The Charger Blog

Liberty Scholars’ Research Makes Real-World Impact

As part of the University’s Liberty Initiative program, several Chargers collaborated on a research project exploring the high cost of housing in Nevada and what could be done about it. The think tank they presented their findings to is now including their work in a publication it is using to foster education.

August 4, 2022

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

The University’s campus in Orange, Conn.
The University’s campus in Orange, Conn.

As a student at the University of New Haven, Michael Calabrese ’21 was part of a team of student researchers who studied affordable housing in Nevada as well as what can be done to address the shortage of it. Their work is now making an important impact, as a Nevada think tank has included it in a report that is being used for fundraising and education.

Calabrese’s contribution to the project was part of his work as member of the University’s Liberty Initiative, a program that enables students to take part in real-world research and consulting projects while networking with professionals, businesses, and think tanks.

Among those is the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI), which has now published a 40-page booklet featuring the work Calabrese and his teammates completed last year. They presented their findings to the think tank virtually, and Calabrese is excited their research is already making an impact.

“When I first took on the project, I was under the assumption they would look at our work, appreciate it, and then use that to inspire their own research afterward,” said Calabrese, who earned a bachelor’s degree in sport management. “But to then learn they would be using our findings to present to state officials was great, and it validated our work. I truly was not expecting our work to be directly used in publications, and it speaks to how impactful our research was and the great work our team was able to do.”

As part of his research, Calabrese, who is now pursuing his Master of Business Administration at Bryant University, explored the economic rationale behind his group’s findings. He learned about how affordable housing challenges occur nationwide, as well as in Nevada, in particular. Focusing on economic events such as the Great Recession and burst of the housing bubble in 2008, he tied in concepts such as supply and demand when examining migration patterns across the country related to each region’s House Price Index.

‘We are very proud’

The booklet, which is also available online, is a recent NPRI publication titled, The Construction of a Crisis, Why is Nevada’s Housing so Expensive? Part I. John Tsarpalas, president of NPRI, says he was very impressed by the quality of the students’ writing, noting that few students can write at that level.

Michael Calabrese ’21.
Michael Calabrese ’21.

“The well-written analysis of Nevada’s affordable housing situation wouldn’t have been possible without the detailed research provided by University of New Haven students," he said. "Their skill in contrasting conditions in Nevada with the rest of the nation, proficiency in assessing regulatory conditions, and aptitude for identifying potential solutions proved invaluable in our efforts to shine light on this issue.”

Focused on student outcomes, the Liberty Initiative provides students with paid internships and positions. John Rosen, MBA co-directs the Liberty Initiative with Maria Tcherni-Buzzeo, Ph.D., an associate professor of criminal justice, and David Sacco, MBA, a practitioner in residence in the University’s Finance Department.

“Completing such major pieces of student-led research is key to the Liberty Initiative’s mission to provide transformative educational experiences for our Liberty Scholars,” said Prof. Rosen, an adjunct professor of economics at the University. “Students have the opportunity to contribute to significant projects, present their output to the sponsoring think tank, engage in networking, and gain the confidence needed to succeed in their careers after college. We are very proud of the dedication and professionalism our Liberty Scholars brought to this project.”

‘It doesn't get any more real-world than that’

The goal was to make the program self-funding, and, indeed, many organizations such as NPRI are now funding this research, creating more opportunities for collaboration and for students to excel. NPRI has now asked students to study the economic impact that regulations and regulatory agencies at the state level have on small and medium-sized businesses. Students will quantify the economic burden businesses face, compare the impact on Nevada businesses to that in other states, and identify what can be learned from “success stories” across the country and around the world.

“This program is so exciting for me because it gives our students a chance to work on the kinds of projects that they will be doing in their careers,” said Prof. Sacco. “Their response has been amazing, as they are meeting deadlines and delivering high-quality work that our clients are using to further their businesses and missions. It doesn't get any more real-world than that.”

For Calabrese, the sport management grad and Liberty Initiative alum, the program was a wonderful learning experience and opportunity to apply what he learned in the classroom.

“I found this project to be valuable in learning about real-world applications I discussed in my classes at the University of New Haven, especially when it comes to understanding the fluctuating housing market and the impact different events have had on it throughout the years,” he said. “It also helped challenge my thought process on these concepts. I learned so much from my colleagues, and I was fortunate enough to be able to work with them.”