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Center for

Community Studies
2010 Annual Report

Center for Community Studies

College of Education and Human Development
Vanderbilt Peabody College
Vanderbilt University
Susan Saegert, Director
Mayborn 106D
Jill Robinson, Assistant Director
Cover Photos Courtesy of Jennifer Mokos and Jill Robinson

Table of Contents
Letter from the Director

Center Overview

Center Structure

Center Highlights
Small Grant Spotlight


New Programs


Center-Sponsored Events


Active Research Projects of Affiliated Members


Dear Friends and Colleagues:

The Center for Community Studies has had a year of growth while continuing to strive to find
ways to increase the quality of community life through research, program development and
partnerships with many different sectors. More, and more diverse, people attended our
functions (colloquia and conferences) than the previous year. Our collaborations with
community and governmental agencies expanded and bore fruit. For example, the Center
worked with a local non-profit housing agency (The Housing Fund) and the Metro Development
and Housing Authority to secure NSPII funds totaling $31 million dollars (see page 7). The
Center also supported affiliated faculty member Craig Anne Heflinger and student member
Marielle Lovecchio who collaborated with the Tennessee Health Care Campaign/ Tennessee
Small Business Coalition to survey small business owners about their opinions and experiences
with health care coverage (see page 6).

All of these efforts contribute to the goals of facilitating ongoing conversations, idea sharing and
collaboration around solving problems that communities face in these challenging times. In this
annual report, you will read about our new efforts to achieve these goals. They include the
initiation of a Community Matching Program, as well as our endeavor to facilitate the
development of a database to bring together different community statistics that would be widely
useful in analyzing community problems and policy impacts.

This report serves as another opportunity to expand the conversation, reach out to new
potential partners, report on our activities and spotlight the interesting work in which our
members are engaged. This report is divided into two sections. The first section describes CCS
achievements and new programs. The second section highlights the projects of our affiliated
members. Thank you for your continued support of the Center.

Sincerely yours,

Susan Saegert, Ph.D.

Director, Center for Community Studies
Professor, Graduate Program in Community Research and Action

Center Overview
We continue to build upon the foundation laid from 1966-1981 by the director of
the original Center for Community Studies, Professor Emeritus Bob
Newbrough, and by the work of Associate Professor Doug Perkins, who revived
the interdisciplinary collaboration in 2004 and served as director until 2008.

Mission Statement:

To conduct research that will enlarge the body of scholarly

knowledge and inform workable social policies and initiatives;

To educate and mentor the next generation of community research

and action scholars;

To work as partners with community agencies and groups that are

trying to meet the everyday challenges affecting people and the
places they live.

Our Mission is Carried Out Through:

Grant-funded and other research, often collaborative and

sometimes involving class and student projects

Colloquia, conferences and other types of informationdissemination and convening activities;

Project collaboration both internally among Center members and

externally with our many community-partner agencies and

Center Structure
Susan Saegert, Professor of Human and Organizational Development, is the Centers
director. Other than providing her professional guidance in all areas of the Centers work,
she contributes her expertise in community organizing and empowerment efforts to local
community organizations. Furthermore, she functions as a convener for faculty, students
and community-partners by identifying how their independent goals can coalesce.
Jill Robinson, doctoral candidate in the Community Research and Action program, is our
assistant director. She provides support on research projects, meeting organization and
community-partner relationships. She is also in charge of the day to day organization of the
Community Matching Program and inquiries from organizations wishing to work with CCS
student or faculty members.

Research Groups
Input from faculty and student members has informed the
restructuring this year of the Center with the goal of developing
and formalizing ways to expand support for both Center
members and community partners. To this end, a system for
initiating research groups and interest groups has been
developed. . Research groups involve a more substantial
investments of time by members and can receive support from
CCS in seeking funds and carrying out programs or projects.
Currently research groups are Community Health;
International Community Studies; Schools, Community and
Youth (SCY); Urban Neighborhoods.

Community and


Center Highlights
The three projects described here each indicate, in their unique way, the talents
and accomplishments of our affiliated faculty and students as well as the capacity
the Center has to convene various entities in order to achieve important goals.
All of these successes were the product of collaborations, which is a key function
of the Center.
Tennessees Small Businesses and Factors Influencing Health Insurance
Craig Anne Heflinger, Mareielle Lovecchio, Jill Robinson, and Lori Smith (Tennessee Health Care
Campaign/Tennessee Small Business Coalition)
The TN Health Care Campaign (THCC)/TN Small Business Coalition (TSBC) was active in
advocating for health care reform over the past few years. In order to support their efforts and
gather data about the issue, they collaborated with CCS affiliated members to distribute a survey to
small businesses across the state. They found that these small businesses were struggling to
provide health care coverage for their employees, mainly because of cost increases. Nine in ten of
the respondents indicated an increase in cost over just one year. The study received wide press
coverage in The Tennessean and other local media outlets. To read the full report, visit the CCS
website. This study energized the coalitions continuing efforts to advocate for health care reform
on behalf of small business owners.
Funding: Consumer Voices for Coverage; The Small Business Majority

Participatory Action Research Event

Our October Participatory Action Research (PAR) consultation brought together national experts on
PAR with representatives from Nashvilles various faith communities to explore how universitybased researchers work with faith-based initiatives which tackle various community problems. To
open the event, Reverend Bill Barnes, pastor emeritus of Edgehill United Methodist Church and
noted community organizer, reflected on some of the history of interfaith cooperation in Nashville.
Several CCS-affiliated faculty members convened groups from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and
interfaith groups to discuss their history, their current activities, and the ways in which they
interact with Vanderbilt faculty and students. We heard presentations concerning faith-based social
service provision, community organizing, and interfaith dialogue. Following these presentations,
there was a roundtable discussion about the role of the academy in faith-based work in community
settings. Representatives from CCS described some of their work and the ways in which they may
be able to work with community organizations. Finally, Michelle Fine, Maria Torre, and Reverend
Donnie Cook from the Institute for Participatory Action Research and Design reflected on some of
the lessons they have learned over the course of numerous PAR-oriented projects and led discussion
on how those lessons might apply to existing potential partnerships between CCS and faith-based
partners in Nashville.
Funding: The Ford Foundation
The following CCS-affiliated faculty/community members convened topical interest groups.

Doug Perkins: Interfaith dialogue and community-building post-9/11 (Scarritt-Bennett Center,

the Interfaith Alliance of Middle Tennessee, and the Islamic Center of Nashville)
Sandra Barnes: Connecting Faith and Praxis for Community Action (Spruce Street Baptist
Terrie Spetalnick and Angela Cowser: TNT and POGO: Community Organizing and Identity
(People of God (POGO) and Tying Nashville Together (TNT))
Becca Stephens and Susan Saegert: Recovery and Community (Magdalene House)

Nashville Shared Equity Initiative

Susan Saegert, Principal Investigator: Emily Thaden and Andrew Greer
This was a big year for the Nashville Shared Equity Initiative and the research team. Andrew Greer
took a leading role in preparing the data for the problem analysis and estimated program impact for
Nashvilles Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 grant proposal. It was submitted by a consortium
of housing agencies including Nashvilles Metropolitan Development and Housing Authority with the
Housing Fund, Woodbine Community Organization, Urban Housing Solutions, and Pinnacle Bank
and won $30.5 million in a very competitive national process. The programs goal is to stabilize
housing markets and community life in neighborhoods with high foreclosure and high vacancy rates.
Below, a map of foreclosures in Davidson County highlights the 17 census tracts that the Nashville
consortium is targeting for housing interventions. In addition to a variety of rental and
homeownership initiatives, the NSP2 plan includes starting up a shared equity sector of at least 100
homes within the next 3 years. Emily Thaden was hired to help develop the shared equity portion of
the project. Andrew Greer was hired to collect and analyze baseline data for an ongoing evaluation of
the NSP2. New PhD students and urban planner, Donald Anthony, has joined him in this work
during the summer 2010.
Nashville-Davidson County

2009 foreclosures
HUD score <17
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14 Miles

HUD risk-scores are based on projected foreclosure and vacancy data, with scores
ranging from 0-20. HUD requires the overall average of census-tract scores to be 18 in
order to provide NSP2 funds.

At the Urban Affairs Association annual conference, the team presented an analysis of data from
focus groups with potential residents of shared equity indicating a high degree of interest in the
scheme, as well as suggesting that low income residents were seeking to achieve many non-economic
values in buying a home that might better be achieved through shared equity than market
homeownership. A second presentation analyzed clusters of foreclosures with different loan and
population characteristics and then described the different types of residents, their different forms of
attachment or alienation from their homes, and policy implications. These presentations are under
revision for publication. In addition, a review is being written of the consequences of homeownership
for low and moderate income residents in light of the foreclosure crisis. Finally, the team is
conducting an ongoing ethnographic study of the development of the shared equity sector in Nashville
and of the NSP2 project. Saegert has also extended earlier research on the foreclosure crisis to an
analysis of how among African Americans, the crisis represents another in a long series of
displacements from homes and extraction of assets. This paper is to appear in a special issue of
Journal of Urban Health on Serial Displacement.

Small Grant Spotlight

In the past, the Center received funding to distribute small grants to our affiliated
members. Unfortunately, because of financial cutbacks, we are not able to continue this
program, but some of the projects still continue. The following pages provide an
overview of three projects funded fully or in-part by CCS small grants.

The Tied Together Parenting Initiative at the Martha OBryan Center

Kimberly Bess, Principal Investigator; Bernadette Doykos*, Laura Vilines, Jessica Thompson, and
Robin Daniels.
The Tied Together parenting initiative began as part of a broader multi-year effort at the Martha
OBryan Center under the leadership of CEO Marsha Edwards to expand the centers work beyond a
traditional service provision model by focusing on the development of new programs and practices
grounded in the goals of prevention, community participation and empowerment, and community
condition change. Launched in 2008, Tied Together has served as the cornerstone of these efforts
and provides the foundation for realizing the following key community-identified priorities: 1) Young
children are ready for school; 2) Children are succeeding in school; Youth are ready to become
productive adults; 4) Children and families are safe; and 5) Children and families are healthy.
The center provides the following description of the programs content and aims:
Our Tied Together parenting initiative gives at-risk parents from the Cayce Homes and
surrounding east Nashville the education, resources, and modeling they need to raise healthy
families. The program, which teaches positive parenting skills and supports good health
outcomes among mothers, works to reduce infant mortality. Tied Together helps parents
learn how to become their children's best teachers through gaining an understanding of child
development. The nine-week curriculum is divided into topics that include Forming a
Community of Learners, Immunizations, Brain Development, Health and Nutrition, and
Safety. Parents receive essential educational, medical, safety, and nutritional items to take
home after each session, to implement best practices learned in class. (emphasis added)
Inspired by the Harlem Childrens Baby College, the philosophy underlying the Tied Together
parenting initiative is one of scaling-up whereby programs are linked and integrated as part of a
multi-level systemic intervention. At the Martha OBryan Center the idea of scaling-up is referred
to as the highway. Practically speaking, the goal is to connect parents who are participating in Tied
Together to other appropriate programs (e.g., GED classes) and services that will strengthen and
support the family.
Funding: Center for Community Studies, Governors Office of Childrens Care Coordination
*Graduate Assistant Bernadette Doykos was with the Harlem Childrens Zone before joining CRA
and working with Bess on the Tied Together Project. She states, One of the projects I worked
closely with was called Baby College, and is the program after which Tied Together is modeled.
Upon entering CRA, I was paired with Kimberly Bess as my advisor who has worked closely with
Tied Together since it's most nascent phases. It's been a phenomenal experience for me to work
even more closely with a programmatic model with which I was already familiar. We work together
with the staff, conducting observations, pre- and posttest surveys and social network maps, and
exit interviews.

Tied Together Program Preliminary Survey Results: Mean Scores

Number of Survey




























Pre-Program: Parent Confidence Scale





Post-Program: Parent Confidence Scale





Pre-Program: Knowledge of Infant

Development Inventory Percent Correct
Post-Program: Knowledge of Infant
Development Inventory Percent Correct
Pre-Program: Neighborhood Sense of
Post-Program: Neighborhood Sense of
Pre-Program: Tied-Together Sense of
Post-Program: Tied-Together Sense of

...I have a lot of friends interested in the

Tied Together program. It was just very full
this time around.but, a lot of people don't
feel connected to the neighborhood, but
they feel very connected in this Tied
Together program, which is a good thing
because we actually want to hear other
people's good stories. I mean the
neighborhood's kind of tragic and we don't
like the neighborhood, but this is our sense
of community. Tied Together is our
community. (Tied Together participant)

Kim Bess and Bernadette Doykos presented on this project this

summer at the International Network for Social Network Analysis (INSNA) Sunbelt Conference in Italy.
Title: Whos in and whos out: The construction of parent social
support networks

Small Grant Spotlight

The Impact of Hope VI Housing Programs on Neighborhoods
Claire Smrekar, Principal Investigator; Lydia Bentley, Ph.D. student
Recent studies sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and
private research groups have examined the neighborhood effects of HOPE VI projects (Holin
et al., 2003; Turbov and Piper, 2005; Zielenbach, 2002). Although the magnitude of positive
neighborhood impact varies across sites, most reports indicate reductions in rates of poverty,
crime and unemployment in and near
HOPE VI neighborhoods. None of these
studies, however, explores the impact of
HOPE VI community revitalization on
nearby neighborhood schools, prompting
an array of important, unanswered
policy questions. This study of
neighborhood change, neighborhood
capacity, and neighborhood effects on
schools is anchored to conceptual models
found in traditional urban sociology.
This sociological approach blends
ecological (Berry and Kasarda, 1977;
Kornhauser, 1978; Park and Burgess,
1916, 1925) and social area analysis
(Shevsky and Bell, 1955) models to
understand how structural conditions
Photos courtesy of Claire Smrekar: Traditional public housing
are associated with social processes that
are bounded by the physical space of neighborhoods. Our attention rests with the social
processes and structures in communities that impact the educational experiences and
opportunities of families and children. This is the first effort to systematically examine the
impact of HOPE VI neighborhood
revitalization on traditional public
schools in such areas as change in
social structures, perceptions of
safety, and social engagement in
schooling. As part of this study, we
also have conducted an analysis of the
effect of HOPE VI revitalization on
neighborhood housing stock, including
values, sales and maintenance.

HOPE VI public housing


Resisting Environmental Injustice: A Multi-site, Process, Outcomes, and Network-based

Evaluation of Participatory Permitting Workshops for Tribal Communities in New Mexico
Courte Voorhees, Principal Investigator
Humans have significantly transformed the Earth, sometimes with destructive effects ranging from local pollution to global catastrophe (Miller, 2000). Since the 1970s, environmental
issues have become more visible in mainstream society but environmental justice (EJ) advocates claim that there are still persistent environmental injustices that have not gotten the
attention afforded more mainstream issues (Taylor, 2000). Tribal lands in the Southwest
are some of the nations leaders
in poverty and diminished access to amenities (Webster &
Bishaw, 2007) while the U.S.
Southwest has been a focal point
for tribal experiences of environmental injustice (Kuletz, 1998)
although recent policy changes
may reshape the future landscape of tribal interactions with
state governments. These
changes have provided an opportunity to reshape environmental
decision making for tribes and
forge beneficial relationships
with the state.
In response to this opportunity,
Voorhees collaborated with representatives from the New Mex- Photo courtesy of Courte Voorhees: Tour of a solid waste site at Isleta Pueblo as
part of the second participatory workshop on environmental justice and permitico Environment Department
(NMED) and the American Indian Law Center (AILC), creating workshops to disseminate policy and technical information to all 22 New Mexico tribes. These workshops, part of a larger participatory action research (PAR) project, train tribal communities to utilize EJ policies, create network connections with state environmental regulators, and encourage tribal workers, leaders, and community members to take an active role in environmental decision making and forging increased community readiness. Using a PAR lens, Voorhees used a mixed-method design including quantitative/qualitative program evaluation, participatory social network analysis,
and qualitative interviews. Partially funded by a Center for Community Studies small
grant, Voorhees helped plan, implement, and evaluate the participatory workshops. Thus
far, analysis of process evaluation data shows promising response to the workshops and potential for tribal community use of information. Voorhees currently collecting final outcomes data and analysis of these data is ongoing. He anticipates completion before August
of 2010.


New Programs
Community Matching Program
The Center for Community Studies (Peabody College, Vanderbilt University) is committed to
bridging academic and community resources. The Community Matching program differs
from traditional student internship programs in that it is more flexible and adaptable to the
changing needs and capacities of community organizations. This year we pilot tested the
project and had 15 organizations request assistance. Of these we succeeded in making
matches with interested students for 5 of these requests. The strong positive response to the
program led us to begin to seek funding to facilitate greater student participation and
continue insure effective faculty supervision. We also have reached out to field research
classes as a way of meeting the demand. For example, a masters and PhD graduate class in
Action Research undertook several of the projects in 2009-2010.
The Housing Fund
CRA student Andrew Greer assisted The Housing Fund (a local CDFI) with an assessment
of down-payment need in Davidson County, with an update of THF's website, and with a
project to study potential market demand and implementation approaches for Shared-Equity
homeownership. For more information on this work on shared equity, see page 7 and/or
contact Andrew Greer (
Magdalene House
CDA students Nicole Garcia, Jenny Gray, Angie Harris, and Jessica Thompson worked with
Magdalene House, a free, non-medical recovery and support residential program, to help
address the issue of affordable housing for graduates of the program. Their research focused
on individual, program, and community barriers to and possible solutions for achieving
independent living. For more information, contact Nicole Garcia (,
Jenny Gray (, Angie Harris (, or
Jessica Thompson (
Metro Public Health Department
CDA students Jessica Thompson and Andy DAlessandro worked with the Ryan White
Planning Council, including matriculating CRA student Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, to
better understand the Council's training needs related to understanding data and data
display. Their work included developing a logic model, creating and administering a survey
to gauge the councils understanding of data concepts, and using the information from the
survey to implement a data training workshop. The workshop included teaching Planning
Council members basic data concepts including commonly used public health terminology
and showed the Council members how to better understand basic data displays. The
workshop will ultimately help Planning Council members be able to make more informed
decisions regarding resource allocation as they will have a better foundation in data
regarding the HIV community in the Nashville Metro Statistical Area. For more
information, contact Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein

Urban Housing Solutions

Teaching and Learning doctoral student, Christopher Keyes, and CDA students Wes Jamison, Amanda Taylor and Courtney Williams worked with Urban Housing Solutions on their
Health Matters program at Mercury Courts, which is a 174apartment low-income residence. Their goals were to determine if emergency calls have decreased since the program
was implemented, and to assess the current health care needs of residents. For more information, contact Chris Keyes (, Wes Jamison
(, Amanda Taylor (,
or Courtney Williams (
Nashville Metropolitan Planning
CDA students Laura Stamm and Emily Stewart helped develop a health impact assessment
to inform the expansion of the Music City Star,
which is Nashvilles commuter rail system. In
their literature review, the student researchers explored how the urban form relates to
rates of obesity. They helped MPO design, implement and analyze an online survey to assess needs. In addition, they conducted site
visits to Nashville neighborhoods scheduled for
transit oriented development and worked with
a design team to integrate their findings into
the design. With MPO officials, they visited
Denver and were tasked to study the citys
transit oriented design innovations.
For more information, contact Laura Stamm
( or
Emily Stewart

Metro Nashville Public Schools

In an expansion of an existing partnership between CCS faculty and several metro schools,
CRA student Adam Voight and CDA student Laura Vilines worked with MNPS and
Alignment Nashville on a youth-violence-prevention project at Jere Baxter Middle
School. The goals of their project were to understand students and student social needs,
evaluate existing social services in the school, and refine the protocol for linking at-risk
students to appropriate service providers. Using data gathered through an annual survey
they demonstrated need for targeted social services and found a positive impact of service
For more information on this project, contact
Adam Voight ( or
Laura Vilines (

New Programs
Community Statistics Relational Database

The Center for Community Studies is working on a database that is structured as an

integrated, longitudinal, multi-dimensional data system for Nashville/Davidson County. It
is useful for applied, scholarly, and public policy endeavors. This relational database was
developed in SQL (structured query language - a computer programming language) using
data drawn from the US Census (1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000) and from Metro planning.

A relational database matches data from different datasets by finding common

characteristics across those datasets so that they can be linked. In other words, the datasets
talk to each other using common variables. For example, we can combine voting, crime,
health and home ownership records at the parcel level (individual property level), which is
the common denominator, to get a better idea of a household and neighborhood context.
This provides a richer understanding of community processes than what is generated by just
one of these datasets. Not all data are available at the parcel level, in those cases, we
aggregate up to larger geographic units. Our existing database is both cross-sectional and
longitudinal and captures data at different geographic scales related to multiple community
variables such as voting, crime rates, health indicators, housing, and so on. At different
geographic scales, we will be able to look at community dynamics and using geographic
information system (GIS), we can look at these dynamics spatially.

This database will give us an unprecedented look at the contextual impact of housing and
other neighborhood features on individual outcomes. It promises large-scale collaborative
studies with scholars and community partners. The relational database team currently
consists of Professors Susan Saegert, Paul Speer, Beth Shinn, and Maury Nation (HOD), and
Claire Smrekar (LPO). The projects research assistants are doctoral students Andrew
Greer, Adam Voight, and Jill Robinson (CRA).


The table below provides an outline of datasets initially sought for the database. This is in
no way exhaustive, and not all data sought will be successfully accessed. The most critical
aspect of this project is data access and access in disaggregated form.



Tax records*

Employment data


Standardized test

Disciplinary actions

Head Start records



Vital records

ER admissions

Social Services

Public assistance

Day care licenses

Mental health

Child abuse

Liquor outlets

Building permits


Crime rates

Commercial data

PRIZM data
Social service





Tax assessments



Toxic waste sites

So far, approximately $65,000 has gone into the development of the database, and we are
currently in a capital campaign to raise funds to further develop the database. Our goal is to
raise $150,000 for this research tool.
We would need additional funding so that 1) we can purchase server space and 2) our
programmer can be paid to finish the last steps of integrating the database and web
However, even in its current stage of development, the database has been a valuable tool.
For example, it was used in the successful application of a $30.5 million Neighborhood
Stabilization Program 2 grant (see page 7).
* An underline indicates we currently have those data.


Center-Sponsored Events

Fall Conference
Our fall conference was held on October 30. Every fall, CCS hosts a one-day conference to
highlight the research and action projects engaged in by our affiliated faculty, students, and
community members. Colleagues from multiple departments across Vanderbilt and
Tennessee State University were invited to present their work in panel sessions. This year,
we added moderators to promote discussion during the sessions. We would like to thank the
following faculty and student moderators: Sandra Barnes, Oluchi Nwosu, Doug Perkins,
Beth Shinn, and Craig Anne Heflinger
The following pages list the session abstracts from our conference:

Housing & Urban Development

Josh Bazuin
HOPE VI and the Right to Housing: Moral Discourse around a Two-tiered Public Housing
HOPE VI represents a retreat from the principle of a right to housing, reestablishing a
meritocratic system where a deserving minority of people are given high quality housing in
exchange for a meeting behavioral norms established by the landlord; people unable or
unwilling to conform with these standards are relegated to substandard, unsafe housing.
Based on interviews with 113 HOPE VI residents in Nashville, Tennessee, Bazuin examined
the moral discourse around a two-tiered public housing system, considering the identity
work resident of HOPE VI developments do to justify the disparity between the redeveloped
units and their run-down counterparts. These justifications were then contrasted with the
views of several theorists and
practitioners who have considered the
place of a right to housing in public
policy and public discourse.
Jim Fraser and Josh Bazuin
The Contours of Mixed-Income Living in
the Music City
One of the cornerstones of developing
mixed-income housing has been to
promote changes in impoverished
neighborhoods through transforming
social relations that constitute it. Fraser
and Bazuin reported on a study
conducted in four HOPE VI
redevelopments in Nashville, Tennessee, Conference photos courtesy of Ting Li Wang (visit
to examine the ways in which people
experience everyday life, and, in turn,
how their homespace provides opportunities and obstacles for working towards an enhanced
quality of life. The authors concluded with theorization on mixed-income living as it relates
to urban redevelopment/city building more broadly.

Ginger Pepper
Jefferson Street Renewal Project
Through the leadership of Jefferson Street United Merchants Partnership, the TN
Department of Transportation, the City of Nashville, Tennessee State University (TSU), and
the Department of Housing and Urban Development, over $2 million will be invested in
Jefferson Street in North Nashville over the next three years. Improvements will hopefully
lay the groundwork for economic and community improvement. In September 2009, TSUs
Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement was awarded a grant from the U.S.
Housing and Urban Development Historically Black Colleges and Universities Program.
Funds will be used to invigorate the historic Jefferson Street corridor, as well as renovate
homes of elderly citizens in North Nashville. TSU will use some of the funds to rehabilitate
the Interstate 40-Jefferson Street underpass to create a safe, accessible, historically-reverent
gathering space, called the Gateway to Heritage. TSU will allocate more than $400,000 of
grant funds to improve fencing, lighting and landscaping of the underpass, as well as create
a mural and painting plan to document through art the history of Jefferson Street. TSU
faculty and students in art, architectural engineering, geography, history and other
disciplines will participate in the project. Currently, business students at TSU are learning
about Jefferson Street and will conduct survey research to determine what residents,
students, faculty, and staff of the nearby universities (TSU, Fisk, and Meharry) like about
Jefferson Street and what they would like to see changed.
Andrew Greer
Differences in Default: Examining Neighborhood Characteristics and Exploring Resident
Connections to Homeownership
Residents of neighborhoods with high foreclosure rates have multiple reasons for
homeownership exit. Purely quantitative studies that examine the relationship between
high-risk lending and mortgage default tend to emphasize individual financial factors and
minimize defaulter psycho-social factors that may highlight homeowner exit rationales.
While recent qualitative work has elucidated the psychological impacts of foreclosure, these
investigations have not focused on how and why defaulters stay or exit their homes and how
neighborhood characteristics impact these trends. This mixed-methods study in Nashville,
TN addresses these gaps. Cluster analyses of census tracts explore whether neighborhoods
with high foreclosure rates have unique characteristics based on foreclosure predictors from
previous studies. North Nashville had above average percentages of high-cost loans,
African Americans, female heads of households, low median incomes, lower education levels,
unemployment, and properties vacant for ninety days or more. Antioch had above average
percentages of highly leveraged loans, foreign born citizens, newer homes, employment, and
higher income. Interviews with defaulters from each neighborhood were presented to expose
psycho-social factors that inform defaulters and further solidify how neighborhood attributes
relate to these factors. Implications for foreclosure prevention and interventions, such as
Shared Equity housing, were discussed.
Mick Nelson
Quantifying Racial Dynamics in Housing: A Tale of One City and Three Studies.
In this presentation Nelson outlined some results from his studies of racial dynamics in the
Nashville housing market. These studies ask the question: To what extent is race a factor in
the desirability of neighborhoods and the location of households? Different theoretical
perspectives on this question were explored with conclusions drawn from the results of
extant literature as well as the preliminary results of his research.

Center-Sponsored Events

Fall Conference
Christon Arthur & Tammy Lipsey
Building Literacy through P-16 Service-Learning Partnerships
Tennessee State University, College of Education and Center for Service Learning and Civic
Engagement have formed a literacy partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools. This
partnership is a model for merging university, community and school resources. The
Literacy Partnership improves academic achievement of P-12 and college students by
providing school-based, university supervised reading clinics. The clinics offer hands-on
experience in the teaching of reading for pre-service teachers as well as valuable one-on-one
tutoring for struggling students in grades K-6. Pre-service teacher learn a five-part research
based method for tutoring struggling readers. Students in the school attend the one-to-one
tutoring session for 30 minutes, twice a week for a minimum of eight weeks. The
partnership began in 2007 and has been in operation for four semesters with successful
results. This semester, three newly established school-based reading clinics are in
operation, McKissack (Pearl Cohn 9th Grade Center, John Early Middle School, and
Charlotte Park Elementary School. This partnership promotes promising practices in
literacy that will significantly raise the level of literacy achievement for all students and
better prepare pre-service teachers for the classroom. The effort has been partially funded
by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Tennessee Board of
Emily Lample
Knowledge-sharing Practices in a Colombian Education Program: A Look at Strength of Ties
in Students Networks of Knowledge-sharing
While a larger community-level impact is often a secondary goal of education programs,
there is limited empirical research regarding the paths along which ideas may travel
between students of a program and other members of the community. The case of the
Preparation for Social Action Program in Colombia highlights the potential for
educational programs both to diffuse ideas into the community and to draw upon local
knowledge for student learning. Granovetters strength of weak ties theory offers a useful
framework by which to understand the different ways that students can engage in
knowledge-sharing with members of the larger community. This study draws from a mixedmethod approach to social network analysis, building from 26 student ego-network
representations, interviews with 19 students and 3 teachers of the program, curriculum
analysis and field observations. It identifies patterns in students knowledge-sharing
practices according to strength of tie along with typologies of student knowledge-sharing
networks to explore implications for the role of knowledge-sharing in enabling education to
contribute to community change.

John Vick
The Louisville Schoolyards Project: Building Spaces for Learning and Community
The Louisville Schoolyards Project is a design and community-building process for two
elementary schools in Metro Louisville. Researchers from the University of Louisville
partnered with the local school system to facilitate a community-based redesign of the
schoolyards at two environmental studies magnate schools to create outdoor learning and
recreation spaces for the school children, as well as establish shared spaces for use by both
the school and the surrounding neighborhood. The research team developed a participatory
framework to engage teachers, parents, neighborhood residents, neighborhood organizations,
and city officials in the process. The purpose of this process was twofold: 1) to gather input
from potential users of the space to inform the schoolyard redesign plan, and 2) to build
community and create a shared sense of ownership centered on the use and maintenance of
the schoolyard space. This presentation focused on the process of engaging the community
in the redesign process, how the
process was influenced by external
factors and funding constraints,
and lessons learned by the
facilitation team.

Gilman Whiting
Up Against the Wall: Young Black
Men and the Scholar Identity
Institute @ Vanderbilt University
Equal and equitable education in America is key to a life full with opportunity and success.
To date, far too many young Black children have been, and are continuing to be, left out of
doors. Annually, in many cities across America, the graduation rate for young Black males
has plummeted below 25%. In 2009, research tells us that even those Black males fortunate
enough to survive to college, and enter with high achievement scores are graduating less
than 25%. In fact, Black male athletes (traditionally not know for high academics) are now
graduating at a higher rate. Why?
This and other questions were answered in this lively presentation. The presenter discussed
a psychosocial model of achievement used for five years at Vanderbilt University.
Participants of this session saw the programs participants in a three-time award winning
video, and discussed how this works directly impacts the work of the Center for Community
Studies mission. The author of the Scholar Identity Model presented the past, present and
future plans for this published work.


Center-Sponsored Events

Fall Conference
Benjamin Siankam
Doctors Beyond Borders: Ecological and Psychopolitical Validity of Medical Migration from
Sub-Saharan Africa
If people admittedly vote with their feet, then migration is a political act, and skilled
migration an even more powerful political statement. Traditional frameworks used to
analyze skilled migration have not devoted much attention to the role of power in relation
to migrants decision to leave, stay, or return. Yet, throughout much of Sub-Saharan Africa
(SSA), many skilled professionals are asserting their power by emigrating overseas. Hence,
a culture of skilled migration is expanding and is now entrenched in several countries.
What is commonly referred to as "brain drain" is a countermovement of human resources
whereby a significant fraction of the most valuable and most essential members of a given
country uproot themselves from the place where their identity is anchored, and settle
abroad to live and work. In many SSA countries, this comes at a very high cost as the
aggrieved community that is left behind oftentimes experiences a significant decrease in its
circumstances as a result of skilled emigration. To reflect the complexity of the problem,
Siankam examined the medical brain drain from SSA using an eco-psychopolitically valid
framework. The framework takes into account three core elements, namely context, power,
and change. It was argued that migrants yearn to breathe free, and skilled migrants are not
merely commodified agents within the global space of flows, but are essentially in pursuit of
liberation and wellness. This may ultimately be attained by way of return migration.
Doug Perkins
Community Participation by Migrants and Long-time Residents in the U.S
Community organizing, participation and migration were put in brief historical and global
context. A comprehensive framework for analyzing and promoting empowerment at
multiple levels was presented. At each level, sociocultural, political, economic, and physical
environmental forms of capital were considered. The framework provides a guide for
transdisciplinary research questions and development. 3 studies of social capital and
community civic participation in urban samples of migrants and longtime residents in the
United States were presented . Studies 1, 2, and 3: Individual and streetblock-level
observational and survey data from New York City, Baltimore, and Salt Lake City predicted
residents' participation in block and neighborhood associations, both cross-sectionally and
longitudinally. Income, home ownership, minority status, and residential stability were
positively, but inconsistently, related to participation. Community-focused social cognitions
(organizational efficacy, civic responsibility, community attachments) and social capital
behaviors (neighboring, volunteer work through churches and other community
organizations) were consistently and positively predictive of participation at both the
individual and block levels. Comparison of long-time residents vs. recent migrants were

Neal Palmer, Doug Perkins, and Xu Qingwen

Community Participation by Migrants and Long-time Residents in China
This paper compared community participation by migrants and a nationally
representative sample in China. In the national sample, they examined sense of
community, neighboring behavior, and social capital and their ability to predict local
political participation. Rural, older and married residents and those with a primary or
high school education and higher perceived socio-economic status were more likely to
participate. For urban residents, knowing ones neighbors is more important whereas in
rural areas, neighboring behavior is more important, but both predict participation. In
the 2nd study, they used survey data from a convenience sample of migrant workers in
seven cities across China to offer predictors of three types of community participation: 1)
amount of contact with community organizations, 2) frequency of help sought from
community organizations, and 3) the rate of more formal participation in Urban
Resident Committee (URC) meetings. Results indicate that education, neighborhood
social interaction, and organizational social capital predict all three types of community
participation. Additional predictors include number of children currently residing in the
household, duration of residence in the current city, trust in community members, place
attachment, and occupational quality of life (for amount of contact with community
organizations); number of children currently residing in the household and neighborhood
social capital (for frequency of help sought from community organizations); and number
of elderly kin living in the household and place attachment (for participation in URC
meetings). Implications for labor and migration policy, community participation, &
democratization in China were discussed.


Center-Sponsored Events

Fall Conference
Justice, Community Organizing, & Spatial Barriers
Laurel Lunn, Neal Palmer, and Sharon Shields
Social Determinants of Obesity in a Rural Southwestern Community: A Collaborative
Recent trends in the New Mexico population show higher levels of obesity than ever before;
such increases are particularly alarming for children. Many communities within or adjacent
to Native American reservations have significant populations spread out over great
distances. This leads to various barriers in accessing high quality, affordable, healthy food,
as well as barriers that hinder participation in physical activity. We used survey, focus
group, and community audit data to explore social determinants related to the prevalence of
pediatric obesity in Caucasian, Hispanic, and Native American children living in the rural
Gallup, NM area. We paid particular attention to the intersection of geography, culture,
perceptions, and behavior. Our results aimed to inform the development of effective
community-based intervention strategies to combat the spread of obesity and early-onset
diabetes. The authors also presented lessons learned from the research project, with a
particular focus on the experiences of undergraduate, master's, and doctoral level students.
Contributors included Veronica Calvin, Sarah Edmiston, Liz Gilbert, Akua Hill, Julie
Phenis, Laura Shade, Teresa Sharp, Nora Testerman, and Courtney Williams.

Courte Voorhees
Resisting Environmental Injustice: A Multi-site Evaluation of Participatory Permitting
Workshops for Tribal Communities in New Mexico
The Four Corners region of the southwestern United States has been relegated to a
wasteland by both government and industry (Kuletz, 1998). Tribal peoples have had little or
no say about mining, waste, and the related dangers and health risks while often carrying
a disproportionately large burden of negative consequences and reaping few benefits
(McLeod, Switkes, & Hayes, 1983). In response to the Clinton administration's
Environmental Justice Executive Order in 1994, New Mexico became the 6th state to enact
a policy based on environmental justice (EJ) principles (Richardson, 2005). In response to
the opportunity created by this executive order, the Environmental Justice Tribal Liaison
for the State of New Mexico and the American Indian Law Center (AILC) at the University
of New Mexico have begun creating participatory workshops to disseminate details about
changes in permitting regulations and encourage use of these regulations to protect
community health and well-being. These workshops will encourage tribal leaders and
environmental employees to take an active role in permitting processes that will affect their
communities. Voorhees provided input and assistance in planning, organizing, and
implementing the workshops as well as conducted an evaluation of the workshops to
improve their impact.

Eric Tesdahl and Paul Speer

Building Organizational Collaborations at a Community Scale: An Examination of
Community Organizing
The classic organizing model developed by Saul Alinksy took place in urban areas with
dense networks of individuals and institutions. Since the Alinsky era, the urban form has
undergone a remarkable transformation that can be characterized, more than anything, by
spatial expansion presenting new challenges for local groups working to build their social
power. An examination of how spatial constraints can be overcome is critical if community
organizing efforts are to operate at the scale necessary to affect the change sufficient to
improve quality of life for community residents in our globalizing world (Orr, 2007). Previous
work in this field suggests that cultivating collaboration across space has become more
complicated undertaking due to processes of deindustrialization and suburban sprawl (Knox
& Agnew, 1998). This study examined organizational participation in two community
organizing efforts in a Midwestern and a Western community. Both organizing efforts are
structured as federations multiple (~10 to 40) local groups collaborating together on issues
of common interest. Specifically, Tesdahl and Speer sought to test whether spatial
proximity significantly predicts collaboration among federation members. Social capital
theory suggests that trust developed through relationship can enhance collaboration (Lin,
2001). This study tested whether development of relationships can counteract the negative
effects of space. They hypothesized that the effects of spatial distance between organizations
will weaken over time as a result of previous collaboration.

Youth & Family

Paul Juarez, Kimberly Bess, Vicente Samaniego, and Brandon Hill
Engaging Youth in Research: The Role of Social Networks as Protective Factors in
Preventing Youth Violence
The aim of this pilot study was to assess the role of social networks of high school students
in preventing youth violence. For the purpose of this study violence prevention was
operationalized as safe places, caring adults/mentors, and job training/work opportunities.
The primary hypothesis addressed by this study was that strong social networks associated
with personal safety, caring adults, and job training/youth employment opportunities are
independently associated with lower risk to youth for interpersonal violence. Data collection
included integration of outcomes of youth surveys and secondary data sets. Study results
allowed us to examine the relationship between risk of violence, other risk and protective
factors, and the strength, density, and spatial proximity of their social networks. Social
network analysis was used to assess the characteristics of their social networks, including
strength, centrality, and density. Results also were geo-coded and pulled into ArcView/GIS
program to provide a spatial depiction of the social networks of youth. Analyses provide a
better understanding of the relationship of social networks of youth for safe places, mentors/
caring adults, and job training/work opportunities and risk for youth violence.
Lindsay Satterwhite, Velma McBride Murry, and Cady Berkel
The Role of Gender in Family Processes: A Decade Review 1999-2009 & Future
This presentation focused on the role gender plays in family processes and the way these
constructs have been studied in the literature from 1999-2009. Specific areas of focus
included caregiving, work/family balance, division of labor, and the changing family
structure. Each of these areas were discussed in terms of the theories, assumptions, and
methodologies used in the literature. Critical perspectives and recommendations for future
research were discussed as well.


Center-Sponsored Events

Fall Conference
Sara Cottrill
Family Connection Pilot Study
Families with a child suffering from a serious emotional or behavioral disorder face unique
challenges. Tennessee Voices for Childrens Family Connection program of peer support
aims to solve some of these problems. This pilot study utilized qualitative interviews of both
family caregivers (FCs) and Family Support Providers (FSPs) to understand some of the key
elements of the program, including services provided, what is most useful, and barriers or
challenges in the program. The value of the FSPs, empowerment, needing more time, and
the challenges working with the Department of Childrens Services were all salient themes
throughout the interviews. The findings of this study give vital information to Tennessee
Voices for Children in regards to possible program improvement and data to help influence
to possible funders. In addition, this pilot study informs researchers preparing for a grant to
implement and evaluate a similar program.
Eli Poe
Pediatric Obesity Community Programs: Barriers & Facilitators toward Sustainability
Our current generation of young people could become the first generation to live shorter
lives than their parents. Families need resources in their community to address this issue.
Identifying barriers and facilitators of community organizations to offer obesity-related
services is a first step in understanding sustainable community programs. The objective of
this study is to identify common barriers and facilitators in community organizational
programs designed to prevent or reduce pediatric obesity. We conducted an exploratory
qualitative research study based on grounded theory. Thirty-six community organizations
were identified based on self-descriptions of goals involving pediatric obesity. Semistructured, systematic, face-to-face interviews among program directors (n=24) were
recorded, transcribed, and coded for recurrent themes. Seventy percent of organizations
indicated that obesity prevention/treatment was their explicit goal with remaining groups
indicating healthy lifestyles as a more general goal. Facilitators to provision of these
programs included: programmatic enhancements such as improved curriculums (73%),
community involvement such as volunteers (62.5%), and partnerships with other programs
(54.2%). Barriers that threatened sustainability included lack of consistent funding (43.8%),
lack of consistent participation from the target population (41.7%) and lack of support staff
(20.8%). New approaches in fostering partnerships between organizations need to be


Kathy Makara
Experience of the Creative Arts with People in Recovery from Mental Illness or Substance
When speaking of recovery in mental illness and substance abuse, it is not a matter of
being cured, but rather an ability to lead a full life. Consumers and service providers of
mental illness and substance abuse programs are interested in both internal and
external factors that lead to recovery. The Creative Arts Program, through the Middle
Tennessee Mental Health and Substance Abuse Coalition. (MTMHSAC) has been
involved with bringing art programs to peer support centers throughout Middle
Tennessee with the hopes of contributing to recovery. In this session data was presented
from 26 interviews conducted with artists throughout Middle Tennessee who are in
recovery from mental illness and/or substance abuse. Through the MTMHSAC, the
participants had the opportunity to take classes, obtain art supplies, and display
artwork . The artists shared their experience about participation in the program and art
making in general. Analysis was conducted on the interviews for emergent themes,
including but not limited to recovery domains. Implications were discussed for the art
program and for further research.

Closing Session: Academic and Community Collaborations

Action research students reported on their collaborative projects with community
partners: The Housing Fund; Metro Nashville Public Schools The Middle School
Project; Magdalene House; Metro Public Health; Nashville Area Metro Planning
Organization; Urban Housing Solutions.


Center-Sponsored Events

Friday, August 28
Bob Newbrough (Professor Emeritus) Newbrough was the director of the original Center, from its inception in
1966 until it ceased operation in 1981.
The Center for Community Studies: Thriving in Context, Past and Present
This colloquium explored the history of the Center for Community Studies, emphasizing parallels and contrasts
between its previous and present context. Beyond a history of research work and structure, the purpose of this
colloquium was to celebrate current successes of the CCS and determine if institutional knowledge from the
past contains relevant lessons for our current context.
Friday, October 2
Michelle Fine and Maria Torre (The Graduate Center of The City University of New York)
Participatory Action Research in Prisons, Schools and Communities
Michelle Fine is a distinguished professor of Social Psychology, Womens Studies and Urban Education at The
Graduate Center of The City University of New York, where she is a founding member of the Participatory
Action Research and Design Collective. Her research has been organized through participatory action research
and focuses on how youth think about and contest injustice in schools, communities and prisons. Among other
awards, Fine received the 2008 Social Justice award from the Cross Cultural Winter Roundtable.
Maria Elena Torre is the director of the Institute for Participatory Action Research and Design at The
Graduate Center of The City University of New York. Committed to participatory approaches that feature
spaces of radical inclusion in communities such as schools and prisons, she is a co-author of Echoes of Brown:
Youth Documenting and Performing the Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education and Changing Minds: The
Impact of College on a Maximum Security Prison.
Friday, October 16
Richard Lloyd (Assistant Professor of Sociology)
East Nashville Skyline: The Great Tomato Toss and the Remaking of a Local Landscape.
This presentation examined familiar intersections of urban ideology and neighborhood change in a less familiar
setting Nashville. Nashvilles unevenly gentrifying East Side was used as a vehicle for critically engaging
prevailing discourses of civic design and urban culture: the New Urbanism and the Creative City.
Focusing on the juxtaposition of a low-density district targeted for redevelopment in East Nashville with the
obdurate presence of neighboring public housing projects, this talk exposed the practical contradictions and
conflicts that accompany the implementation of one-size-fits-all material and cultural models within distinct
and largely uncongenial urban environments. A dramatic encounter between old and new styles of urban
development in East Nashvilles recent history the Great Tomato Toss of 2006 was contextualized within an
analysis of broader political processes and intellectual currents.
Friday, December 4
Damian Williams (Sociology Ph.D. candidate) with discussant Beth Shinn (Professor of Human and
Organizational Development)
The Drama of Contingent Work: Homeless Day Laborers' Negotiation of the Job Queue
Drawing on ethnographic observation in four-day labor agencies located in Nashvilles Lafayette district, this
talk examined how interactions between homeless workers and day-labor dispatchers create an informal
system of workplace control in a seemingly chaotic employment arrangement. Specifically, Damian examined
how homeless day laborers comprehend and negotiate dispatchers allocation of jobs (i.e., the job queue) and
show how this interactive process creates workers loyalty to one particular agency by turning them against one
another. Damian suggested that this divide-and-rule dynamic creates a provisional structure that enables
dispatchers to retain a reliably contingent, transient workforce. This exploitative workplace structure is
reinforced by the spatial mismatch between the Lafayette district and low-skilled jobs located on the urban
periphery, as well as by homeless mens labor market limitations.


Fri, Feb 19
Katharine Donato (Professor of Sociology, Chair) with discussant Doug Perkins (Assistant Professor of Human
and Organizational Development)
Parental Involvement in Schools and Immigration in U.S. Destinations.
Friday, Feb 26
Working Meeting: Center for Community Studies Matching Program
Graduate students reported on their projects with local community partners. This was an informal discussion
about issues and discoveries that have arisen during collaborative work with the community. We invited
graduate students and faculty to attend to offer their feedback and advice for these students.
Friday, March 19
The Schools, Community, and Youth Research Group hosted a colloquium to showcase the research of several
Peabody faculty whose work considers the intersections of education and
community, issues of diversity, and social justice. Drs. Mimi Engel, Stella
Flores, Maury Nation and Claire Smrekar each discussed their current
research with a question and answer session that followed. This colloquium
offered an opportunity to foster a greater degree of interdepartmental
collegiality at Peabody among faculty and students interested in themes of
schools, communities, youth development, and social justice.
Friday, April 2
Cecelia Tichi (William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of English)
Professor Tichi lectured on her book entitled Civic Passions: Seven who
Launched Progressive America. Following her lecture, CCS affiliated
faculty commented on particular activists whose historical work aligns with
their current research and/or action. Our featured discussants were Tony
Brown (Sociology) and Paul Speer (HOD).

Friday, April 16
This colloquium was organized by the Human and Organizational Development (HOD) Minority Student
Committee and sponsored by the HOD and Sociology departments, the Vanderbilt Center for Community
Studies, and the Divinity School.
Colloquium with Juan Battle (Professor of Sociology, Public Health and Urban Education City
University of New York)
Social Justice Sexuality: Insights from a Public Sociologist
An internationally known scholar, Battle is a Fulbright Senior Specialist and was the Fulbright
Distinguished Chair of Gender Studies at the University of Klagenfurt, Austria. His research interests
include race, sexuality and social justice. Battle currently is heading several large research endeavors
examining race and sexuality in the United States, of which the largest is the Social Justice Sexuality
initiative. He is a recent president of the Association of Black Sociologists and is actively involved with
the American Sociological Association. In addition to publishing in many academic journals, Battle's
work has been highlighted in popular national magazines, on radio shows and in newspapers. He was
selected as one of the "Ten Black Men Transforming the World."
Friday, April 30
Michela Lenzi (visiting doctoral student from the University of Padua, Italy)
The Role of Neighborhood Context for the Development of Adolescent Prosocial Behavior in Italy
and Civic Engagement in Five Countries


Active Research Projects

This section highlights the projects engaged in by our affiliated members. This depicts
the diversity of our Center members, their interests and talents.

The Nashville Yard Project

James Fraser and George Hornberger,
Principal Investigators; Kimberly Bess
(Neighborhood Network Analysis)

The research team represents a combination of

social scientists, hydrologists, and an
environmental lawyer. The research will involve
hydrology and soil studies, sociology,
community, environmental, and social
psychology, human geography, and
environmental law and public policy as a
coherent whole and will train students within a
truly interdisciplinary research program. The
project will focus on cultivating research
methods and analysis skills, as well as broad
theoretical knowledge of the questions to be
investigated, among undergraduate and
graduate students in several disciplines across
multiple colleges and schools at Vanderbilt
University. The project will also contribute to
the development of research and
education capacity of the nonprofits and community-based organizations operating in the Richland
Creek watershed area in Nashville
(particularly the Richland Creek
Watershed Alliance and the
Cumberland River Compact), other
Nashville watersheds, and other
urban regions of the United States.
The project aims to assist
environmental activist groups,
homeowners associations, and other
organizations to help homeowners
make more environmentally friendly
lawn care decisions. Additionally,
the data sets and models we produce
will be useful for environmental
policy planning and for managing
urban and suburban watershed
environmental challenges.
Funding: National Science
Images courtesy of Jim Fraser


Exploring the Determinants of Household Environmental Behavior: A Socio-Spatial Analysis of

Lawn Care Practices
James Fraser, Principal Investigator
In this research, James Fraser is examining the spatial distribution and the socioeconomic and
environmental factors that influence residential lawn management behavior in Baltimore. As one of
the key sources of nutrients that are exported into and threaten the biodiversity of the Chesapeake
Bay, residential lawn management has to be understood as a complex activity occurring at the nexus
of biophysical, spatial and socio-economic factors. Research design is multi-faceted and involves inperson household and organizational surveys, telephone interviews, soil sampling, high-resolution
image analysis of residential patterns, and the analysis of census and commercial demographic and
consumption information. These data are assembled into a GIS database, which is used to determine
to what extent household versus neighborhood characteristics predict household environmental
behavior. Interview and survey responses complement the analysis by exploring the mechanisms
through which these predictors operate.
Funding: National Science Foundation

Collaborative Research: Exploring Homeland Security Fusion Centers (2010-2012)

Torin Monahan and Priscilla Regan
Governments are increasingly turning toward public-private partnerships for the provision of
national security. In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has supported
the creation of fusion centers to share data across government agencies as well as across public and
private sectors. This two-year collaborative project will begin to document and critically evaluate the
information sharing practices of fusion centers. Specifically, the research will focus on variations in
data sharing across fusion centers. The research questions are (1) What types of data sharing are
occurring with or enabled by fusion centers? and (2) What factors contribute to the data-sharing
practices of fusion centers? Using qualitative methods, research will be conducted through document
analysis of government and media sources, observational studies at government-sponsored security
conferences, and a minimum of 40 semi-structured interviews with representatives of government
agencies, private companies, and civil society organizations. The merit of this project is its
contribution to an understanding of the implications of new organizational and technological
developments for the provision of national security. This study is theoretically valuable because it
will contribute to scholarship on surveillance and society, the privatization of security, and the
politics of technological systems. In addition to producing refereed articles and conference
presentations, this research will provide an important empirical piece to a larger international
project called The New Transparency, which is facilitating multi-national and cross-cultural
comparisons of the global security industry. The broader impacts of this project include an increased
awareness of the roles, contributions and implications of fusion centers.
Funding: National Science Foundation.


Impact of Housing and Services Intervention on Homeless Families

Beth Shinn, External Principal Investigator (in collaboration with Abt Associates,
Internal Principal Investigator)
This study is designed to understand what types of housing and service interventions for
homeless families work best to promote families residential stability and self sufficiency, adult
and child well-being, and family preservation. Researchers will randomly assign 2,400 homeless
families across 12 cities to four types of housing and service interventions to develop rigorous
answers to the question, What works best for what sorts of families?
Funding: Department of Housing and Urban Development (in collaboration with Abt
Associates, Inc.)
Pending addition:
The Effects of Homeless Interventions on Child Outcomes
Beth Shinn, Principal Investigator, Velma McBride Murry, Lindsay Satterwhite
This study is proposed to add a child component and a qualitative component to the HUD-funded
study just described. We will interview children as well as mothers to understand child outcomes,
and conduct qualitative interviews with a smaller sample of mothers to understand why families do
not always take up housing options that policy makers believe should be attractive, how families
make decisions, often among bad alternatives, about whether children will remain with parents, and
how different interventions affect parenting.
Funding pending: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (in collaboration
with Abt Associates, Inc.)
Fostering Capabilities for Individuals with Serious Mental Illness
Jos Ornelas, Maria Vargas-Moniz, and Beth Shinn
This study in collaboration with researchers from the Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada and
the Associao para o Estudo e Integrao Psicossocial in Lisbon Portugal attempts to understand
and measure how social programs and community-based organizations promote social integration for
individuals who experience mental illness. The work uses the capabilities framework pioneered by
economist Amartya Sen and philosopher Martha Nussbaum to understand peoples freedom to plan
their lives, undertake valued social roles and live life fully, despite disabilities. The research focuses
on features of social settings that enhance or impede these freedoms or capabilities.
Funding: European Union Funds applied for

Effects of Housing Subsidies on Maternal and Child Well-Being

Beth Shinn and Laurel Lunn
This is a reanalysis of old data from as study of homeless families in New York, some of whom
received housing subsidies after leaving shelter. Previous analyses showed that families who
received subsidies were much more likely to attain residential stability. The current analyses ask
whether the beneficial effects of stability extend to other outcomes.

Identifying Families At Risk of Homelessness

Beth Shinn and Andrew Greer
This study examines data from the HomeBase homeless prevention programs in New York City to
determine what characteristics of families applying for prevention services predict entry into shelter.
The goal is to help New York City target its prevention services more effectively.

Contested terrains of rights: the rights based approach to gender and development and social justice
Brooke Ackerly, Principal Investigator
Despite being a seemingly straight forward moral claim,
human rights is a contested concept. In this project, I
work through some of the contested terrain of human
rights arguments, specifically, those associated with the
rights-based approach to gender and development and
to social change philanthropy. I argue that while this
descriptor has been used to apply to a wide range of issue
areas, the real contestation around the meaning of a
rights-based approach to development and social change
philanthropy is not in a debate about the meaning of
Photo courtesy of Brooke Ackerly: The young women
rights. Rather a rights-based approach is assumed to be are garment workers whose employer was denying
them wages because they were children.
the appropriate and most legitimate approach to gender
and development and to social change work.
Consequently, the label is often claimed without the demands of such an approach fully understood.
I conclude by clarifying the demands of a rights-based approach that is consistent with the
womens human rights struggles (and theory of human rights) that led to its legitimacy
Social determinants of obesity in a rural southwestern community.
Teresa Sharp (University of Colorado - Denver), Principle Investigator, Elizabeth Gilbert
(University of Northern Colorado),
Educational Consultant: Sharon Shields
(Vanderbilt University), Neal Palmer and Laurel
Lunn (Vanderbilt University), Project
Other Vanderbilt project members: Sarah
Edmiston, Akua Hill, Julie Phenis, Courtney
Williams (Vanderbilt Master's students);
Veronica Calvin, Laura Shade (Vanderbilt
undergraduate students)
Abstract: Rates of obesity and diabetes in the United
States are alarming, and these conditions
disproportionately affect those already marginalized
Photo courtesy of Laurel Lunn: Gallup, NM
by race, class, geography, and other structural
barriers. We conducted a mixed methods pilot study in a diverse rural southwestern community,
which examined the social determinants of obesity associated with access to healthy foods and
physical activity resources. Research team members conducted built environment assessments of
Gallup, New Mexico, and collected information about the locations and availability of foods and
physical activity resources/facilities. Surveys were used to collect quantitative data regarding diet
and physical activity behaviors and resources; qualitative focus group sessions provided rich
contextual and descriptive information. Together, the data elucidate the barriers that individuals
and families residing in this area face due to its geographic remoteness. Our results aim to inform
community-based intervention strategies developed by a council of community residents.
Funding: Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, Peabody College


Taking Charge of Choice: How Political Contexts Matter

Claire Smrekar, Principal Investigator
This project examines the policy context of charter school adoption and implementation in
Indianapolis. Against the backdrop of increased accountability, autonomy, and competition
associated with mayoral-authorized charters, this study identifies specific implications of this shift in
the urban educational policy landscape, including expanded civic capacity to support urban school
reform and innovation diffusion across Indianapolis area public school systems. This qualitative
project utilizes over 40 in-depth interviews conducted with key stakeholders. Multiple types of
documents were analyzed for descriptive evidence of expanded civic capacity, school innovation, and
charter/non-charter school competitive pressures, including transcripts from legislative hearings, IN
state school reports, charter school accountability reports, and transcripts from school board
Funding: The National Center on School Choice. U.S. Department of Education

Strengthening Community Organizing Processes.

Paul Speer, Principal Investigator
This project is taking extant data from a community organizing project and analyzing the way
organizing staff are expending time across multiple organizations within a coalition or federation
structure. The study documents individual interactions between organizing staff and voluntary
leaders, the type, focus and frequency of organizational meetings/events, and the volunteer
participants attending organizing activities. These data are feedback to the organizing staff as a
form of intervention providing frequent information about where organizational energies are
focused and the impact of those energies as measured by participation rates.

Center for Research on Rural Families and Communities

Velma McBride Murry, Director
The Center for Research on Rural Families & Communities examines the influence of a variety of
factors (e.g., parenting, neighborhood, individual differences, schooling, etc) on the well-being of
families residing in rural communities. Through alliances with other universities, community
officials, child welfare organizations, and parents, CRRFC strives to empower children with the skills
they need in order to engage in positive decisions and start planning for their futures. Current
Projects include: Pathways for African American Success; African American Mental Health Research
Scientist Consortium.


Barriers and Challenges in a Caregiver Support Program

Craig Anne Heflinger and Sara Cottrill
As systems of care become more prevalent for children and adolescents with mental health needs,
there are an increasing number of peer support programs available for their caregivers. Though
these programs have shown some success, further research is warranted in determining how these
programs can best serve families. Specifically, there is a lack of research on such programs, in the
area of barriers and challenges. Cottrills thesis is a qualitative study using interviews with
caregivers and peer supporters in a peer support program for families. The barriers and challenges
to program success and implementation (from the point of view of both caregivers and peer
supporters) are the foci. Barriers and challenges will be coded and categorized at the following
levels: individual (supporter and caregiver), family and friends, school and work, program, and
system (childrens services). Implications of these findings will include a better understanding of
these programs' general functioning as well as specific recommendations for program improvement.
Additionally, there are broader implications surrounding systems of care.

The Role of the Creative Arts in the Lives of Consumers in Recovery

Craig Anne Heflinger and Kathy Makara
Our purpose was to examine the experiences and perceptions of mental health consumers who had
participated in the Middle Tennessee Mental Health and Substance Abuse Coalitions Creative
Arts Project Semi-structured Interviews were conducted throughout Middle Tennessee with 27
people in recovery from mental illness and substance abuse.
Partner: Middle Tennessee Mental Health and Substance Abuse Coalition
Funding: Tennessee Disability Coalition

Fizzys Lunch Lab (PBS)

Sharon Shields, Heather Smith, and Dianne Killebrew; Educational consultants
Fizzys Lunch Lab is a kid-friendly web-based
series educating children, teachers and
parents on the importance of childrens
access to and knowledge of healthy foods.
The educational consultants were responsible
for creating the family and teacher lesson
plans that accompany the interactive
episodes of lunch lab. Lunch Lab was
nominated for an Emmy in New Approaches
to Daytime Childrens Programming.



The Ethics of Human Development and Community

by Paul R. Dokecki
This book is a revision and extension of an earlier book, The Tragi-Comic Professional: Basic
Considerations for Ethical Reflective-Generative Practice (Dokecki, 1996). That book is both a close
relative and a creature of the Human and Organizational Development (HOD) Program at Peabody
College of Vanderbilt University. The book and the program are inheritors of the legacy of Nicholas
Hobbs, the founder of the modern era of psychology and human development at Peabody College. The
present book elaborates the argument for the proposition that, at their best, human development
professionals are reflective-generative practitioners. Such practitioners act ethically and thoughtfully
to develop social environments that promote human development and community. And so, the book
develops the ethics of human development and community, an HOD-related ethical theory for the
professions comprising six major principles caring, veracity, autonomy, beneficence,
nonmaleficence, justice. Within this theory, the premise is that an excellent professional is an ethical

How Are Politico-Religious Narratives Constructed?

by Dylan Swift and Paul R. Dokecki
In this chapter, a component of a three-year field study conducted by Vanderbilts Center for the
Study of Religion and Culture, the authors examine, both theoretically and empirically, peoples
beliefs, values, and emotions or sentiments concerning two fundamental domains of the human
condition, religion and politics. In our research, we have interviewed participants with the goal of
obtaining the stories they use to explain their views regarding religion, political issues, candidates,
and parties. In doing so, we have asked people to explicitly state the values that they believe
undergird their religious and political positions. The research allows for the systematic identification
of moral/religious domains as they emerge within political narratives, thus helping us understand
how various moral domains individually and collectively influence political views.

Study of Religion and Politics in Tennessee Communities

Paul Speer and Douglas Knight, Co-Principal Investigators; Bill Partridge, Dylan Swift,
Diana Jones, John Vick, Obiko Magvanjav, Josh Bazuin and Eric Tesdahl
This ethnographic study addresses the interaction between religion and politics, especially its form
within local communities of the South. The project eschews the specialized research silos wherein
religious and political behaviors are circumscribed into distinct arenas. Instead, we will address their
convergence in contemporary American communities. We posit an intercultural nexus wherein
human communities' religious and political beliefs and practices are increasingly merging, where
local values, beliefs and aspirations derived from contrasting secular and sacred traditions are
negotiated and harmonized. We ask how Americans are learning to construct and transmit to the
next generation a coherent, cohesive world view that accommodates deep-seated contradictions
among their religious and political commitments. We seek to explore how local cultural and religious
forces propel citizens toward certain political decisions and actions and, conversely, how local
cultural and political forces induce certain religious belief and practice. We bridge the social sciences
and humanities to conduct research along both theoretical and empirical lines. In addition to other
topics pursued in this work, the Vanderbilt Project on Religion and Politics will achieve special focus
by examining current social issues, as well as the problem of war.
Funding: Vanderbilt Peabody College, Center for the Study of Religion and Culture, School of Law
and Center for Ethics

Field School in South Africa

Maury Nation and Adam Voight, Project Directors

After students complete Module I, which will include a class and field experience in Nashville, the
core of the field experience in Cape Town, South Africa will be a sustained internship at a community
youth development site. Internships will be arranged primarily with the Extra-Mural Education
Project (EMEP) organization, which works in over 20 locations (primarily schools) in the Cape Town
area. Assignments will be prearranged and students will spend a portion of the module in a
homestay with organizational partners.
Some sites are in the Cape Town metro area
and other are in more rural areas within one
to two hours driving distance from Cape
Town. Each student will have a tentative
action plan prior to beginning their
internship. The specifics will be negotiated
with the organizational partner upon

Photos Courtesy of Adam Voight: Cape

Town Community Centers

Aside from the internship experience,

students will meet with
representatives in local government,
education, community development,
and public health to better
understand the landscape of youth
and community development in Cape
Town and to help in their internship

The objectives of the VISAGE South Africa course are for students to: Understand the ecological
model of development and the value of interdisciplinarity; Analyze a community and its
developmental landscape using an ecological lens; Think critically about historical, social, political,
economic, and cultural forces that impact on human development; Explore the similarities and
differences in issues of development in cross-cultural contexts; Become familiar with the types of
settings in which multifaceted, ecological interventions are conducted; Work with community
partners to plan and execute action steps for improving ecological conditions; and Engage in the
action-reflection cycle of experiential learning and incorporate resultant knowledge into their
individual professional identities
Potential Partnerships: SHAWCO, the Extra Mural Education Project, The Warehouse, Proudly
Manenberg and the South African Community Fund.

Community Engaged Research Core: Clinical Translational Science Award.

Douglas D. Perkins, Velma McBride Murry, Paul Juarez and Russell Rothman

The goal of this program is to develop transformative collaborative structures and strategies that will bring
clinical and translational investigators and research programs together with community partners to shape
and support innovative and community-engaged research. Strategies include health-focused community
building efforts, community health research forums, research consultation services, training studios and
pilot research funding opportunities. For more information on this research initiative, visit
Social Capital, Community Civic Participation and Health and Wellbeing among Both
Representative and Migrant Samples in the People's Republic of China (study series)
Neal Palmer, Douglas D. Perkins and Qingwen Xu (Boston College)
Participation in Urban Resident Committees (URCs) and other community organizations
offers important opportunities for the development of social capital and democracy. In the
first study by Xu, Perkins and Julian Chow (UC-Berkeley), urban and rural political
participation are compared using a nationally representative survey. For urban residents,
just knowing one's neighbors is more important whereas in rural areas, neighboring (helping)
behavior is more important, but both predict participation. Social capital was not found to
predict local political participation among the general population in China.
A second study, led by Palmer, focuses on the massive migrant population in China. Survey
data from a sample of migrant workers in seven cities across China are used to predict three
types of community participation: (1) contact with community organizations; (2) frequency of
help sought from community organizations; and (3) the rate of more formal participation in
URC meetings. Results indicate that education, neighborhood social interaction and
organizational social capital predict all three types of community participation. Additional
predictors of community organization contact include number of children in the household,
length of residence, trust in community members, place attachment and occupational quality
of life. Predictors of help-seeking also include number of children and neighborhood social
capital. Predictors of participation in URC meetings also include number of elderly kin living
in the household and place attachment. In a related project, the team is exploring influences
on the health and wellbeing of migrants and their families in China.
Community and Applied Developmental Psychology in Italy
Douglas D. Perkins, Massimo Santinello, Alessio Vieno, Lorenza Dallago, Francesca
Cristini, Michela Lenzi
Based on a series of visiting scholar and Ph.D. candidate exchanges, both at the CCS and at
the University of Padua, Italy, a group of CCS faculty has collaborated and published extensively
with an Italian team of applied developmental and community psychologists. Based on various
Italian and WHO datasets, studies have included: civic participation and the development of
adolescent behavior problems; a multilevel analysis of democratic school climate and sense of
community; social support, sense of community in school and self efficacy as resources during early
adolescence; bullying in school and adolescent sense of empowerment--an analysis of relationships
with parents, friends and teachers; adolescent place attachment, social capital and perceived safety-a comparison of 13 countries; the Adolescents, Life Context & School Project--youth voice and civic
participation; and a special edited volume on community psychology in Italy.
Funding: Universit degli Studi di Padova, Italy, University of Lecce, Italy
Partners: Universit degli Studi di Padova, World Health Organization Health Behavior of
School-aged Children Collaborative

NUPACE Research Collaboration

Nashville Urban Partnership Academic Center of Excellence (NUPACE)
Paul Juarez, Principal Investigator; Maury Nation, Doug Perkins, Rev. Neely Williams
and Vicente Samaniego
The mission of NUPACE is an academic/community partnership that integrates prevention science
with community action to reduce youth violence. It advises and consults with public agencies,
community representatives and youth to incorporate scientific methods and evidence-based practice
knowledge into youth violence prevention surveillance, programming, organization, research and
evaluation methods. NUPACE uses a strengths-based primary prevention and developmentalecological model that examines youth violence within the context of family, peers, schools and
community. It employs a community-based participatory research (CBPR) model that promotes and
supports inter-disciplinary collaboration among academic and community partners in carrying out
planning, research and evaluation, communication and dissemination activities on effective youth
violence prevention interventions, outcomes and best practices.
NUPACE: Metro Nashville Middle School Bullying Prevention Experiment
Maury Nation, Principal Investigator, Adam Voight, Leslie Collins, and Joanna Geller
This five-year, quasi-experimental action-study to improve middle school climates to reduce bullying
and violence is a centerpiece of the NUPACE grant. The primary aim of this project is to implement
and evaluate two bullying prevention programs that take different, but complementary, approaches
to changing school climate in public middle schools. Previous research has associated bullying with
the development of more serious forms of violence, including suicides and school shootings, and a
host of other risky behaviors, including juvenile delinquency. Both theory and research suggest a
sustained decrease in the prevalence of bullying is most likely to occur when there are changes in
the school climate. Central to the program is an enhancement of student services developed by
Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools through Alignment Nashville. The Alignment Enhanced
Services (AES) intervention is based in part on a comprehensive approach to student well-being
called Student Assistance Programs (SAP). SAP is a systemic process that mobilizes school resources
to remove barriers to learning. The core of the program is a professionally trained coordinator who
serves as a liaison to community agencies to address violence and behavior problems of students.
Funding: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Partners: Metro Public Schools, Alignment Nashville, Oasis Center, the Center
for Youth Issues (STARS), Martha OBryan Family Resource Center
NUPACE: Monitoring Change in the Network of Organizations Addressing Youth Violence
Doug Perkins, Principal Investigator; Kimberly Bess, Paul Speer, Adam Voight, Eric
Tesdahl, Dan Cooper, Kathleen Makara, Jessica Thompson, Dan Wallace, Katie Klein,
Kate Foster
This is a five-year study that monitors and analyzes changes in the network of nonprofit
organizations and public agencies addressing youth violence in Nashville. Leaders of all the major
organizations on this issue have been interviewed. Analyses focus on: (1) organizational
relationships at the city level; (2) the external networks of each of 12 middle schools participating in
a bullying and violence prevention experiment; and (3) change in the approaches and resources each
organization devotes to youth violence prevention and in the approaches taken, with particular
attention to ones that are strengths-based, primary preventive, empowering, and focused on
changing root causes of violence in the community.
Funding: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Partners: Meharry Medical College, Nashville Urban Partnership Academic Center of Excellence,
Nashville Community Coalition for Youth Safety

Keyhole Garden Demonstration

Patricia Conway and Jill Robinson

CRA students Patricia and Jill designed and constructed a keyhole demonstration garden in East
Nashville. The keyhole garden design has been used in Lesotho (Africa) to help families secure
access to fresh produce year-round. Created by the non-profit organization Send a Cow, the
keyhole garden design is ingenious in its simplicity. The name comes from the gardens shape, a
circular structure with an opening
shaped like a key hole. Built
from layers of stone, up to 4 feet
high, with earth in the center, the
design allows food to be grown
above ground, overcoming the
problem of poor soil conditions in
many African contexts. A fuel cell
is built into the garden, a basket to
place food scraps, provides
compost to enrich the soil. As a
raised garden, seedlings are
planted, watered, tended and
harvested while standing; there is
no bending, reducing the labor
needed to grow food, particularly
important for children and the elderly, who are often responsible for family food production. The
circular design means food can be grown in every inch of the garden, enabling people to grow a lot of
food in a small space. The stone retains heat, protecting the soil inside from frost, extending the
growing season. Jill and Patricia wanted to test the design out in an urban setting, to see if it could
help city gardeners grow. This spring, Holland House Bar and Refuge agreed to sponsor and host the
garden, with additional sponsorship from Gardens of Babylon and Maxwell Heights neighbors. Our
design was modified to fit the needs and aesthetics of the restaurant, we built a lower wider
structure to complement their landscaping, and left out the fuel cell to avoid composting odor. Our
hosts are delighted with the end results; the garden has beautified the restaurant patio and will
provide the chefs with a bounty
of heirloom tomatoes and
To find out more about keyhole
gardens in Lesotho, visit http:// To
see a keyhole garden, visit the
Holland House Bar and Refuge
in East Nashville!

Photos courtesy of Patricia Conway


Post-Genocide Recovery in Rwanda

Josh Bazuin, Principal Investigator
Bazuin is continuing work on his dissertation examining how religion and spirituality have affected post-genocide recovery in
Rwanda. Over the summer of 2010, he
will interview 60 people about how their
beliefs, behaviors, affiliations, and relationships related to religion may have provided resources or obstacles towards coping and reconciliation. He will also perform additional interviews with leaders of
religious institutions and faith-based organizations to understand how those organizations have changed since the genocide as well as how they are contributing to the transformation of Rwanda. A previous round of
data collection in 2008 was supported by a
Center for Community Studies small grant.

The Children of Moldovan Orphanages

Jill Robinson, Principal Investigator
Rolling Hills Community Church in Brentwood, Tennessee, has been working with
Moldovan orphanages for the past five years.
In response to the needs of children graduating from orphanages, and especially their
vulnerability to human trafficking, the
church is founding a non-profit organization
to assist children with transitional living
needs. Although church staff has collected
some data to gauge the perspectives and
needs of children, Robinson designed a research project which helped them with more
systematic data collection. The pilot study
was conducted over a two week period in the
summer of 2008 in and around Chisinau,
Moldova. Once analyzed, this data is intended to help the church better make decisions about addressing the needs of the children they are serving. The project involved
two different data collection methods: questionnaire distribution (85 questionnaires collected); and stick-figure art activity (28 drawings collected).

This is my future. Even though I have a lot of happy

days in the past, I wanted to write about my future. 1) I
like to help people and sort out their problems. I want to
be a psychologist. This is the department of psychology
and I'm working to obtain my goal. 2) After I graduate,
this is my office and the people who I am trying to help.
I'm very happy here now. 3) I am very happy here too because now I am able to take care of my family and other
people too (in this scene, her future family (husband and
two children) is on the left and the center where she will
work is on the right).
--Andrea, Age 15

Were on the Web!

The Center for Community Studies would like to thank

our university and community colleagues for helping us
make our Center a success!
For more information about CCS, please contact
Jill Robinson at