Wichita State University (Hugo Wall)

Contact Information

1845 Fairmount
Campus Box 007
Wichita, KS 67260 - 9700
(316) 978-6521
FY 2015 National Service and Civic Engagement Research

Executive Summary

Globalization, growing fiscal pressure, and political division has diminished the capacity of communities in the US, placing societal wellbeing and democracy at-risk. Our research shows that the long-term wellbeing of the US depends on actions that promote convergence between democracy and the public interest and that strengthen the civil infrastructure. Our research gives definition to the construct of the public interest that guides the formation of inter-sector collaborative networks that employ a systems approach to responding to the challenges of community. The proposed networks strengthen the civic infrastructure by engaging citizens as assets and channeling their contributions through public, community-based and neighborhood-based organizations. The proposed model defines the community as a dynamic system that develops collaborative networks to respond to challenges. Collaborative networks define the components of problems and assigns responsibility for tackling these concerns in ways that optimize the use of resources based on balanced concern for community and organization.

Research by Hugo Wall School of Public Affairs (HWS) at Wichita State University will focus on two main areas: development of civic infrastructure and enhanced civic engagement. HWS will address the CNCS' strategic focus area of capacity building through design, implementation and evaluation of collaborative networks. Collaborative networks strengthen the civic infrastructure as nodes (organizations) build interagency trust and as citizens develop trust of each other and the collaborating agency based on actions that demonstrate consistency with public interest. Thus, citizens and collaborating agencies learn how to balance the wellbeing of individuals and the community, current and future generations, and advantaged and disadvantaged populations. HWS proposes a pilot study of Wichita, Kansas. The findings of the pilot study will be used to refine the model. Generalizability will then be tested by selecting, implementing, and evaluating the model in two more communities.

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