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Hobby Center for the Study of Texas

Contact Us

Hobby Center for the Study of Texas
Rice University
PO Box 1892
MS 202
Houston, TX 77251-1892
Phone: 713-348-4208
e-mail: hobbycenter@rice.edu 

Exemplary Research Questions

Examples of the type of questions that would be appropriate for consideration for examination by the center include:

Demographic and Socioeconomic Change
  • What are the major demographic trends expected for Texas in the coming years, how will they vary by area and region within the state (e.g., Panhandle, Central Texas, East Texas, South Texas, Rural and Urban Texas, metropolitan and nonmetropolitan Texas) and what are the implications of such patterns for the economic, social, public service, and fiscal needs of Texas?
  • How will Texas be affected by different patterns of immigration and immigration policies both now and in the future and what are the social, demographic and economic implications of alternative patterns and forms of immigration?
  • To what extent are, and should, the diverse populations that characterize Texas today be integrated into Texas and US society and what are the implications of different patterns related to such integration?
  • With the aging of the Texas population, what forms of delivery systems and what types of programs should be developed to ensure appropriate options for the care of the elderly?

Health and Human Services Issues
  • What are the most appropriate needs for Texas philanthropic organizations to address during periods of economic stagnation or decline? For example, many philanthropic organizations in Texas have decided to devote nearly all their resources to meeting basic human needs during the current economic downturn but what effects do such policies have on the need to address problems the solutions to which may be even more significant for improving the long-term viability and stability of such groups? How might the efforts of such organizations be mutually and cooperatively coordinated to broaden their impacts on long-term as well as short-term solutions to the needs of the most impoverished and disadvantaged in Texas?
  • Texas like other parts of the United States, faces rapidly increasing health care costs for both public and private organizations which may or may not be met by current national health care reforms. How can the health care costs for state and local government employees and retirees be met and what types of programs will be necessary to meet such needs? Similarly, what are the health care costs likely to impact the private-sector in Texas in the coming years and what are the implications of such costs for private-sector competitiveness in the coming years? If a national health plan is initiated how will it impact Texas and subpopulations in Texas?
  • Given Texas relatively large number of persons in poverty, with no health insurance and dependent on Medicaid and food stamps what alternatives might best serve the current needs of such population subgroups while providing mechanisms to allow them to obtain the skills necessary to become self reliant?
  • Texas employment patterns show substantial diversity by region of the state, by industry type and in terms of salary and income levels and mobility to higher skill and income categories. To what extent are existent state and federally funded programs sufficient to transition Texas employees to occupations and industries that will retain the state’s productivity and competitiveness?

Elementary, Secondary and Higher Education
  • How will the growth and diversification of the Texas population affect the configuration and curriculum needed by elementary, secondary and higher education systems in Texas?
  • Should the state’s institutions of higher education be differentiated by mission with their appropriations dependent on their fulfillment of specific state missions?
  • What are the implications and consequences of different forms and amounts of funding of public elementary, secondary and higher education?
  • To what extent are Texas programs aimed at improving high-school and college completion rates successful and cost-effective and how can their success be improved? (Texas like many other states has attempted to ensure that its children are competitive by creating and funding a variety of programs to ensure that they graduate from high school and are successful in college. Despite such efforts rates of high-school school completion in Texas are low, particularly for racial/ethnic minorities, and Texas colleges have high rates of remediation with questionable success in graduating students).

Economic Development
  • What forms of economic development are most effective in rural, suburban and urban areas in different part of Texas and what role should the state play in the provision of incentives for, and in the promotion of, different forms of development?
  • Given the changing population and forms of economic development in Texas what types of developments and geographic areas should be the major foci of state investments in education, technology, industry, and science?
  • What are the long-term solutions to the high levels of socioeconomic need in Texas? What forms of human and economic development are most effective in altering the long-term problems of poverty and need and ensuring long-term economic prosperity in Texas?
  • Texas is both a new and old energy state with both extensive gas and oil reserves and new developments in areas such as wind and solar energy. What are the most appropriate forms of public involvement in the development of these energy forms?

Public Service and Infrastructure
  • Texas rapid growth has led to extensive infrastructure and public service needs. What mix of public and private funding should be used to support highway and road construction, street and water system developments, electrical and other service needs?
  • To what extent should public transportation be used to address Texas growing traffic problems and how should such systems be structured and funded?

Environmental and Natural Resource Use
  • Texas growth has placed extensive stress on its water resources? What should be done to address the water needs of rapidly growing areas in water limited areas? Should and, if so, how should state policies be changed to address water issues?
  • Many of Texas cities are experiencing air quality and other environmental issues. How should state regulatory policies be expanded or limited to ensure both continued growth and adequate air quality?
  • Texas parks and many environmentally sensitive areas appear to be threatened by declining state resources and budgets for their maintenance and expansion. What are the most appropriate policies for preserving such areas and funding their preservation?