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The ISR, Anchoring Itself To The Community And The University

Sacramento State's Institute for Social Research (ISR) is an interdisciplinary applied research center located at Sacramento State Downtown. Increasingly a mainstay in the Capital Region, many local and state agencies look to the ISR to conduct research and evaluations to inform their programs and policies.

As the COVID pandemic has brought about significant shifts in our day-to-day lives, it has also impacted the way in which ISR conducts research. In addition to the ISR staff working remotely and conducting meetings through Zoom, they have had to modify traditional data collection practices to accommodate the realities of the pandemic.

ISR provides Sacramento State students a myriad of paid research opportunities. For example, every year dozens of students are recruited to take part in a state-wide data collection project on behalf of the California Department of Public Health to track the illegal sales of tobacco to minors. Students are trained and sent out across the state to conduct field research, capturing data in an app. While traveling has been postponed due to the pandemic, another crucial component—a statewide retailer poll measuring the impacts and implementation of tobacco laws, usually carried out in an inhouse calling lab—has been successfully modified to manage student interviewers remotely. ISR's remote interviewing capabilities have now expanded into other projects such as Radio Bilingue; an evaluation for a Central Valley non-profit radio station with a national listener base, which provides programming, news, and resources for the Latinx population.

“The Institute has partnered with local and state agencies for over 30 years to better understand policies and programs in the region. We’re excited to be a part of Sacramento State’s recent commitment to becoming the region’s Anchor University,” said Shannon Williams, director of Institute for Social Research.

Last year, ISR began a successful partnership to conduct research for Capital Public Radio (CapRadio) and Valley Vision for the COVID-19 Resilience Poll. The public opinion poll is a multipart polling and reporting initiative designed to explore the experiences and attitudes of people in the Sacramento region during the pandemic. This partnership illustrates all three organization’s enduring commitment to strengthening communities by engaging the public and identifying actionable insights to the region’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 situation.

It is opportunities like these that provide students research experience, which are often hard to come by—experiences which help prepare them for increasingly competitive fields. To that end, the ISR helps fulfil the university mission preparing students for leadership, service, and success. With future contracts and grants funding, the ISR hopes to expand its role and further integrate itself by providing students with invaluable experience in the field.

--Nathan Garst, Institute for Social Research

To learn more about ISR, please visit their website at or contact ISR’s executive director Shannon Williams at

Front of Sac State Downtown Building

ISR part of Sacramento State’s recent commitment to becoming the region’s Anchor University