Call it CSI for short

A new initiative will help match university knowledge with community needs

Under the umbrella of what is being called the Civic Scholarship Initiative, the university is applying its brain power by providing research and analysis on topics of interest to the community and the region. The CSI, headed by Professor of Economics Bruce Mann, offers real-world laboratories for faculty and students to pursue their research and teaching objectives, while partnering with regional organizations to solve problems, develop policy, and educate the public on issues of regional and national significance. A number of programs are under development. Among them:

Nearshore Habitat Restoration in Puget Sound
Professor Joel Elliott, Department of Biology

Eelgrass beds are important components of marine ecosystems and they provide critical habitat for juvenile salmon and other marine organisms, but eelgrass in Puget Sound has declined over time because of human activity. Professor Elliott is working with government agencies, community groups, and environmental organizations to develop protocols for restoring eelgrass to the shoreline of Commencement Bay, an area that has been impacted by past industrial activity. A pilot project is planned for one site on Commencement Bay where the sediments will be restored and eelgrass planted. The project will provide insights into successfully dealing with this newly discovered environmental problem and should lead to restoration techniques that can be adopted at other sites in Puget Sound where the nearshore habitat is degraded.

The Road Home: Homeless Policy for Pierce County
Professor Richard Anderson-Connolly, Department of Comparative Sociology, and Professor Renee Houston, Department of Communication Studies

Working with the Pierce County Office of Community Services, the university is providing research that will help in developing a long-range plan to reduce the homeless population in Pierce County. With a group of student research assistants, Professor Anderson-Connolly will compile an assessment of prior programs and projects that have been used to address homelessness, determine what has worked and what has not been effective, and then offer recommendations for addressing the issue in the local area. Professor Houston’s research will identify groups and agencies that deal with the homeless population and develop a plan to integrate their efforts. An important part of her research will be conducting interviews, coordinating focus group meetings, and verifying program linkage. Student research assistants will provide background and data analysis.

Educational Achievement and Assessment
Professor Dexter Gordon, Department of Communication Studies and director of African-American Studies, and Professor Christine Kline, dean of the School of Education

The university has joined with Tacoma’s Black Collective, local school districts, and the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to explore ways to raise student outcomes in areas demonstrating underachievement. The project is exploring ways to supplement traditional classroom instruction so student achievement increases. Exploring extracurricular programs, family-based activities, and community support are at the center of this effort. This project also supports the university’s Race and Pedagogy program, a long-term effort to raise awareness about educational issues for minority students. The Race and Pedagogy seminars and activities will help to inform broader discussions for the Educational Achievement and Assessment project.

More on these and other CSI projects at