criteria that acknowledge the importance of studies with findings applicable to Minnesota and its economy.