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Title Excerpt Author Date Total Comments Recent Comment
CSR discusses Deliberative Polling with “Stateside” on Michigan Radio      On September 17, CSR’s Neil Carlson and Allison Rudi were interviewed by Michigan Radio’s Cynthia Canty about the Kent County Deliberative Poll. The brief article and interview audio are published in the Next Idea series on promising ideas for the future of Michigan. Research assistants John Gordon and… Neil Carlson 09/17/15 0
Residents’ access to waterfront parks in Kent County CSR has just released a first draft of a new interactive map of the relationship between Census blocks and parks in Kent County. We’ve already learned that we missed a couple small waterfront parks in Plainfield Charter Township. We’d love to get your feedback! Take a look below, and read… Neil Carlson 06/01/15 0
Community conversations about racial equity and college affordability CSR is hosting two peer organizations as they facilitate open community conversations about racial equity and college affordability at Calvin. Please visit our public engagement site for more details! Neil Carlson 05/11/15 0
Women in Leadership National Study (Gender Parity Project) UPDATE: Christianity Today has a front-page article today (September 22) covering this study, also called the Gender Parity Project. The research team has also issued a press release. Together with partner scholars Dr. Janel Curry of Gordon College and Dr. Amy Reynolds of Wheaton College, Calvin College is conducting the… Neil Carlson 09/22/14 0
Welcome to Dr. Laura Luchies   As of June 2, 2014, CSR is pleased and excited to welcome Laura Luchies, PhD to our team as our new Assistant Director. A 2002 Calvin College graduate in psychology, Dr. Luchies has worked in business, earned a PhD in social psychology from Northwestern University, and taught psychology for… Neil Carlson 06/16/14 0
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… Neil Carlson 11/04/13 0
CSR survey of CRC churches makes the news Christianity Today magazine has reported on the 2012 CRC Survey in a recent article, “The Secrets of a Giving Church.” CSR “director emeritus” Rodger Rice, co-principal investigator on the project, was interviewed for the story. Neil Carlson 10/30/13 0
Now in development: the 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… Neil Carlson 09/18/13 0
CSR presents 2012 survey results to CRC Synod Former CSR director Rodger Rice and current director Neil Carlson completed a full report on the 2012 CRC Survey and presented the results (video, starts at 2:45) to the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church on Monday, June 10, 2013. From the summer of 2012 through January 2013, the Center… Neil Carlson 06/18/13 0
Comment magazine on Believe 2 Become and Gatherings of Hope Comment magazine, currently edited by Calvin’s James K. A. Smith (don’t miss his blog, Fors Clavigera), recently posted an excellent online article by Calvin alum Graham Scharf about the Believe 2 Become and Gatherings of Hope Initiatives. The article is titled “Renewing Social Architecture by Building Bridges” and characterizes B2B… Neil Carlson 06/18/13 0
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,… Neil Carlson 09/06/12 0
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… Neil Carlson 07/30/12 0
Summer training open to Calvin and select clients CSR has welcomed our new staff and student team and begun a summer-long training program. We'll be working with our team almost every Friday from 8:30 to 12:00, and Calvin faculty and staff and some of our off-campus clients are invited to ride along if you're interested. The schedule is… Neil Carlson 05/25/12 0
New publication on data sharing for Believe 2 Become CSR’s ongoing, long-term work with the Believe 2 Become Initiative is beginning to bear fruit. A collaborative article, for which I served as the lead author, has just been published in The Foundation Review, “the nation’s first peer-reviewed journal of philanthropy”: Title: Developing a Master Data Sharing Agreement: Seeking Student-Level Evidence to Support a Collaborative Community Effort in Education Authors: Carlson, Neil E.; Hernández, Edwin; Edmond-Verley, Chaná; Rotondaro, Gustavo; Feliz-Santana, Eleibny; Heynig, Susan Source: The Foundation Review, Volume 3, Number 4, 2011 , pp. 14-33(20) Publisher: Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University The article documents the coalition’s successful efforts to come to agreement on the complex issue of sharing student data in a secure, responsible fashion to support better personal service to students by program staff, greater alignment of out-of-school educational services with in-school curriculum, and more robust evaluation of overall program results in improving educational outcomes. The agreement facilitates transmission of data between the Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) and the Community Research Institute (CRI) at Grand Valley State University (GVSU). With parental consent, identified student information such as attendance and recent academic performance is (or will be) available on a secure, need-to-know basis for staff at B2B out-of-school programs through nFocus Solutions’ TraxSolutions suite. Meanwhile deidentified data for larger populations of B2B participants and comparison groups is available to the research and evaluation team (including CSR, CRI and Basis Policy Research) . While similar agreements have been made in other cities and school districts, they have generally been short term, less comprehensive, or have dealt only with aggregate data rather than tracking individual educational results over time. At CSR, we are privileged to be involved and excited about the potential this data-sharing infrastructure offers to Grand Rapids and to other metropolitan partnerships. As we learned at a recent Intelligence for Social Policy conference, interest and investment in data sharing agreements is soaring across the country. Grand Rapids is keeping pace and may even be moving ahead of the pack. Neil Carlson 01/08/12 0
Calvin Economics blog Don’t miss the Calvin Economics blog from our colleagues in the Department of Economics. Neil Carlson 11/09/10 0
Farewell, Jim Penning    CSR staff and students are mourning the loss of our beloved director, Dr. James Penning. Jim left us for glory the evening of July 13. He will be sorely missed, as his warmth, humor and insight made our work a joy. You can read more about Dr. Penning’s character… Neil Carlson 07/15/10 0
How big is government? Visualizing U.S. government expenses Click to enlarge image Given the pending $940 billion health care reform bill in the U.S. Congress, along with the $787 billion economic stimulus bill enacted in 2009, there is a lot of public controversy about the scope of public spending in the U.S. Just how unusual is the Obama… Neil Carlson 03/21/10 0
Christian Reformed Church congregant survey report published 2013 UPDATE: the report on the 2012 CRC Survey is available. CSR has just released our report on the 2007-2008 "CRC 150th Anniversary Survey," titled Spiritual and Social Trends and Patterns in the Christian Reformed Church in North America. The report was co-authored with our esteemed "director emeritus" Rodger Rice.… Neil Carlson 09/22/09 0
More about KCCS canvassing KCCS is on Calvin’s home page today, thanks to Allison Graff—have a look. Neil Carlson 07/20/09 0
Report on selection of majors in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) We are releasing today our new report Cultivating STEM: Why West Michigan college students select majors in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The Van Andel Education Institute sponsored our fall 2008 survey of West Michigan college juniors at four local schools. 888 students participated. Key findings in the report include:… Neil Carlson 05/21/09 0
Multicultural Climate Survey drawing winners The online phase of the Multicultural Climate Survey has been completed as of Saturday, May 9, with 2,127 responses. Here's the final response rate chart: We are now moving toward collecting paper responses from staff members who do not have regular access to email. Final results of the survey will… Neil Carlson 05/12/09 0
“Clergy Participation in Local Politics” paper and presentation Following up on the Gatherings of Hope report for a general public readership, CSR and our research partners are beginning to produce academic studies from the 2007 Kent County Congregations Study. CSR Director Jim Penning will present our paper on "Clergy Participation in Local Politics" at the Annual Meeting of… Neil Carlson 03/13/09 0
The Clergy & Public Affairs Survey is underway! The Clergy & Public Affairs Survey is underway! In cooperation with Corwin Smidt, the Henry Institute, and several cooperating scholars, CSR is in the midst of launching a major quadrennial post-presidential-election survey of clergy in several denominations. We have already mailed surveys to the clergy of many denominations, including the… Neil Carlson 02/20/09 1 02/18/09
Visualizing vision statements Happy 2009 from CSR! An online tool called Wordle is all the rage; we found it after FlowingData gave Wordle honorable mention in its 5 Best Data Visualization Projects of the Year. We couldn't resist feeding the 55 of the "most quotable" vision statements from respondents to the Kent County… Neil Carlson 01/05/09 0
KCCS presentation to religious leaders November 10 was a great day. About 150 religious leaders from 72 diverse congregations in Kent County gathered with other civic, community and academic leaders at the Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville for the Kent County Religious Leaders Symposium. Many participants have suggested further meetings to keep energy high, and efforts… Neil Carlson 12/10/08 0
Gatherings of Hope report released from the Kent County Congregations Study Download the report(PDF, 100pp., 4.7Mb)Order bound copies from the Calvin College Campus Store.   Our report on the Kent County Congregations Study of 2007 is now online! The report, entitled Gatherings of Hope: How Religious Congregations Contribute to the Quality of Life in Kent County is downloadable now in PDF format and bound, full-color copies are available for purchase from the Calvin Campus Store. As reported on Sunday in the Grand Rapids Press, the KCCS is the most comprehensive study of religious congregations and how they contribute to the quality of life in Kent County. Inspired by the philanthropic vision of Doug and Maria DeVos and funded by their foundation, the project affirms the need for educational, community and religious sectors to collaborate in efforts to improve the lives of children and their families. These major findings of the report are found in the Executive Summary: Kent County is an unusually religious community. Compared to congregations across the country, Kent County residents are significantly more likely to attend religious services. Kent County congregations are larger in size, have more leaders, are better funded, and are more likely to have participated in or supported a social service program. Hundreds of congregations are located in areas of poverty and great need. Compared to majority White congregations, Black and Hispanic congregations in the county average three to four times the proportion of people with household incomes under $25,000. Local congregations transfer $75.6 million annually to denominations and to international, domestic and county aid and missions—but only 14 percent is clearly designated for Kent County. Worship services in Kent County take place in 28 different languages, reflecting cultural and ethnic diversity. At times multiple languages are spoken in the same congregation. Religious attendance is strongly associated with service to others. Almost 5,200 people from Kent County congregations—including paid staff and volunteers—participate in community service activities. Congregation leaders spend time worth $8.8 million annually on civic and social efforts. Congregations supply 2,827 volunteers for educational programs, but only a third of congregations report any involvement with public schools. Kent County congregations offer higher numbers of social service programs than comparable national averages—2,338 programs in all. Religious participation is not required by 70 percent of these programs. Other institutions would have to generate from $95 million to $118 million to replace the services and programs that Kent County congregations provide annually in their community-serving ministries. Gatherings of Hope is being distributed today to over 200 religious and community leaders at the Kent County Religious Leaders Symposium, held at the Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville. Neil Carlson 11/10/08 0
VanAntwerp presents engineering retention findings at ASEE   Engineering professor Dr. Jennifer Jewett VanAntwerp will present findings from a pilot study of engineering student retention at Calvin at the annual conference of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) on Tuesday, June 24 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The presentation will describe a new measurement model that attempts to… Neil Carlson 05/27/08 0
Business development mentoring in Haiti, Kenya and Nicaragua In summer and fall 2007, CSR assisted Roland Hoksbergen, professor of economics and international development, and student Jeremy Veenema in their evaluation of the Partners Worldwide “Million Mentors Initiative.” In addition to other information sources, Hoksbergen and Veenema conducted a survey of the target population for the initiative, entrepreneurs and… Neil Carlson 05/01/08 0
CSR Open House on April 3   Please join us on the afternoon of April 3, 2008, 3:30 - 6:00pm for a friendly open house at the stylish new offices of the Center for Social Research at 2041 Raybrook St. SE, Suite 103, downstairs from the Van Lunen Center and Kuyers Institute. We’d like to welcome… Neil Carlson 04/03/08 0
Monsma publishes book on Christian evaluation of public policy   Adapted from the Christians in Political Science newsletter for March 2008: Just published, Healing for a Broken World: Christian Perspectives on Public Policy is written by Steve Monsma, a research fellow at the Henry Institute at Calvin College and a former CPS president. In his book, Steve lays out foundational biblical principles for guiding Christians’ evaluation of current public policy issues and then applies them to several key issue areas. His goal is not to prescribe specific public policy positions, but to assist believers to evaluate and reach their own public policy positions in a thoughtful manner, guided by biblical principles. It is published by Crossway Books; more information can be found at The Henry Institute has also produced a DVD and study guide to accompany the book, which is suited for use in introductory college classes and study groups. More information on it can be found at the Henry Institute publications page. Neil Carlson 03/04/08 0
Major study documents religious mobility The Grand Rapids Press newspaper invited CSR staff to comment for a story about a major new study of American religion by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. A massive survey of over 35,000 people, the U.S. Religious Landscape study reveals significant levels of religious mobility among Americans,… Neil Carlson 02/26/08 0
Dr. James Penning to direct CSR Dr. James Penning, currently chair of Calvin’s Department of Political Science, has been appointed to become Director of the Center for Social Research effective June 1, 2008. Dr. Penning’s extensive experience includes a panoply of research- and community-related projects and positions. A scholar of public administration, urban, state and local… Neil Carlson 02/12/08 0
Prof. Corwin Smidt and student to publish paper on political cues during worship Political science professor Corwin Smidt and senior Calvin College student Brian Schaap have co-authored a paper which will be published in a future issue of the Review of Religious Research (RRR). The paper is titled "Public Worship and Public Engagement: Pastoral Cues within the Context of Worship Services". An advance… Neil Carlson 01/18/08 0
Gwen Einfeld’s team wins Calvin bizPlan 2007 Congratulations to Gwen Einfeld, CSR’s omni-competent senior Research Coordinator. Gwen’s team won the first annual bizPlan entrepreneurship competition at Calvin in late November. An engineering major, Gwen helped Team Volturna propose a design for an electronic device that would receive wireless multimedia from computers and display it on a television.… Neil Carlson 12/05/07 0
CSR report to CRC on the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program On November 15, CSR presented its 2007 survey report to the board of the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence project in the Christian Reformed Church. The report is posted here. Neil Carlson 11/15/07 0
Calvin team maps health care for low-income patients In summer 2007, Dr. Fred De Jong and social work student Lauren Vander Plas (at left) completed a significant report for the Grand Rapids Healthy Communities Access Program (GRHCAP), a federal grant awarded to Cherry Street Health Services as the head of a regional consortium of health care organizations. The… Neil Carlson 10/02/07 1 05/20/09
CRC projects in the works CSR is working away on two major projects related to the Christian Reformed Church, Calvin College’s parent church. A report to the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) program on the Spring 2007 survey of pastors and clerks of council, to be presented to the SPE advisory board at their November 15… Neil Carlson 09/26/07 0
CSR Fellows Mulder and Smith to present at Yale conference Constructing a study of faith and cities CSR’s faculty Fellows for 2006-2008 are Drs. Mark Mulder of Sociology (on left above) and James K. A. Smith of Philosophy (on right above). The duo will present a report on their work in progress, “Subdivided by Faith,” at the conference on Ecclesiology… Neil Carlson 09/19/07 0
Calvin Press Release about our KCCS student team Our Calvin student team is wrapping up its summer work this week, and Calvin’s Media Relations folks have produced an excellent press release about KCCS, written primarily from the perspective of student team members. The project is on schedule! As of this writing, CSR student Field Interviewers have completed 245… Neil Carlson 08/16/07 0
KCCS makes the front page  CSR’s major summer project, the Kent County Congregations Study, made the front page of the Grand Rapids Press newspaper today. In scope, KCCS is one of the most ambitious local studies of congregations ever undertaken. Because the goal is to learn how to provide better future service provision to the… Neil Carlson 07/15/07 0
KCCS field interviewers ready for launch! The Kent County Congregation Study (KCCS) team were all in one place today, enjoying lunch and preparing to interview clergy all over the county. Front Row (seated or kneeling): Benjamin Moore, Rev. Lorenzo Miguel, Yolanda Ivens, Neil Carlson, Grace Miguel, Jessica Siekmeier, Zuri Suero. Second Row: Elizabeth Gonzalez, Paula Simoni,… Neil Carlson 06/22/07 0
Methods:  Survey Experiments and Resilience Some meaty methodological advice on experimentation in surveys is found in the Winter 2007 issue of Political Analysis (the journal of the Methodology Section of the American Political Science Association). In “The Logic of the Survey Experiment Reexamined,” authors Gaines, Kuklinski and Quirk (2006, pages 1-20) offer an overview of… Neil Carlson 01/12/07 0
Correlates of Congregational Growth, 2000-2005:  Vitality, Purpose, Drums, and Irreverent Joy What has distinguished growing American congregations from their stagnant and dwindling cousins? Some tentative answers are found in a new report from Faith Communities Today:  a growing, youthful demographic setting, a multiethnic constituency, a “vital,” contemporary worship style, and a purposeful organizational disposition to grow and change. Drums and “joyful”… Neil Carlson 12/19/06 0
Follow the Money: Mapping Campaign Contributions What:   Social Science Division Symposium When:   Tuesday, November 14 @ 3:30PM Where:   DeVos Communication Center room 170 Who:   All social science faculty, with other faculty and students welcome.       Speaker:   Neil Carlson, Assistant Director of the Center for Social Research Topic:   Following… Neil Carlson 10/30/06 0
Studying urban sprawl from space Discover magazine led me to a great find, a new satellite imagery study of urban sprawl in the US by a University of Toronto team led by economist Matthew Turner. The study surprisingly finds less sprawl than expected overall, but major differences among metropolitan areas. Miami is compact, Pittsburgh sprawls.… Neil Carlson 09/14/06 0
Calvin faculty study local congregational worship The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) has received a grant from the Lilly Endowment to better understand the transformative nature of worship. A team of nine Calvin College faculty and Center for Social Research (CSR) staff are working with John Witvliet and the Worship Institute staff to study issues of “Worship, Worldview and Way of Life.” Five of these faculty members are working together and partnering with ten local congregations in Grand Rapids to do a series of studies. The ten churches represent both urban and suburban locations as well as a variety of denominations. These studies cover worship’s relationship to everything from conceptions of community to issues of race. In keeping with the Worship Institute’s practical goals, the aim is to help congregations become more reflective about how worship can empower congregants to be transformative agents in society. CSR staff and student research assistants are providing research support, especially Gwen Einfeld, who is organizing tracking of recordings and transcripts. Read on for details of these studies and biographical sketches of the faculty conducting them. Neil Carlson 09/06/06 0
CSR Project Fellows Mulder and Smith gearing up Jamie Smith (Philosophy) and Mark Mulder (Sociology) are the CSR Project Fellows for the 2006-2008 academic years. They’re planning a pilot study of evangelical Christians’ attitudes and beliefs about cities and residential patterns. Read on for excerpts from their proposal… Neil Carlson 09/01/06 0
Volunteer now: See colors and spot churches Volunteers are needed to visit rural areas this fall to help finish a congregational census of Kent County. Sign up for training, then cover a part of the county in late September and early October. About ten pairs of volunteers can finish the job in under a week. Training:  Saturday,… Neil Carlson 08/31/06 0
A new paradigm for a new year Greetings, colleagues! For 2006-2007, the Center for Social Research is moving to a new project management footing, of which this brand new weblog is a part. We are working to place new emphasis on our primary mission:  helping Calvin faculty improve our academic research in the social sciences. CSR’s support… Neil Carlson 08/23/06 0
Cherry Street: Tracking Low-Cost Medicines for Low-Income Citizens In January 2006, Calvin computer science major Mark Van Holstyn, then a junior, along with CSR Assistant Director Neil Carlson, completed the initial stage of design and deployment of a new web-based database application and research tool for Cherry Street Health Services, a non-profit health system with nine clinics serving… Neil Carlson 08/14/06 0
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