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    Understanding the Realities of Material Hardship
    (2018-10) Heflin, Colleen
    How do low income households – specifically those experiencing material hardship — participate in our social service delivery system? This question is central to research by Colleen Heflin, a professor at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Material hardship is different from poverty, explains Heflin. There are often specific triggers for moving into and out of hardship — such as the loss of a job — that make it difficult for individuals or households to cover essential expenses. A person experiencing material hardship may be unable to pay rent or mortgage, purchase food, or afford doctors appointments. Heflin's research seeks to better understand how the current human service delivery system may contribute to these hardships, and what changes can be made to help put individuals on the path to economic self-sufficiency.
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    Training Developing Brains to Regulate Stress
    (2018-08) Pakulak, Eric
    Eric Pakulak, acting director of the Brain Development Lab at the University of Oregon, is using neuroscience research to develop more effective family-based training programs for young children and parents. Our work is "providing evidence at the level of brain mechanisms for the effects of poverty on the developing brain, but I think more importantly, what we can do about it and how we can use this evidence to design and implement effective programs for families," he says. To better understand how poverty and environmental stress impact school readiness in preschool-aged children, Pakulak uses a technique called electrophysiology to measure the ability of children's brains to focus on certain stimuli and ignore others. This skill, called sustained selective attention, is especially important for classroom environments.
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    The Geography of Poverty in America
    (2018-08) Allard, Scott
    "Poverty problems are problems for everybody," says Scott W. Allard, Daniel J. Evans Endowed Professor of Social Policy at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. Allard's book Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty explores the rise in poverty in America's suburbs over the past three decades. In this video, Allard discusses how the shifting geography of poverty — in combination with the persistent poverty problems in urban centers — poses new challenges for public and nonprofit assistance programs. "Ultimately our ability to tackle poverty effectively is going to hinge on whether we see it [poverty] as a shared fate," he says.
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    The CREATE Initiative Policy Toolkit: Sharing In the Benefits of a Greening City
    (2020) Swift, Kaleigh; Klein, Mira
    "What are ways that we can envision greening as a way to create a more equitable and just world?" The CREATE Initiative, an interdisciplinary group of scholars, community leaders, and engaged researchers funded by the University of Minnesota's Grand Challenges Research Initiative, works to tackle issues at the intersection of environment and equity. In this video, research associate Mira Klein and program coordinator Kaleigh Swift of the CREATE Initiative describe the scope and purpose of the initiative's policy toolkit. The toolkit aims to redesign existing anti-displacement policy tools to provide guidance for institutions and organizations working with communities of color and low-income communities who face displacement as a result of green gentrification, housing crisis, and historic inequities. Klein and Swift discuss the process of creating the toolkit, explain its goals and strategies, and share their hopes for its implementation: "There's a clear relationship between environmental justice types of work and housing work. If people are able to make that connection, that's really important." Listen to Humphrey School assistant professor Bonnie Keeler discuss the CREATE Initiative in more detail in this Civios podcast:
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    Policy and Planning Opportunities of Self-Driving Vehicles
    (2017-09) Douma, Frank
    The "future" of self-driving vehicles is quickly becoming reality. As these technologies make their way into the vehicles that get us from point A to point B, they are beginning to disrupt not only the way we think about transportation, but the way we relate to the built environment and organize the way we live. As planners and policymakers, we need to consider how to best take advantage of these changes: can we eliminate distracted driving, traffic congestion, and expensive parking? Will we be able to maintain an independent lifestyle later into life? Will we feel the need to own our own car? Can we adapt our land use to allow these changes to happen? Frank Douma, Director of the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, considers these questions.
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    Navigating Work-Life Conflict
    (2018-02) Oelberger, Carrie
    In this video Carrie Oelberger, assistant professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, discusses work-life conflict and the challenge of navigating the boundaries between our personal and work lives. "The more meaningful someone finds their work, the harder it will be for them to erect those boundaries," she says. Rather than placing the burden solely on individuals, Oelberger argues that employers have a responsibility to encourage healthy work practices—especially if there's an existing organizational culture that encourages over-work. "If we're retaining workers that are deeply personally discontented then that has really negative outcomes both for the workers and for the organizations."
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    Improving Children’s Access to Mental Health Care
    (2018-10) Lingras, Katherine
    Katherine Lingras, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota, specializes in early childhood mental health. Her research is focused on making mental health care more accessible in early childhood and bridging gaps between academic research and practice. In this video, Lingras shares insights from a recent study that integrated mental health services–specifically screening for social and emotional development—into a pediatric clinic.
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    Happy Cities: The Role of Transportation
    (2017) Fan, Yingling
    Psychology research increasingly suggests that emotional well-being contributes to human development in significant ways. Happier people often are more productive and creative, have better family and social relationships, and in general are more successful. For urban planners, it is important to understand people’s daily emotional experiences as they move through cities, according to research by Yingling Fan, Associate Professor in the Regional Planning and Policy Area at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Are we creating neighborhoods and cities with emotional intelligence, capable of evoking positive emotions and reducing negative emotions?
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    Gage East: Using Developmental Evaluation to Support Innovation in Housing Services
    (2017) Sandfort, Jodi; Sarode, Trupti
    When a community wants to develop new services for homeless youth and young families, what is really involved? Olmsted County and Center City Housing Corporation set out to fully explore this question as collaborators. Beginning in 2012, they identified the necessary components to a successful service: who to serve, where the housing services will be, how it will be funded over time, and who else would be good partners in this effort. Yet, to do this effectively, there were many questions yet to be answered that required a collaborative, continuous approach. The Future Services Institute (FSI) at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs worked with Olmsted County Community Services, Center City Housing Corporation and other partners, using a developmental evaluation design to help them frame the project, track its development, identify issues as they surface, and test quick iterations in problem solving.
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    Exploring Government-Nonprofit Relationships Through Spending on Local Parks
    (2019-04) Cheng, Daniel
    Research by Humphrey School of Public Affairs Assistant Professor Daniel Cheng explores the changing relationships between local governments and nonprofit organizations. As nonprofits raise more money to support public services, their role is no longer limited to just delivering and implementing those services. They now get involved in both service planning and design. Cheng's research looks at how this dynamic plays out in parks and recreation services in large American cities. “We see the emergence of volunteer groups, 'friends' groups, that are set up to offset the government funding shortfall in these areas. They do things like cleanups and other tasks to help maintain the parks,” says Cheng. “These organizations become more prominent as government faces budget challenges ... They play a very important role in mobilizing volunteer support, raising public dollars, and the like.” Cheng found that when nonprofits start to take on more important roles, that influences local governments’ decisions to finance these services. “Local governments begin to invest less in these services when nonprofits invest more. However, the total support for these services actually increases,” Cheng says. This challenges the existing knowledge we have about government/nonprofit relationships, he says. “The next question is: when nonprofits play these kinds of roles, do they result in a better quality of public services, or worse?”
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    Evaluating Urban Food Systems
    (2018) Boyer, Dana
    It is projected that about two thirds of the world's population will live in cities by 2050. Making sure that cities can handle the influx of people means considering more than transportation, energy, and water systems."Looking at urban food systems becomes really important when you want to sustain a global population,” explains Dana Boyer, a researcher in the Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy area at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. "A perspective shift is necessary to think about food systems as we would a transportation system or a water system." As food demands continue to shape our cities, Boyer says it is important to take into account environmental and health impacts as well as issues of equity. Her research focuses on developing metrics and methods to measure the energy, greenhouse gas, water, and land resources that a city needs to support their food system. "When a city wants to work on their food supply the first question is—how much food does our city need and where is it coming from?"
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    Engaging Dads in Family Programs
    (2018-08) Fabiano, Gregory
    "We were running parenting programs, and dads weren't showing up for them," says Gregory Fabiano, a professor of counseling at the University at Buffalo. Fabiano is an expert on evaluating and treating attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other disruptive behavior disorders in children and teens. In this video, Fabiano discusses the importance to designing support programs for children that actively engage parents — and how he and colleagues created an innovative sports little league program to increase the participation of dads.
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    Coordinated Education Programs for Children and Parents
    (2018-06) Eckrich Sommer, Teresa
    "One of the biggest determinants of the outcomes of any individual is their level of education and income," says Teresa Eckrich Sommer, a research associate professor at Northwestern University. Unlike many human services programs that treat each member of a household individually, Sommer's research is focused on designing programs for families. This "two-generation" approach aims to improve human capital outcomes for parents and children simultaneously. Sommer's current research pairs career support and workforce training for parents of low-income households with high-quality early education programs for their children through Head Start. "This kind of work tells us that you can really create changes within how services are delivered and that you can better coordinate and align them in ways that serve the interests of parents and children at the same time. And we know that is critically important to improving family wellbeing," she says.
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    Building Community Support for Young Children With Autism
    (2018-08) Stronach, Sheri
    "Early intervention is key," says Sheri Stronach, an assistant professor in the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences at the University of Minnesota, who researches early identification of autism spectrum disorder in children. Early detection can have a positive impact on intervention, and Stronach has shown that autism can be reliably diagnosed in children as young as 18 to 24 months. Her current research examines the impacts of autism interventions in six communities around Minnesota: four in the Twin Cites and two outside of the metro area. When conducting this kind of community impact research on autism, she notes, it is important to develop trusting relationships with community members. This can help researchers navigate cultural barriers and stigma among families and health care providers.
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    Animating Children’s Views: An Innovative Methodology for Quantitative Research
    (2021-02) Levison, Deborah
    UNCRC Article 12 (Convention on the Rights of the Child) states that children's views and perspectives should be listened to, especially when it comes to policy decisions that affect them. In theory, this is great—but it's hardly the norm, particularly in the Global South. Professor Deborah Levison and her research assistant, PhD student Anna Bolgrien, sought to develop a way to survey children in the Global South about difficulties and challenges they may be facing in everyday life, which had to be done without putting children at risk of being overheard and punished by their family members or communities. The result: Animating Children's Views, an open-source, human rights–based interview methodology using simple cartoon vignettes featuring different scenarios (e.g., peer pressure, child labor, street harassment) and a scale of emoji faces ranging from happy to sad. After collaborating with an artist and an animator to create the vignettes, Levison and Bolgrien worked with teams of local collaborators in Nepal and Tanzania to gather quantitative data, with plans to expand the project to Brazil. They hope that other organizations will adopt the Animating Children's Views methodology and use its online library of images and animations to help influence policy changes on a global scale. "The point is that whatever kids have to say, we should be listening to it more," Levison says.
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    Africa’s First Democrats
    (2017) Samatar, Abdi
    Abdi Ismail Samatar provides a clear and foundational history of Somalia at the dawn of the country’s independence when Africa’s first democrats appeared. While many African countries were dominated by authoritarian rulers when they entered the postcolonial era—and scholars have assumed this as a standard feature of political leadership on the continent—Somalia had an authentic democratic leadership providing fundamental lessons.