Community-Based Research (CBR) is a contribution of faculty and student resources of the college to community agencies and organizations. CBR is knowledge created through research with and for the community to address a need or answer a question that is generated by the community. CBR Projects are undertaken in academic courses, or through independent studies. CBR Projects are completed with reports to the community.
The Levitt Center has begun an exciting new collaboration with Cornell University, The City of Utica, and the Utica Rust to Green initiative. A team of researchers from Cornell University selected Utica to be a test city in their study of ways to move rust belt cities toward a more sustainable future. Kevin Alexander '13 has been selected as the first Levitt Center funded Rust to Green Civic Research Fellow. He will be working this summer with a research team from both the Levitt Center and Cornell University. The Levitt Center team, headed by Professor George Hobor, will be mapping and surveying Utica area non-profit organizations in an attempt to better understand the networks and dynamics that animate this important part of the Utica community. In addition, they will be assisting the Cornell University team in a survey of Utica residents.
Students in GOVT 342 Seminar in Program Evaluation completed an evaluation of the Family Treatment Court in Spring 2009, with a poster session as a final project. Students used a variety of research methods, including developing a program theory, participant observation, content analysis, survey research, and a case study to document progress of FTC participants. A copy of the set of posters was presented to the Family Treatment Court.
The Seminar in Program Evaluation (GOVT 342) is taught each spring by the Associate Director for Community Research as an Instructor in the Government Department. Students are usually Juniors and Seniors, and though many are Public Policy majors, students take the course for a variety of reasons and from disciplines across the curriculum. P rogram evaluation is applied social research at the community level and acquaints students with a range of methodologies used to evaluate programs in varied settings. Students use field work to complete evaluations of specific programs. They often work in groups, and final reports are edited by Professor Owens-Manley for one final comprehensive report to the com munity.
The HOPE VI Project was a federally-funded grant, made locally to the Utica Municipal Housing Authority for 11.2 million dollars in 2003. MHA created a partnership with the Levitt Center to provide a program evaluation for the five years of the grant. The Program Evaluation course worked each spring for five years on an aspect of the evaluation, and a sub-grant for the evaluation made research internships possible for five summers. Alexis Mann, a double major in Public Policy and Art worked one summer to document the residents of the demolished housing project that displaced residents, many of whom had lived at Washington Courts since it was built in 1945.
Alexis' photos can be viewed online with more history of Washington Courts and the HOPE VI Project at www.hamilton.edu/cache. Evaluation reports completed for each year of the project can also be viewed online.
Program evaluations completed in prior years:
Hope VI Evaluation -Year 1, 2004
Hope VI Evaluation -Year 2, 2005
Hope VI Evaluation -Year 3, 2006
Hope VI Evaluation - Year 4, 2007
Hope VI Evaluation - Year 5, 2008
The Levitt Center began a Policy Options Project in 2008 with a subgrant under the CBR Ne tworking Initiatiative funded by a Learn and Serve grant and administered by Princeton University. P olicyOptions issue briefs seek to answer four fundamental questions related to a public policy issue: 1) What is the nature & extent of the problem? 2) What's been tried in the past to address it? 3) What's being done now? and 4) What are the distinctly different approaches to addressing this issue?
The first academic course to incorporate the issue briefs also included interviews with the heads of agencies and departments that are responsible for the resettlement of agencies. Govt 202: Immigrants and Refugees in the U.S. resulted in a website and contributions to a policyoptions wiki.
The Levitt Center continued a Status of Women Project with the Women's Fund of Herkimer & Oneida Counties through Professor Margaret Gentry's Women's Studies course on Women & Aging. Students in spring 2007 and 2008 interviewed older women caregivers who provided care for someone in their home. A report of the results of their work is available at http://www.hamilton.edu/CACHE/FinalCaregiving3Column3-2009.PDF.
The report was compiled from the student's work by Judy Owens-Manley, Associate Director for Community Research in the Levitt Center and edited by Owens-Manley and Aileen Townsend, Women's Fund. Kari Arenson provided a literature review through her work in the Levitt Center in 2007. Community partners identified the women to be interviewed and participated in making the study possible: Oneida County Office for the Aging and Continuing Care, Acacia Home Care, and Ava Dorfman Senior Center. Earlier reports of the Status of Women Project can be found at http://www.hamilton.edu/CACHE/womensfund.pdf.
CS 104 Stud ents in Fall '08 and Spring '09 participated in a project in several community schools. Professor Mark Bailey taught the course, which serves as an introduction to digital threats, computer security technology, and strategies for combating digital threats. Students investigated the nature of digital threats, the limits of technology, and roles humans must play in protecting and securing digital creations. Judy Owens-Manley supported the project in the Levitt Center through making arrangements with the community schools, including Clinton, Westmoreland, Sauquoit, and Utica's Proctor High School. Hamilton students developed a 45-60 minute tutorial on an aspect of computer security such as recognizing e-mail scams, controlling privacy on the Internet, or the risks and benefits of using social networking sites like Facebook and took it in small groups twice to area schools – first to meet the 9th and 10th graders that they would be presenting to and to administer a pre-survey. On the second visit, Hamilton students presented short workshop for the students, and a post-survey was administered about two weeks after their presentation. The survey is used to gauge how well the service learning project increases student awareness of digital threats.
The Associate Director for Community Research led a large community-b ased project to profile Oneida County on the risk and protective facto rs associated with the Communities That Care model beginning in 2002. Oneida County Executive Ralph Eannace and The Funder's Council convened a group of more than 100 individuals in 2003 representing public and private businesses and organizations. Reports of the commu nity's profile are found here for Oneida County with an additional report on the neighborhood of Cornhill.
Mary Bret Lineberry '11 proposed to study microfinance as an emerging method of poverty alleviation in the United States. As a member of the Hamilton College Microfinance Group, she had helped give some minor loans to local business people and wanted to research the greater potential of microfinance in New York State, specifically the greater Utica area. Developed countries face different poverty challenges than underdeveloped countries, but many developed European countries have adapted Microfinance techniques of the Grameen Bank (the first Microfinance Bank, created in Bangladesh by Muhammad Yunus). The overall purpose of the study wass to increase her understanding of the history of Microfinance, its recent emergence in the United States and develop a model to potentially apply in the Utica NY area. A secondary goal was to increase the opportunities of the Hamilton College Microfinance in the community for future years; she continued to meet with the club on a regular basis throughout the semester to keep them involved with the study.
Visit the Microfinance Club's blog: