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News & Info

Sense of Community Website Launch

Community Science is pleased to announce the launch of the newly revamped SenseofCommunity.com website-an online, international meeting place for people interested in the study or application of sense of community! Our goal is to bring together the myriad of international scholars and practitioners to advance the work on sense of community that has been gaining interest and development over the past 50 years. Please sign up to join this online community, share your ideas and resources, contribute to the advancement of the measurement and application of sense of community, and promote human development and social justice. This site is an opportunity to share your ideas, work, and questions. Senseofcommunity.com has a Discussion Forum to ask questions, assist others, and find opportunities to collaborate. On this website, you will also find a Documents Library to post files, documents of your work, or learn about the work of others. For a rundown of the site’s features, click on the How to Use tab.

Users will also find this site as a gateway to the Sense of Community Index (SCI) and the Sense of Community Index-2 (SCI-2).

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The Tragedy of Professionalizing Social Change: We Are the System We Seek to Change

By: David Chavis, PhD, President/CEO

There is little doubt that this country and this world are seeing monumental challenges that we have not seen in decades, if ever. Racism and other forms of hate have become legitimized in many more places than we have seen in a while. There is a rise of authoritarian rule, “bullyism,” and violence against women and minorities. In this country, the basic social contract of a caring state and a common community (e pluribus unum - or “out of many, one”) is being threatened on nearly an hourly basis. The good news is that there has been a large-scale outcry from all corners of our society over many of the abuses and abusiveness. People are organizing across race and class to try to turn these trends around, and to promote equality and inclusion in this great country. For me, it raises the challenge of what do I do as a citizen as well as a professional. I go to conferences that focus on eliminating poverty, fighting racism, transforming society, empowering marginalized groups, conducting equitable or empowering evaluations, etc. But I also see movements like Black Lives Matter, Dreamers, and MoveOn, as well as community organizing groups like the PICO National Network. They are getting attention; they are making a difference.

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The Revolution Will Not Be Evaluated

An ode to Gil Scot-Heron, Michael Scriven, and the future of evaluation

By: Rodney Hopson

Professor & Associate Dean for Research
College of Education and Human Development
George Mason University1

"You will not be able to avoid the usefulness and ubiquity of evaluation,
You will not be able to mislabel, misappropriate, misconceive, misapply, or misuse
evaluation, limiting it to the settings of programs, policies, and personnel
You will not be able to refer to the usual distinctions between research and
evaluation, draw simple conclusions at the end of a program evaluation, or avoid
instances of bias and conflicts of interests, as if our only concern in the discipline
rests on value judgments or our only claim to fame is to inform decision-making
Because the revolution will not be evaluated."

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Algorithms for Equitable Social Impact

Community Science is investing in strategies that leverage the tools of big data science and predictive analytics to improve health and human service systems, programs, and policies. This work is fundamental to what we are all about. We use “state-of-the-art qualitative and quantitative methods . . . to strengthen the science and practice of community change.” Another core part of our mission is to use our research and evaluation expertise “to build healthy, just, and equitable communities.” So, here’s the interesting rub: When it comes to using big data science and predictive analytics to promote positive community change, we are at the same time very aware of the warnings, admonitions, and proof that predictive analytics can also perpetuate and reinforce institutionalized inequities.

Our work has already led to some very clear guiding principles as we endeavor to bring the big data science tools of predictive and prescriptive analytics together with the social science methods of research and evaluation. There is an excellent book that everyone should read—Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, written by Cathy O’Neil.

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Publications



Recent Publications:

Emerging Action Principles for Designing and Planning Community Change (March 2015)

Community Matters! Decades of scientific research have shown that being part of a supportive, inclusive and capable community promotes mental, physical, and social well-being more than any other factors known to the social and medical sciences. Our publication series, Community Matters: Action Principles, Frameworks, and Strategies, shares what science and practice have taught us about building and strengthening community. The first publication in this series, “Emerging Principles for Designing and Implementing Community Change,” has just been released.

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Local Voices: On-the-Ground Perspectives on Driving Community Change in the Making Connections Sites (July 2014)

This report describes, from the perspective of local stakeholders, the experience of several sites involved in Making Connections — the Foundation’s signature community change initiative of the 2000s — in developing and enhancing the core capacities essential for articulating and pursuing a local community change agenda. The report describes the conditions in the communities when Making Connections began; the core capacities built during the decade-long initiative; the factors that contributed to capacity building; the evidence of improved outcomes for children, families and neighborhoods resulting from the enhanced change capacities; the continuing challenges of sustaining those capacities; and key takeaways from the experience.  

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Addressing Health Disparities Through Organizational Change-Evaluation Report (April 2012)

In 2006, The Colorado Trust funded 14 organizations to improve their cultural competency in order to strengthen their capacity to reduce health disparities.  Community Science was engaged to evaluate the initiative, specifically assessing: 1) changes in cultural competency among grantees, 2) the influence of cultural competency changes on grantee interventions and short -term outcomes, 3) factors and conditions needed to bring about positive changes in organizational cultural competency, and 4) grantee progress and accomplishments over time.  

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The Importance of Culture in Evaluation

The Importance of Culture in Evaluation, a publication funded by The Colorado Trust, provides insights to help guide the complex dynamics between evaluators, funders and stakeholders of different cultures. The report provides examples of where cross-cultural competency is critical in evaluation and recommends questions and strategies that an evaluator should consider when practicing this form of cultural competency. 

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