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University-Community Intermediaries: Supporting Informed Decision-Making in a Polarized Context

University-Community Intermediaries

Supporting Informed Decision-Making in a Polarized Context  



Hatch Multi-State Project


  • John W. Sipple (PI), Associate Professor, Department of Development Sociology, & faculty co-Director, CaRDI, Cornell
  • David L. Kay (co-PI), Senior Extension Associate, CaRDI & Dept. of Development Sociology, Cornell
  • Robin M. Blakely-Armitage (co-PI), Senior Extension Associate, CaRDI & Dept. of Development Sociology, Cornell

On-campus collaborators

Members of Cornell Cooperative Extension Administration

Off-campus collaborators

  • Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations in our study counties
  • Gerald Benjamin, political scientist and Director, Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach, State University of New York, New Paltz;former Director of Center for NYS and Local Government Studies and the Rockefeller Institute of Government Research
  • Michael Dougherty, Extension Professor and Specialist, West Virginia University
  • Daniel Eades, Extension Specialist, West Virginia University
  • Charlie French, Extension Specialist/Associate Professor in Community and Economic Development, University of New Hampshire
  • Stephan Goetz, Director, Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development
  • Dan Kahan, Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law & Professor of Psychology, leader, Cultural Cognition Project, Yale University
  • Tim Kelsey, Professor of Agricultural Economics, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Community Development, Pennsylvania State University
  • Paul Lachapelle, Associate Professor  of  Political Science, Extension Community Development Specialist, Local Government Extension Training founder, Montana State University
  • Chris Plein, Professor of Public Administration and Eberly Family Professor for Outstanding Public Service, West Virginia University
  • Martin Shields, Director, Regional Economics Institute and Professor of Economics, Colorado State University
  • Karon Harden, National Association of Counties (NACO)

Project Description

The research base addressing the nature and effectiveness of engagement of university information and other resources by local policy/decision makers is thin. Too many faculty, Extension and outreach efforts involving local officials are based by default on localized experience and ad hoc “learning by doing”. While many such efforts are successful and important, the thin research base on which they rest is at odds with fundamental principles for university education and outreach. Supporting local decision-making with the best available research and evidence-based knowledge, and increasing the return on investment in research and outreach are key proposal goals. More systematic, cumulative attention to research on this topic by a multistate community of researcher-practitioners will strengthen the relation between the Academy and local policy decisions. Our proposal, based on a research design which include a series of primary data collection methods and multi-iterative network analyses, will provide new mechanisms and strengthen shared research-based understandings to enhance the capacity of intermediaries, and to more systematically leverage their work.