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Davenport Institute Research and Studies

Legitimate civic engagement goes far beyond public relations and information campaigns. However, effective decisions certainly require knowledge on the part of both governments and residents. The Davenport Institute seeks to equip local representatives, staff and residents to work together to develop innovative solutions to local questions. Research and publications are an important part of this process. In the resources below, you will find studies undertaken by the Davenport Institute as well as resources from other organizations involved in questions of civic engagement.

In addition you will find California-policy specific research conducted by Davenport Institute Fellows and School of Public Policy Faculty. These studies are designed to help residents of California make informed decisions on the local issues that affect their everyday lives.

Please explore the material published here and feel free to contact us with questions.

  Public Engagement in California 

One of the greatest obstacles to public engagement and collaboration is the "fear factor." While both local government officials and civic leaders desire better engagement and affirm that public involvement can help solve some key problems, public officials fear low-turnout and processes hijacked by the "usual subjects," while community leaders and the public fear that their participation won't make a real impact on decision-making.

These were some of the findings in two comprehensive, statewide surveys – "Testing the Waters", a survey of local officials, and "Beyond Business as Usual", a survey of community based organization leaders - undertaken by Public Agenda, in partnership with the Institute for Local Government and the Davenport Institute and commissioned by the James Irvine Foundation.

Read more about this here

Studies done:

Testing the Waters

  • This is the full report of a survey of 900 California local officials. The survey was undertaken between July 10 and August 23, 2012 and sought the perspective of elected and appointed officials on opportunities for and obstacles to public engagement in California. View the executive summary.

Beyond Business as Usual

  • This is the full report of a survey of 462 leaders of community-based organizations across California. The survey was undertaken between July 10 and August 23, 2012 and sought the perspective of civic leaders on opportunities for and obstacles to public engagement in California. View the executive summary.

Infographic: Public Engagement in California 

  • Here is a helpful infographic that provides a summary of the findings from both studies, including areas of common ground that may provide the basis for stronger civic engagement in California.

Making Public Participation Equitable: Recommendations for an Office of Civic Engagement in Los Angeles

  • Learn about the City of Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (EmpowerLA) is leading the exploratory process of establishing an Office of Civic Engagement.

 

  Case Studies

  Attitudes toward Public Engagement

  Engagement at the State Level

  Civic Health | In collaboration with National Conference on Citizenship

  Other Policy Research