Brian D. Christens

Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies
Faculty Affiliate, Community & Environmental Sociology
Faculty Affiliate, Population Health Sciences
Associate Director for Research, Center for Nonprofits

Expertise: community development, youth development, health promotion, action research, community-based research

[Email] [Webpage]

Project Area: Southwest Madison

Project Course:

  • School of Human Ecology’s courses on community-based research, Fall 2012 [syllabus] and Spring 2013 [syllabus].

Mentor-Tutors professional development

Course Title: Family Voices Mentor-Tutor Project
Semester: Spring 2012
Instructor/CUE Affiliate: Marian Slaughter, Boyd Rossing
Community Partner: Boys and Girls Club of Dane County

Mentor-Tutors Tim and Marisa during a mentoring session with Caleb and his mom Lena. Family Voices engages the whole family. (CUE, 2012)

Abstract: CUE developed curriculum and taught a pilot professional development course for the UW undergraduates serving as Family Voices’ mentor-tutors volunteers. This for-credit course was conducted at the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County on alternating Saturdays during the spring 2012 semester.

Student Learning Goals: Although the Family Voices Mentor-Tutor professional development course had many aspirations for mentor-tutor development, the course had four principal aims:

  • To promote personal, civic and professional growth from a sustained mentor-tutoring experience
  • To promote a deeper understanding of the issues affecting family-community-school-university connections with the aim of promoting the aspirations and achievement of children and youth
  • To enhance their effectiveness with supporting the academic and social development of children and youth
  • To inform the program in ways that contribute to improving Family Voices and its partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County

CUE Project Area: Family Voices Project


South West Madison Community Organizers

SWMCO is an independent, informal organization which welcomes all interested individuals to participate. The Mission is to empower citizen by organizing and supporting actions that create and sustain equitable, peaceful, and welcoming neighborhoods.

Their objectives are:

  • Improve and increase cross-neighborhood communication
  • Replicate the organizing process used in Meadowood in other neighborhoods
  • Build leadership within neighborhoods
  • Engage youth and develop youth leadership
  • Provide problem-solving and other support for groups that are doing good things in the neighborhoods
  • Establish a website where current activities, agendas and minutes are posted
  • Support and sustain Meadowridge Library and Meadowood Community Center
  • Be administratively self-sufficient by 2013
  • In the long term: hire a organizer

Contact: | Email | Website |

Partnership with UW-Madison:

CUE Affiliate: Randy Stoecker

South Madison

Overview: The CUE South Madison was initially a CUE pilot project. The project was developed collaboratively with community partners (see below). The community needs assessment suggested the South side’s top 3 community-identified priorities: (1) economic vitality, (2) image/perception of stigma of the area, and (3) healthy food access and nutrition education. The “image/perception of stigma of the area” was chose by students during the pilot year. The other two priorities were addressed in the year after the pilot year in different service learning courses. Geographically, the South Madison is a highly unique area in Madison with rich culture and dynamism, which confirmed by our ongoing collaboration even after the CUE pilot year.

Objectives: We had two main goals for the pilot project: (1) to create an infrastructure for campus-community partnerships that would provide an opportunity for community groups to access the UW with specific issues and problems; and (2) to work on an actual partnership between the university and the community. After the pilot, we continue to help South Madison with their self-identified community priorities.

Project Activities:

  • Slow-Food UW, promoting local and fresh food in South Madison, Spring 2011-current [project activity page]
  • A GIS certificate student helped Common Wealth Development with mapping foreclosed properties in the area to underscore need for federal Neighborhood stabilization funds, Fall 2010 [project activity page]

Project Courses:

  • Inter-HE 504 (1): CUE: South Madison, a pilot for community-campus partnership, Spring 2011
  • CNSR 477: Making Park St more Accessible and Welcoming to Students, Spring 2011
  • Inter-HE 560: Community Leadership, Fall 2011
  • J676: Technology for Social Change, Fall 2011 [project course page]
  • InterHE 570: Community-Based Research and Evaluation, Spring 2012
  • Family Voices Mentor Tutoring Program, Spring 2012 [project course page]
  • N590: Culturally Congruent Health Care Practice, Fall 2012 [project course page]
  • ENVSTUDIES 600: Community-Based Research with South Madison Farmers Market, Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 [project course page]

Project Information
CUE Affiliates: Beth Tryon, Margaret Nellis, Ariel Kaufman, Cynthia Jasper, Young-Mie Kim, Alfonso Morales
Community Partner: South Metropolitan Planning Council, Park Street Partners, South Madison Farmers’ Market, and Boys and Girls Club of Dane County