CUE Pilot Year

by Ashleigh Ross

How to build a Science Shop model for Madison? UW professionals and graduate students, interested faculty and community partners all agreed that the CUE pilot stood a better chance of succeeding if built on a strong established relationship. We considered a decade of sustained partnership between the UW- Madison and the South Park St. area to be an ideal model. Community representation included South Metropolitan Planning Council (SMPC), Park Street Partners, South Madison Farmer’s Market, and the Boys and Girls Club and Dane County. CUE affiliates on campus and community organizations from this economically, ethnically, and culturally diverse area had long- standing connections. Dr. Margaret Nellis and Ariel Kaufman had both been involved in a program called Campus-Community Partnerships (CCP) out of the Office of the Chancellor. CCP was a collaborative effort among higher education institutions and S. Park St. community development organizations. It had lost UW-Madison funding and its stakeholders reached out to CUE to fill the gap.

A section of South Park St. taken from a shoe repair store that has existed since 1938 (University Communication, 2005)

The pilot had two main goals: (1) to create an infrastructure for partnerships that would provide opportunities for community groups to access the UW with specific issues and problems; and (2) to work on actual community-based participatory research (CBPR) in a collaboration between the university and the community.

These two goals were translated into a two-semester plan: a CBPR needs assessment and curriculum development in fall 2010, and a Special Topics CBPR seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies (IS), School of Human Ecology, approved by Chair Cynthia Jasper, “Community-University Exchange: South Madison.” as “home base” in spring 2011. The fall activities defined specific research questions, developed a research plan, and collected and analyzed some preliminary data following the guidelines indicated in the Community Identified Priorities (CIPs, Figure 1). The class provided an effective and efficient mechanism for incorporating students into CUE, by channeling students with interdisciplinary backgrounds and skills into project teams. These were complemented by other service- learning classes, all orchestrated by CUE’s planning team.

During this one-year process, CUE staff, community stakeholders, and students collaboratively identified three top community issues that we had capacity to address: [1] economic vitality of South Park St., [2] image/perception of stigma of the area, and [3] healthy food access and nutrition education.

The students in the CUE: South Madison class worked on a community-driven project with the SMPC to address the misperception by many in the city of South Park St.’s attributes. With assistance from Professor Hemant Shah of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, the course conducted a media bias study, exploring whether anecdotal evidence that the mainstream print outlets were prejudiced in their coverage was supported by quantitative data.

An evaluation of that course was conducted, and results showed satisfaction of students, staff and community participants with how the CUE pilot went and its impact on the community in providing needed research. The model we employed in that course has been institutionalized as part of the curriculum in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, and is now a required course for all Community Nonprofit Leadership majors.

Three other groups participated in the pilot:

  • Professor Anna McAlister taught Consumer Science 477, aiding CUE in addressing the CIP of economic vitality. Students interviewed business owners on South Park Street and made recommendations based on their coursework as to how they might attract other students to patronize their businesses. Suggestions such as installing bike racks, promoting free Wi-Fi where offered, and signage visible from a bicycle were ideas that business owners said they greatly appreciated from the student perspective.
  • Dr. Nellis led an independent study with Slow-Food UW interns, who worked with South Madison Farmers’ Market manager Robert Pierce and the Boys & Girls Club to promote healthy eating initiatives for children. This project has expanded and is ongoing (see other article).
  • A capstone internship project with the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) certificate program in the Department of Geography contributed assistance with mapping foreclosure data. Common Wealth Development (CWD) and the Dane County Foreclosure Prevention Taskforce approached CUE, concerned about how the South Madison community is affected by foreclosures of homeowners and renters. CUE was able to connect CWD with Jeff Becker, a student in the GIS certificate program. With assistance from Matthew Kures of the UW-Extension Center for Community and Economic Development, Jeff conducted spatial analysis of Dane County foreclosure data. The resulting map showed a distinct cluster of foreclosed properties in the South and Southwest Madison area. Further, three of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in all of Dane County are located in the South Madison area: Allied Community, Burr Oaks neighborhood, and Bram’s Addition neighborhood. The CWD hoped to use the visual representation to obtain Federal Neighborhood Stabilization funds to purchase imperiled apartment complexes so the tenants are not dislocated. A full report on how Jeff implemented the GIS analysis is available at the CUE website. ■

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