In Rutgers University–Camden’s interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in public affairs, students learn that community development takes place at the intersections of increasingly complex and globalized economic, political, legal, and social systems.
A testament to this comprehensive approach, 10 Ph.D. students in public affairs made research presentations – each unique in its focus on policies and practices – at the 44th annual conference of the Urban Affairs Association, held from March 19 to 22 in San Antonio.
“I am very proud of the accomplishments of the Ph.D. students and their contributions to urban-affairs research,” says Marie Chevrier, chair of the Department of Public Policy and Administration at Rutgers–Camden and head of the Ph.D. program.
It is a remarkable achievement for a relatively new program, and an impressive accomplishment for the university, adds Paul Jargowsky, director of the Center for Urban Research and Education at Rutgers–Camden.
The presentations were as follows:
Urban Decline, Municipal Takeover, and Local Democracy
Presenter: Ashley Nickels
Nickels’ research examines the criticism stating that municipal takeovers are a threat to democracy, as it suspends the decision-making powers of elected officials. Her paper looks at how the policy design and implementation of municipal takeover impacts institutional arrangements for public political participation.
The Impact of Local Institutional Arrangements on Nonprofit Boundary Spanning Activity
Presenter: Kirk Leach
Leach’s research examines how locally based nonprofit organizations are collaborating with other organizations from different sectors. His research paper develops a contingent theoretical model that explains the formation and structure of cross-sector community partnerships under specific local conditions.
Putting Compassion to Work: Strategies for Comprehensively Incorporating Disaster Relief Volunteerism Directly into Disaster Planning
Presenters: Jason Rivera and Zach Wood
Rivera and Wood’s research seeks to explore the attention given to the usage and management of spontaneous volunteers in disaster-response activities among the nation’s 30 largest cities. Preliminary findings suggest that cities’ attention to such issues within their disaster plans does not seem to be related to the number of federally declared disasters that these cities experience.
Towards a New Typology of Nonprofit Political Behavior: A New Level of Precision
Presenter: Zach Wood
Wood’s research aims to add a new level of analytic utility to research on nonprofit political behavior by developing a more precise typology of these behaviors. He believes that the development of this new typology will allow scholars to tease out variations in behavior and test further hypotheses about what types of political behavior nonprofit organizations may engage in, as well as why and when.
Neighborhood Organization Navigating the Complexity of City Council District Boundaries
Presenter: Spencer Clayton
Based in part on his work with Councilman Bobby Henon's office in the 6th City Council District in Philadelphia, Clayton’s research is focused on two neighborhood organizations that are in the process of revitalizing their commercial corridors. One organization represents a commercial corridor that is fully encompassed by the council district, while the other represents a commercial corridor that is split across four districts. Clayton’s goal is to determine if the condition of having a neighborhood divided across multiple council districts has a direct impact on the strategy of a neighborhood organization.
Home Sweet Home: Determinants of Tenure Among Public Housing Residents
Presenter: Prentiss Dantzler
Dantzler’s research analyzes individual and neighborhood factors that contribute to the length of time people stay in public housing. His research offers evidence for political discourse and policy interventions in terms of federal housing programs, especially in urban areas.
Understanding Public Engagement in Municipal International Cooperation
Presenter: Patricia Ciorici
Ciorci’s research examines the role of individuals and community groups in establishing and maintaining sister city relationships, and explores how community members encounter and experience municipal international cooperation, uncovering their attitudes and concerns related to sister city activities.
The Organizational Life Cycle of Community Gardens
Presenter: Danny Tarng
According to Tarng, community gardens provide a diverse range of benefits to people and places, yet many cease to exist after only a few years of operation. His research investigates community gardens through an organizational lens to determine why they fail and how they can be organized for more longevity.
Tax Increment Financing and Economic Growth – A National Perspective
Presenter: Chris Wheeler
Wheeler’s research examines whether cities that implement tax increment financing, a popular tool of city-development financing, have higher levels of economic growth than cities that do not, holding all other relevant factors constant. In short, the paper examines whether using tax increment financing generally makes a difference in enhancing city economic growth.
Community Healthcare Redefined: The Role of Grass-Roots Community Health Organizations and Outreach Workers in Education and Access
Presenter: Straso Jovanovski
According to Jovanovski, improving health and health outcomes is integral to arriving at a greater level of social justice and equity, and the ability for personal self-actualization. Community-based health programs and initiatives are uniquely positioned to affect change in perceptions and attitudes toward health. Jovanovski’s research explores the potential of such programs to serve as a sustaining catalyst for both individual and community empowerment as it relates to health.