People

Nelson Lim

Executive Director

Nelson Lim joined the staff of Fels in August, 2015. Lim is a senior social scientist at RAND and professor of policy analysis at Pardee RAND Graduate School. During the last 15 years he has worked with local and federal government organizations including police and fire departments, the Department of Defense, and the National Security Administration on a wide range of policy issues. He also served as research director for the congressionally mandated Military Leadership Diversity Commission, which conducted a comprehensive assessment of policies that provide opportunities for the promotion and advancement of minority members and women in the Armed Forces. In addition, Lim is leading the development of the National Survey of Victim Service Organization (NSVSO), a national survey conducted by Bureau of Justice Statistics to systematically collect information from victim service providers. He has conducted studies of military recruiting and retention of active-duty as well as reserve components for the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force (USAF). He has also conducted research on the most effective diversity practices by Fortune 500 companies, and on barriers to improve diversity among the leadership of various government agencies and corporations, including the National Security Agency, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Army, and USAF. Lim also led studies specifically designed to assist police departments, including the San Diego Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, in alleviating recruiting difficulties.

Lim earned his doctorate in sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is known as a student-centered mentor and career advisor, with research interests in social inequality, race/ethnicity, immigration, diversity management, research methodology, quantitative and qualitative methodology, manpower, and personnel analysis.

Email: nellim@sas.upenn.edu
Phone: 215-746-2800

Dr. Lim's Google Scholar Profile

Dr. Lim currently holds office hours for students each Tuesday between 5:00pm and 6:00pm and Wednesday between 9:00am and 11:00am. Click here to schedule an appointment.

Courses Taught

Instructor: Nelson Lim
Course Section: 001
On-Campus Day(s): Tuesday
On-Campus Time: 2:00pm-5:00pm
Course Description:

Course Overview

In the 21st century, “Big Data” surround us. Data are being collected about all aspects of our daily lives. To improve transparency and accountability, an increasing number of public organizations are sharing their data with the public. But data are not information. You need good information to make sound decisions. To be an effective public leader, you will need to learn how to harness information from available data. 

This course is designed to expand upon core concepts in data management and analysis that you learned in GAFL 640: Program Evaluations and Data Analysis. This course will introduce you to key elements of data science, including data transformation, analysis, visualization, and presentation. An emphasis is placed on manipulating data to create informative and compelling analyses that provide valuable evidence in public policy debates. We will teach you how to present information using interactive apps that feature software packages. As in all courses at Fels, we will concentrate on more practical skills than theoretical concepts behind the techniques.  

Course Structure

The course proceeds in four sections. The first section reviews data visualization in R. The second section introduces tools of data management, storage, and manipulation. The third section presents descriptive and predictive data mining techniques to identify patterns in data. The final section exposes students to Shiny, a web application program in R. R-Shiny apps are interactive visualizations of data. The apps help to present the most important relationships or findings to diverse audiences (after the long, hard work of cleaning, managing, and analyzing a dataset!). 

Public Management Fall 2017
Instructor: Nelson Lim
Course Section: 001
On-Campus Day(s): Monday
On-Campus Time: 2:00pm-5:00pm
Course Description:

This core MPA course is intended to help each student to learn more than he or she already knows about public management both as a profession and as a field of academic study and to enjoy the company of supportive peers, instructors, and special guests as he or she contemplates a post-MPA career in governance. This course satisfies a core requirement in the Master of Public Administration full-time program.

Instructor: Nelson Lim
Course Section: 001
Day(s): Monday, Wednesday
Time: 10:00am-11:30am
Course Location: On-Campus
Course Description:

This course is a requirement for MPA full-time students who started in Fall 2015 or later. It is an elective for MPA full-time students who started Fall 2014 or earlier.

One of the trademarks of the 21st century public management is the usage of data and analysis in the decision making process. A successful public leader will use empirical evidence to guide her decisions. She knows what types of data and analysis she should ask her analysts to collect and conduct, how to consume the results they generate, and how to transform analytical results into effective communication with stakeholders. This class will help you become that 21st century public leader. My goal for this class is to teach you fundamental ideas of performance management, program evaluation, and data analysis. At the end of this course, you will understand key principles of performance measures and program evaluation, be able to process, manage, and analyze quantitative data using Excel, and learn to write basic programing tasks using R. I picked Excel because it is a standard software that most organizations already have. It is not an ideal software to conduct sophisticated statistical analysis, but being a power-user of Excel will make you a valued employee. I will teach you how to use it to conduct reproducible analysis using R. It is the future of quantitative analysis. Most importantly, it is free. Knowing how to use R is an attractive skill for your employer. In addition, I will teach you how to transform analytical results into effective communication.

MPA Capstone Spring 2017 On-Campus
Course: MPA Capstone
Instructor: Nelson Lim, Josh Power
Course Section: 300
Day(s): Wednesday
Time: 2:00pm-5:00pm
Course Location: On-Campus
Course Description:

The completion of a capstone project is one of the academic requirements for the Master of Public Administration (MPA) at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government. The capstone project represents a way for graduate students to apply their multi-disciplinary learning from the program to a specific public administration challenge(s) or issue(s). To successfully complete a capstone project, a student must receive a passing grade for her capstone paper and the associated briefing. The student’s capstone paper resembles a policy memo that an administrative staff writes to decision makers and stakeholders. The paper integrates and deepens the student’s learning from the program. More importantly, the capstone paper provides a way for a student to bring her/his learning and knowledge from the program back into her/his chosen career. The research focus should be one that is of great interest to the students as well as one a potential organization will benefit from.

Data Science for Public Policy Fall 2016 On-Campus
Instructor: Nelson Lim
Course Section: 001
Day(s): Monday, Wednesday
Time: 10:00am-11:30am
Course Location: On-Campus
Course Description:

TBA

Public Management Fall 2016 On-Campus
Instructor: Nelson Lim
Course Section: 001
Day(s): Monday, Wednesday
Time: 2:00pm-3:30pm
Course Location: On-Campus
Course Description:

This core MPA course is intended to help each student to learn more than he or she already knows about public management both as a profession and as a field of academic study, and to enjoy the company of supportive peers, instructors, and special guests as he or she contemplates a post-MPA career in governance.

This course satisfies a core requirement in the Master of Public Administration and Certificate in Politics programs.

Advanced Public Management Fall 2016 On-Campus
Instructor: Nelson Lim
Course Section: 01
Day(s): Tuesday
Time: 6:45pm-7:45pm
Course Location: On-Campus
Course Description:

This course is designed to provide students with a scientific foundation of management and leadership theory to inform their actions as current and aspiring public leaders. We will draw from diverse disciplines within applied social science, including positive psychology, organizational psychology, system thinking, and change management. Students will have the opportunity to apply these theoretical frameworks to their specific academic and professional interests and will play an important role in the direction of the course. The course will feature national and local public leaders as guest lecturers based on the areas of interest identified by students.

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Contact Information

Fels Institute of Government
University of Pennsylvania
3814 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: (215) 898-2600
Fax: (215) 746-2829

felsinstitute@sas.upenn.edu