Center for Social Research

New search for CSR’s next Assistant Director

CSR has a ton of work to do, so we are expanding our team. We are looking for great candidates with relevant Master’s or PhD degrees to fill our Assistant Director position. Having been the Assistant Director myself, I can tell you that the job is a challenging and rewarding platform on which to build a great career in research. Calvin College and CSR are increasingly connected to the community, technically sophisticated and involved in a broad array of interesting on- and off-campus projects. To get more information, visit employment.calvin.edu or contact us at 616 526-7799 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Posted by Neil Carlson on Monday, November 04, 2013 at 12:25 PM
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Social Sciences Lunch Seminar Series - Fall 2013

Each year, the social science departments invite a selection of expert speakers to give an informational presentation about a topic in their field. This year’s speakers for the fall semester are:

Date
Professor
Department
Session Title
October 18th
Business
The Spread of New Illegal
Practices Among Management Elite.
November 1st
Political Science
(Vanderbilt University)
Building Effective Models
for Social Science Research.
November 15th
Psychology
Outcomes Among Children Adopted
Internationally at School-Age.

Each talk will begin at 12:30p in the Alumni Association Board Room.  Professor Steve McMullen will distribute lunch tickets before the conversation begins.  Each talk will end with enough time to get to 1:30p classes.

We hope to see you there!

Posted by Michael Kelly on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 03:04 PM
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Now in development: the 2014 Kent County Deliberative Poll

 

Civic-minded friends, watch this space for news about our newest initiative, the Kent County Deliberative Poll®, inspired by and intended for local implementation in cooperation with James Fishkin and the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University.

Please extend a warm welcome to Project Coordinator Allison Rudi, who will be contacting a broad coalition of community partners and research organizations (including you) to advise, sponsor, conduct and benefit from this combined research and civic education project. This fall, we’ll be working on coalition-building, branding and design, fundraising, research design, project planning and budgeting, development of unbiased reading materials, recruitment of expert deliberative-democracy moderators, student involvement, and more.

Questions? Want to get in on the ground floor? Contact Allison by email or call CSR at 616 526-8934.

Posted by Neil Carlson on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 10:33 AM
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Public and official opinion about cooperation and combination of local governments

Survey results released today show that a majority of survey respondents, both residents and elected officials of Kent County, Michigan, support sharing services such as police, fire and public works among governments, but there is no majority for sharing assessment of property values or tax collection. Majorities support informal cooperation, formal contracts and combining agencies, but a supermajority of responding elected officials and a near-majority of responding residents oppose merging governments into larger units.

Jim Penning’s legacy of research in public service

Not long before he passed away in 2010, then-director of CSR Dr. Jim Penning was inspired and agitated by an article in the Grand Rapids Press (now lost to memory). An experienced commissioner of the City of Kentwood, Dr. Penning began working with me to design a survey about local government cooperation and consolidation. We met with our friends at the Community Research Institute (CRI) at Grand Valley State University (GVSU), and they agreed to adapt our design for inclusion in an upcoming version of the Greater Grand Rapids Community Survey.

This morning, I had the privilege of bringing Jim’s work to fruition by pinch-hitting for CRI staff in presenting recent survey results to the board of the Grand Valley Metropolitan Council. GVMC is an august gathering of mayors and other local officials from Kent County and several other West Michigan counties. An important vehicle for cooperation among local governments, GVMC co-sponsored the survey project, with grant funding from the Frey Foundation. GVMC provided a list of elected officials for a mail survey parallel to GGRCS. Today’s presentation juxtaposed these two surveys to compare the opinions of residents and elected officials. The event was covered by Calvin grad Matt Vande Bunte of the Grand Rapids Press.

Survey results

Readers may be interested in versions of the presentation with notes or as full size slides, along with a two-page handout summarizing the findings.

Here are two key charts from the end of the presentation that summarize the findings.

Support for sharing various services

Chart of survey results on sharing services

Degrees of intergovernmental cooperation and consolidation

Chart of survey results on degrees of cooperation

Posted by Neil Carlson on Thursday, September 06, 2012 at 08:44 PM
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Fundraising by Christian colleges during the recession

 

The journal Christian Higher Education has published an article (click for abstract and full text) based on survey data collected by CSR and co-authored by Neil Carlson:

    Janel Curry, Scott Rodin & Neil Carlson (2012): Fundraising In Difficult Economic Times: Best Practices, Christian Higher Education, 11:4, 241-252

Janel Curry is the newly-appointed Provost of Gordon College and conducted this research in her role as the Gary and Henrietta Byker Chair in Christian Perspectives on Political, Social and Economic Thought. Scott Rodin is currently partner for strategic alliances at Artios Partners. At the time of writing, both Curry and Rodin were associated with the not-for-profit practice of the One Accord consulting group.

As summarized in the article abstract, “Our research suggests that macroeconomic conditions, the number of development staff, and the size of development budget do not predict [fundraising] performance. Performance is related to a transformational approach to development work built on a compelling vision that is communicated clearly.”

 

Posted by Neil Carlson on Monday, July 30, 2012 at 10:45 AM
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