“Collaboration in Civic Life,” Adam S. Levine, Cornell University

Event time: 
Wednesday, February 26, 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:15pm
Institution for Social and Policy Studies (PROS77 ), A002 See map
77 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 


Abstract: Poverty. Poor nutrition. Climate change. Mass incarceration. Low political engagement. Obesity. Lack of transportation. These problems, and many others, are complex and multi-dimensional. Collaborations between people who have diverse forms of knowledge, yet do not already know each other, are a vital way to generate creative new solutions. This includes informal collaborations in which people engage in a dynamic interaction that produces new ideas that neither would generate on his/her own. It may also include more formal collaborations in which they embark on a shared project that entails mutual ownership and accountability. Although we have many examples of collaborations that aim to ameliorate community and societal problems, we know less about when people choose to collaborate with those they do not know in the first place. In short, what factors influence the formation and success of these civic collaborations? These are the core questions of my current book project. I use data from a range of collaborations, including those between researchers and nonprofit practitioners, between volunteers and nonprofit practitioners, and between grant-makers and grantees. In this talk I’ll focus on the formation question, presenting multi-methods evidence from a comparative case study and a field experiment. The results deepen our theoretical understanding of collaboration in civic life, and also provide actionable guidance for potential collaborators as well as civic leaders.

Adam Seth Levine is an Associate Professor of Government at Cornell University. Many questions pique his interest and excitement. The top ones are: “When do ordinary citizens become engaged in civic and political life, and with what impact?” and “How can social science be useful to nonprofits seeking social change?” He is also the president and co-founder of research4impact, a nonprofit that fosters meaningful collaborations between researchers and practitioners. He applies the findings from his work on the usefulness of social science directly to research4impact along with publishing them in peer-reviewed journals.

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