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By the (Young) People: Youth Participatory Budgeting in Cluj-Napoca

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As a democratic innovation involving deliberation and decision making, participatory budgeting (PB) often catalyzes powerful changes among individual participants and within their respective communities. Certain models of PB designate autonomous spaces for young people to determine how to spend a

As a democratic innovation involving deliberation and decision making, participatory budgeting (PB) often catalyzes powerful changes among individual participants and within their respective communities. Certain models of PB designate autonomous spaces for young people to determine how to spend a portion of a particular budget, typically that of a municipality or school. These processes of youth PB may address recent trends in the underrepresentation of youth in civic spaces. Following the initial launch of youth participatory budgeting (youth PB) in Cluj (Romania), I spent three weeks in Cluj conducting 45 semi-structured interviews with youth PB participants and one focus group with youth PB facilitators. This thesis explores two areas: (a) the main dynamics of the online Cluj youth PB process (team development and organization, themes of projects proposed and their intended impacts, and inclusion throughout the process) and (b) impact of youth PB on participants (participant learning, change, and empowerment). Main findings suggest that organized groups with ongoing projects dominated the youth PB process and that a majority of projects aspired to impact either all residents of Cluj or a specific youth group (e.g. young artists, young engineers), while very few projects intended to impact young people in Cluj broadly. More than 85% of participants reported feeling empowered by involvement in youth PB. Some differences in learning and change were found by gender, ethnicity, and age. Key recommendations for future iterations of this process include establishing deliberation between teams, encouraging informal group development, restructuring the voting process, and enhancing inclusion of ethnic minorities and migrants.

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2016-05

Does School Participatory Budgeting Increase Students’ Political Efficacy? Bandura’s “Sources,” Civic Pedagogy, and Education for Democracy

Does School Participatory Budgeting Increase Students’ Political Efficacy? Bandura’s “Sources,” Civic Pedagogy, and Education for Democracy

Description

Does school participatory budgeting (SPB) increase students’ political efficacy? SPB, which is implemented in thousands of schools around the world, is a democratic process of deliberation and decision-making in which students determine how to spend a portion of the school’s

Does school participatory budgeting (SPB) increase students’ political efficacy? SPB, which is implemented in thousands of schools around the world, is a democratic process of deliberation and decision-making in which students determine how to spend a portion of the school’s budget. We examined the impact of SPB on political efficacy in one middle school in Arizona. Our participants’ (n = 28) responses on survey items designed to measure self-perceived growth in political efficacy indicated a large effect size (Cohen’s d = 1.46), suggesting that SPB is an effective approach to civic pedagogy, with promising prospects for developing students’ political efficacy.

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2021-05-01

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Accomplishments and challenges of the round three federal empowerment zone program

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The Empowerment Zones were created in 1993 under Clinton's administration, demonstrating a commitment to solving tough socio-economic problems in distressed communities. The main objective associated with this program was economic recovery of distressed communities by creating jobs and providing various

The Empowerment Zones were created in 1993 under Clinton's administration, demonstrating a commitment to solving tough socio-economic problems in distressed communities. The main objective associated with this program was economic recovery of distressed communities by creating jobs and providing various services to the indigenous populations. The designation of the Empowerment Zones went in three rounds (1994, 1998, and 2001), and although the types and amounts of federal incentives varied across rounds, the four principles around which the program originated remain unchanged: strategic vision for change, community based partnerships, economic opportunity, and sustainable community development. Since its inception, the Empowerment Zones program has been implemented in 30 urban and 10 rural communities in 27 states across the U.S. Two central questions lead the research of this dissertation project: 1) What have been the main accomplishments of the round three federal Empowerment Zones program in Tucson? 2) What have been the main challenges of the round three federal Empowerment Zones program in Tucson? By using a case study research design and various techniques for data collection and analysis (including the program package Atlas.ti), this study examined the accomplishments and the challenges associated with the round three designated Empowerment Zone in Tucson. Evidence was collected from multiple sources, including 24 interviews, over 60 local newspaper articles, relevant documentation, annual performance reports, and other sources. The analysis reveals that the program's implementation in Tucson was strong in the beginning, but after two years, the earlier success started to fade quickly. The shortcomings of program design became evident during the implementation phase and further in the inability of the administration to collect relevant data to demonstrate the program's success. The consequences of the inability to provide data for program evaluation influenced the enthusiasm of the administrators and program partners, and weakened the political support. The reduction in the grant component contributed to overemphasis of the business development component thereby ignoring most community development aspects essential for the success of the program in Tucson. This study did not find evidence for the claim that round three of the empowerment zones program based on federal tax incentives contributes to the creation of new jobs and the attraction of new business in economically deprived communities in Tucson.

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2013

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Harnessing the impacts of schools: new insights for sustainable community development

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This dissertation explores the unique role schools play in contributing toward a sustainable future for their communities. This was undertaken by first conducting a thorough review and analysis of the literature on the current utilization of schools as agents of

This dissertation explores the unique role schools play in contributing toward a sustainable future for their communities. This was undertaken by first conducting a thorough review and analysis of the literature on the current utilization of schools as agents of sustainable development, along with an evaluation of schools engaging in this model around the United States. Following this, a framework was developed to aid in the assessment of school-community engagements from the perspective of social change. Sustainability problem solving tools were synthesized for use by schools and community stakeholders, and were tested in the case study of this dissertation. This case study combined methods from the fields of sustainable development, transition management, and social change to guide two schools in their attempts to increase community sustainability through addressing a shared sustainability problem: childhood obesity. The case study facilitated the creation of a sustainable vision for the Phoenix Metropolitan Area without childhood obesity, as well as strategic actions plans for each school to utilize as they move forward on addressing this challenge.

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2013

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Understanding states' failure in sustained innovation from the diffusion perspective: the empirical study of the diffusion of EFOIA in the US states

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It is now fashionable to seek innovation in the public sector. As routine government practices have failed to solve complex policy problems, innovation is increasingly seen as the key to establishing public faith in government agencies' ability to perform. However,

It is now fashionable to seek innovation in the public sector. As routine government practices have failed to solve complex policy problems, innovation is increasingly seen as the key to establishing public faith in government agencies' ability to perform. However, not surprisingly, governments have often failed to support and maintain innovation over time. The purpose of this study is to examine what accounts for sustained innovation in government transparency. This is an in-depth analysis of the diffusion of the Electronic Freedom of Information Act (EFOIA) across the US states from 1996 to 2013. With the theoretical basis of policy diffusion, this study measures the degree of innovation among states by the timing of adoption, and by the extent of implementation. The factors that influence states' adoption and implementation of EFOIA will be compared, thereby explaining why some early adopters failed to maintain the leader position in innovation in government transparency through the implementation phase. The study findings show that the failure of early adopters in sustained innovation is the result of the conditional nature of diffusion mechanisms (i.e. socialization and learning) which operate differently at the adoption and implementation stages of EFOIA. This study contributes to a better understanding of the role of the legal environment created by the federal government, and the relationships between state governments in sustaining innovation in government transparency.

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2014

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Why We Vote: Student Stories on Civic Engagement & Voting

Description

“Why We Vote” explores attitudes and rationales among college students regarding civic and voter engagement. The major tangible outcome of this project is a photo series displaying portraits of students paired with a short vignette about their voting or civic

“Why We Vote” explores attitudes and rationales among college students regarding civic and voter engagement. The major tangible outcome of this project is a photo series displaying portraits of students paired with a short vignette about their voting or civic engagement story. To diversify the series, we have engaged participants from a broad range of personal identities and civic engagement levels. We want to give visibility to the experiences of those who are commonly cast aside, especially in regard to civic and voting initiatives. Our project utilizes personal storytelling to spark dialogue about civic engagement,
particularly among the 18-24 age demographic. We chose to use storytelling as the primary medium for our project because it is a vehicle for empathy, a lacking component of modern civic life in the United States. It provokes students to think critically about how and why they engage in civic life and connect campus communities of students with common experiences. We are interested to see how our presence on campuses impacts the level and nature of their civic dialogue and how our findings are situated within our quantitative research.

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2020-05

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School Participatory Budgeting in Carson Junior High

Description

Participatory Budgeting (PB) can create changes within individuals and between them and their community. PB processes allow people to determine how to spend a portion of a particular budget (in the case of School PB, a portion of the school

Participatory Budgeting (PB) can create changes within individuals and between them and their community. PB processes allow people to determine how to spend a portion of a particular budget (in the case of School PB, a portion of the school budget). These processes help address the underrepresentation of youth in the realm of civics.

I spent time with the steering committee and teacher coordinator of school PB in Carson Junior High to explore the impact of school PB on students’ knowledge, skills, attitudes and practices in relation to civic engagement. In the study I used quantitative and qualitative components. The participants were unique in that they all had prior experience in civic engagement programs in Carson Junior High that were organized by the teacher coordinator of school PB.

The main findings suggest that the participants reported a significant amount of learning in civic knowledge. In comparison, their overall perceived growth in attitudes, practices and skills were much lower. School PB helped the participants in the steering committee to grow in different ways than their other civic engagement programs by providing them with knowledge about budgets, their school’s mechanisms and other students within their school. They also became more familiar with the democratic process of voting and more comfortable with public speaking and presenting.

Recommendations for future research on this process include compiling quantitative and qualitative data from a larger sample consisting of students who had prior civic engagement experience and students who didn’t, and students with different ethnicities from different grades. Another recommendation for future research is to conduct a longitudinal study following school PB participants to high school and beyond to explore long-term impacts.

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2019-05

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Citizenship Education Through Participatory Budgeting: The Case of Bioscience High School in Phoenix, Arizona

Description

Public participation in local decision-making processes has numerous purported benefits. Yet, realizing these benefits requires a citizenry that is able and willing to participate in meaningful ways. High schools are ideal venues for civic education but rarely teach local collective

Public participation in local decision-making processes has numerous purported benefits. Yet, realizing these benefits requires a citizenry that is able and willing to participate in meaningful ways. High schools are ideal venues for civic education but rarely teach local collective action, citizen engagement, and self-governance, focusing instead on personal responsibility, knowledge of political institutions, and information on electoral processes. This article reports on a citizenship education project in a high school in Phoenix, Arizona. The program engaged students from all grade levels in a participatory budgeting (PB) process – to our knowledge, the first School PB in the U.S. The study asked to what extent student engagement in PB contributed to democratic learning necessary to actively engage in public debates and decision-making processes. The findings suggest that deliberative processes that engage students in decision-making can develop civic competencies, and among available strategies, PB is particularly effective. The study also found that the impact of informal democratic learning through PB increases significantly when it is paired with formal learning in the classroom.

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2015

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Biology education in the age of global accountability: Exploring best instructional strategies and practices that promote academic excellence

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Abstract As we move forward in education reform in the globalized 21st century, the United States must visit new ways to teach science in high school classrooms. The goal of this investigation is to analyze the current research literature for

Abstract As we move forward in education reform in the globalized 21st century, the United States must visit new ways to teach science in high school classrooms. The goal of this investigation is to analyze the current research literature for the best and most promising teaching strategies and techniques in secondary education biology classrooms that promote academic excellence for all students. Looking at policy and school reform literature in science education to establish the context of the current system, the paper will not focus on the political as or systematic changes needed to ground an overall successful system. However, because of their inherent effect on the education system, the political aspects of education reform will be briefly addressed. The primary focus, by addressing the emphasis on standardization, inflexibility of instruction and lack of creativity specifically in high school biology classrooms, seeks to clarify small changes that can influence students' academic outcomes. The United States is performing on such a poor level in science and math proficiency that it cannot match students abroad and this is seen through test scores and the production of competent graduates. This investigation serves to organize literature from education researchers and showcase best and promising teaching and learning practices that catalyze academic excellence for all students in our pluralistic, democratic and complex schooling and societal contexts.

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2013-05

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An ethnographic case study of a school's engagement in a school-wide reform initiative

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Since the introduction of the common school in the United States (US), education has constantly been in a state of reform. Given the importance of student learning to the future state of our nation, it is important to understand how

Since the introduction of the common school in the United States (US), education has constantly been in a state of reform. Given the importance of student learning to the future state of our nation, it is important to understand how positive educational reform can be achieved. This ethnographic case study aims to try to understand how a reform effort works as an educational and a sociocultural process, and what the important contributing factors to actualizing school reform are, as well as the challenges of effective implementation. Specifically, this study focuses on a school-wide reform effort based upon Stephen Covey's Seven Habits (1989). Qualitative research methods were used to address the research questions in this study. The researcher drew upon interviews, observations, and artifact and field note collection to tell the story of an elementary school engaged in year three of a school-wide reform initiative from the viewpoint of 10 teachers involved. Three recurring themes emerged from the data. First, data indicate that school reform is most effective when a school culture is created that supports the activation of teacher voice, efficacy, and coparticipation. Second, time and support are factors impacting implementation. Third, teachers reported that the common language from the reform has impacted the culture of the school. The evolution of a school culture is not simple and is demonstrated in the different ways the teachers experience the reform. Questions of authenticity arise when the reform effort changes from a grassroots, bottom-up initiative to a more top-down, bureaucratized business model.

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2013