Blog Archives

Neighborhoods Matter: The Role of Universities in the School Reform Neighborhood Development Movement

Where you find distressed neighborhoods, you will also find poorly performing public schools. Yet many contemporary school reform efforts ignore neighborhood-level factors that undeniably impact school performance. The purpose of this study is to use a case study approach with social institutional and urban school reform regime frameworks to demonstrate why school reform and the re-creation and redevelopment of distressed neighborhoods should occur simultaneously. At the same time, researchers will examine the role of higher education in catalyzing partnerships with so-called anchor institutions for the explicit purposes of simultaneously improving neighborhoods and reforming schools. By focusing on a federal Choice neighborhood initiative, the study will not only make the case for connecting school reform and neighborhood development but also present a model that demonstrates how this can happen. The study will also make a strong case for the university’s unique role in fostering neo-collaborative structures fit to take on wicked problems of neighborhood distress and urban decline.

The role of citizen participation and action research principles in Main Street revitalization: An analysis of a local planning project

This article examines the use of citizen participation techniques during the planning process for neighborhood revitalization in the Village of Depew which is an industrial suburb of Buffalo, New York. The article focuses on how action research principles can inform and enhance traditional approaches to citizen participation. In particular, we discuss our role as university-based consultants in the local planning process and how drawing from action research principles helped us remain focused on advocating for broad-based citizen participation. Our analysis was based on the application of action research principles and participant observation techniques. During the time that each of us was involved in the planning process for Depew’s neighborhood revitalization, reflexive field notes and other data were collected. The article critiques how citizen participation was used to plan for neighborhood revitalization in Depew, and discusses the degree to which action research principles can be applied to future citizen participation efforts.