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Fall 2016 Awards

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Small Grants Awarded Fall 2016


The “Sustainable Communities Project”: Exploring Foundations for DSOC-CaRDI Applied Research Collaborations (David Kay and Robin Blakely-Armitage)

One of CaRDI’s strength as a campus-wide Institute lies in its ability to integrate extension, research and teaching in addressing emerging challenges and opportunities. Its approach to working in the “sustainable communities” arena has taken many shapes, utilizing engaged frameworks such as the Rust2Green (R2G) Program. These frameworks are an opportunity to bring a concentrated, multidisciplinary, place-based systems approach to real-world challenges. They also provide a platform for tenure-track faculty to immerse themselves in an applied research agenda and project. The project as proposed explores possible connections and synergies in the “sustainable communities” arena, both domestically and internationally, between CARDI and DSOC faculty and academic staff, setting a foundation for applied, community-based research around key themes of development. Emergent collaborations around climate-based migration and local and regional food systems have set the stage for further integrative work. Information gathering activities will help inform the department’s discussion of its future relationship to the topic of “sustainable community development,” initially proposed to include a mixture of interviews and focus groups. Key conceptual questions to address will include: What are the central theoretical traditions that should inform our work?  What other disciplinary perspectives are most important to engage? Is the distinction between “domestic” and “international” intellectually, as well as pragmatically, supportable when considering the subject of “sustainable communities”? Along with interviews and focus groups, activities will include a spring roundtable lunch and substantive contributions to a fall Community Development Institute focused on university-community applied research and engagement partnerships to support sustainable communities.



Food, Agroecology, Justice and Well-Being Symposium (Rachel Bezner Kerr)

The Food, Agroecology, Justice, and Wellbeing collective is a research group consisting of graduate students, faculty and post-doctoral students from across the university. Our overarching interests are on the intersections and connections between the broad themes of agroecology, food sovereignty/food justice and health/nutrition/well-being. We began in 2014 with support from the Polson Institute, and have met numerous times to share work in progress, to host speakers and to discuss recent relevant papers on these themes. The membership of the group has morphed and changed over the last 2 years, and we currently consist of approximately 15 members, including Nutrition, Development Sociology, Agricultural Economics, Crop and Soil Sciences and Ecology. In April 2017 we will organize a 3-day symposium which will bring together up to 20 external participants (5 international, 15 domestic) with 30 interested Cornell researchers—including junior and senior faculty, postdocs, and graduate students.  We will explore transformative methodologies for linking agroecological practice, food justice, food sovereignty and improved health and well-being, through presentations, discussions and collective writing. The symposium will also examine contradictions, challenges and connectivities between these different themes. An integral part of the symposium is an Ithaca-area field trip to learn from practitioners in the field who use agroecological practices, and participate in social movements around food sovereignty/food justice discussed at the symposium. The final outcomes from the symposium are envisioned to be multiple: publications for a special issue of a journal, policy recommendations and possibly the development of a future collaborative research proposal.



The Risk of American Poverty: Developing and Evaluating a Web Based Poverty Calculator (Tom Hirschl)

This research seeks to further develop and evaluate a poverty risk calculator that the authors have constructed in prior research.  The project will involve analyzing sample data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) in order to build a series of life tables estimating the adulthood probability of using a social welfare program, experiencing a spell of unemployment, and encountering a composite measure of economic insecurity.  In addition, we propose to assess whether exposure to the risk calculator changes attitudes towards poverty and inequality. To measure response to the risk calculator we implement a test/retest design in college and high school classrooms where students are surveyed using items from a set of previously researched questions about attitudes toward poverty and inequality.  Students are randomly assigned to treatment versus control groups, and the results will be analyzed to determine the type and degree of change, if any. Depending upon the results, changes to content of the poverty calculator will be implemented. Second, the research results, if promising as expected, will be incorporated into a research proposal to the National Science Foundation.

Please also visit our Current Research Working Groups page for information about other grants awarded.