CaRDI Publications

CaRDI publications provide our readers with research-based information to help foster dialogue at the local, regional and state-level, and to inform public and private decision-making around critical community and economic development issues. Our publications are written by university faculty, state agency representatives, and CCE Educators, among other partners.

These publications are free for public reproduction with proper accreditation. For questions and comments about the CaRDI publications, please contact Jennifer Jensen at


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Improving University-Extension-Community Communication around Controversial Issues

Informed decision making
Oct 1, 2015
Research & Policy Brief / Issue 68 (download PDF)
By Robin M. Blakely-Armitage and David L. Kay, Cornell University

Every year, in every community, local officials deliberate and make decisions about schools, roads, budget or development priorities, zoning rights, and other issues that are important to their constituents. Elected and appointed officials in New York State communities are expected to be well-informed about the often complex and sometimes controversial issues their communities face.

At the same time, trust in most traditional institutions and sources of information, including government and higher education, has declined. Decision making processes at all levels—local, state, and national—have become increasingly polarized and contentious. While universities like Cornell offer valuable resources, given this context, how can university researchers and Extension educators help local leaders access, interpret, and utilize relevant information with which to address complex or controversial issues? Read more

Geographic patterns: Are NYS high school graduates “college & career ready”?

Jan 1, 2016
Issue No. 71 / New York Minute / January 2016
by Robin Blakely-Armitage and Jan Vink, Cornell University
In the November 2015 NY Minute, we compared Aspirational Performance Measures (APM) by various student characteristics in New York State (NYS). The use of APM is intended to assess college and career readiness – a measure that includes but supercedes achievement of a high school diploma. Read more

Conservation and Land Use: Linking Municipal Capacity and Biodiversity Outcomes

Conservation and land use Figure 1
Dec 16, 2015
Research & Policy Brief / Issue 70  (download PDF)

From zoning to wetland protection to decisions about  how to allocate land for open space or development, municipal governments make decisions that can significantly impact habitat and natural areas. The clear role of local decision makers in conserving biodiversity has led to calls for greater incorporation of ecology and conservation biology principles in local land use planning.

To educate and support decision makers in the 260 municipal governments of the biodiverse and populous Hudson River Estuary watershed, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (NYSDEC) Hudson River Estuary Program and Cornell University established the Conservation and Land Use Program in 2001. The extension program provides planning tools, training, and technical and financial assistance to municipal officials in the watershed.

It is important to understand how well this type of extension programming can influence municipal land use practices to achieve meaningful conservation outcomes. Using the Conservation and  Land Use Program as its focus, a recent study examined how conservation of habitat and natural areas is incorporated into land use planning by municipal officials who have participated in the program. Read more

Engaging Municipal Officials in Improving Natural Resource-Based Planning

Engaging Municipal Officials to Improve Natural Resource-Based Planning
Dec 1, 2015
Research & Policy Brief / Issue 69  (download PDF)
By Karen Strong [1], Laura Heady [1], Shorna Allred [2], Richard Stedman [2], and Caroline Tse [2]

New York State’s (NYS) Hudson River Estuary watershed contains many unique and high-quality ecological communities. Although the watershed is only 13.5% of NYS’s land area, 85% of the state’s bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species occur here [i]. Situated between New York City and Albany, the watershed is also home to nearly three million people. Population growth and sprawling development patterns have stressed the watershed’s natural systems [ii]. Land use planning is a key step toward balancing future growth and development with protection of natural resources. The responsibility for conservation and planning often falls to the watershed’s 260 towns, cities, and villages.

In 2001, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program partnered with Cornell University to address the key biodiversity threat of habitat loss and fragmentation not being met by existing laws and programs. With funding from the NYS Environmental Protection Fund [iii], extension staff at Cornell’s Department of Natural Resources developed a comprehensive outreach program called the Conservation and Land Use Program to help communities respond to the challenge of incorporating natural resource protections into land use decisions. Read more

Student characteristics: Are NYS high school graduates “college & career ready”?

NYS Public School Graduation Rates and APM, 2014/5 School Year, by student characteristics
Nov 1, 2015
Issue No. 70 / New York Minute / November 2015
by Jan Vink and Robin Blakely-Armitage, Cornell University
Graduating from high school is an achievement. But as societal and workforce needs change, traditional graduation requirements may not be sufficient preparation for college and/or the workforce as, analytical and collaborative demands have increased. New York State (NYS) recently created an aspirational Performance Measure (APM) intended to better assess college and career readiness by establishing a more rigorous standard for student achievement in English Language Arts and Math. Read more

Fertility Rates Vary by Age and Income in New York State, Regional Patterns

Fertility Rates by region and income group
Sep 1, 2015
Issue No. 69 / New York Minute / September 2015
by Robin Blakely-Armitage and Jan Vink, Cornell University

As highlighted in our last NY Minute (Issue 68/July 2015), the number and timing of births women experience varies according to their age and income level, among other factors. We reported these patterns and trends over the past decade for New York State as a whole. But distinct regional differences also exist across the state. Read more

Analyzing Online Reviews: New Tools for Evaluating Visitor Experiences

Evaluating visitor experiences in NYS parks
Aug 1, 2015
Research & Policy Brief / Issue 67  (download PDF)
By By Hari Prasad Udayapuram and Srinagesh Gavirneni, Cornell University

The New York State (NYS) park system consists of 214 parks and historic sites, over 2,000 miles of trails, 67 beaches, and 8,355 campsites. It attracts approximately 60 million visitors every year. The State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation is responsible for operating and maintaining the state park system, and one of its strategic priorities is to “Increase, Deepen, and Improve the Visitor Experience”. Visitor feedback is integral to achieving this objective, but traditional feedback methods – public meetings, web-based surveys and comment cards – are often tedious, expensive, and limited by low participation. Public online review platforms such as TripAdvisor, offer a large volume of visitor feedback that could vastly improve how NYS park managers and other community leaders concerned with tourism or business development currently understand and improve visitor experiences. Read more

Fertility Rates Vary by Age and Income in New York State, Trends over Time

Fertility Rates graphics
Jul 1, 2015
Issue No. 68 / New York Minute / July 2015
by Jan Vink and Robin Blakely-Armitage, Cornell University

The number and timing of births a women experience varies according to their age as well as their income level. In NYS, as across the United States, this variation can be quite striking. Low income is strongly correlated with births among teenagers and women in their 20s, while higher income is associated with delayed childbirth (until ages 30-40). For teenagers, the income effect is particularly apparent, with those in the bottom 20% income bracket experiencing fertility rates similar to middle income women in their early 20s and higher income women in their late 20s. Read more

An Opportunity to Make NY Smarter about Smart Growth

Sprawl image
Jun 1, 2015
Issue 66 / Research & Policy Brief / June 2015
By Russell Glynn and David Kay, Cornell University

Urban sprawl and its negative impacts have become a potent catalyst for new policy action—often termed “smart growth” policies—over the  last decade. At its worst, sprawl has drained urban and  village centers of key employment and retail opportunities while marginalizing the poor, degrading  farmland and open  space, and promoting growth in private vehicle use among those able to “buy in” to suburban living. New York State (NYS), arguably the creator of the development pattern now associated with the term, took decisive action against publicly subsidized sprawl with passage of the State Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Policy Act in 2010. Read more

NYS Communities and Changes to the American Community Survey

May 1, 2015
by Robin Blakely-Armitage and Jan Vink, Cornell University
In an effort to save money, the Census Bureau will eliminate its three-year American Community Survey (ACS) data program. The ACS is a survey that tracks changing economic and social conditions for a wide range of geographies, and communities and organizations use this data for grant writing, program valuation, and tracking general well-being. Data is collected on an on-going basis and tabulated for 1, 3, and 5 year periods. Up until the present, depending on population size, communities have had access to 1-year (communities 65,000+), 3-year (communities 20,000+), and 5-year tabulations (communities of all sizes). Access is more limited for smaller geographies because it takes a longer period to accumulate a sufficient sample size to produce statistically meaningful data. Read more