Civic Engagement



Neighborhood Council-City Agency Collaboration in Delivery of City Service-Role of the University as a Mediating Institution

The Collaborative Learning Project (CLP) at the University of Southern California has been devoted to developing a model for a collaborative consensus-based process that city departments and neighborhoods can use to arrive at agreements about how they will collaborate to improve the delivery of city services. The research team played a mediating role between the two groups and facilitated a collaborative planning exercise that determined how the city agencies would deliver their services in the neighborhood council area.

This paper deals with developing neighborhood council and city agency partnerships that work, as well as the role of applied research that involve academic institutions in creating solutions. Specifically, the mediating institution has a role in increasing trust, reducing power imbalances and increasing information access. The paper also discusses a brief history of public administration and its influence on the teaching of public administration in academic institutions. We then argue that the dominant philosophy of public administration inhibits action research and that universities have an important role to play as mediating institutions and boundary spanners in getting citizen groups and city agencies together in collaborative planning exercises. We conclude by presenting our model of collaborative planning and discussing the role played by the USC’s SPPD research team in the action research project. Authors are Terry L. Cooper, Jack W. Meek and Pradeep Kathi.
(For further information contact Jack W. Meek)

Assessing Civic Capacity in Los Angeles

The report represents one of several recent findings of seven-year effort conducted by the USC Neighborhood Participation Project (NPP) at the School of Policy Planning and Development at USC. In these seven years, NPP has provided valuable foundational research on civic engagement that builds momentum toward a larger effort in the area of building civic capacity. The intent of the report is to inform stakeholders about the initial steps needed in the creation of strategic plan for the Civic Engagement Initiative. It is the goal of the CEI to enable further consideration for the creation of a Center for Citizen Engagement at SPPD/USC. This report represents part of a current effort in partnership with Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.