American Sociological Association

ASA Footnotes

A publication of the American Sociological AssociationASA News & Events
September/October 2017

Exciting New Community Action Research Initiative Grants

ASA is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 Community Action Research Initiative (CARI) grant awards. Both recipients are sociologists bringing social science knowledge, methods, and expertise to address community-identified issues and concerns. Each CARI recipient has proposed pro bono work partnering with a community organization or local public interest group. The principal investigators for the two CARI-funded projects are listed below, along with a brief description of their funded proposals.

Janet Lorenzen

Janet Lorenzen

Janet Lorenzen, Willamette University, for Strengthening Community Action on Climate Change: Applying Sociological Research to Legislative Strategies in Oregon

This project is already in its second stage, concentrating on climate action policies at the state level and continuing Lorenzen’s research in the study of processes of social change, strategic action, and framing. Between 2015 and 2017, Lorenzen and her team conducted 58 interviews about climate policy with Oregon legislators, state legislature staff members, professional lobbyists, and environmental group leaders. The ASA CARI Grant enables Lorenzen to hire two undergraduate research assistants to help code the interview data and co-author a report for the Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV)–her community partner organization. Participation in this project offers students hands-on research experience that resonates with their environmental concerns and career interests. The co-authored report for OLCV outlines recommendations for future tactics, strategic framing, and maintaining a strong coalition of groups including unions, rural environmental groups, and social/environmental justice groups. In the end, the report will serve as a resource to inform future legislative strategies on cap and trade, build OLCV’s capacity to address legislative setbacks, and find common ground with more moderate legislators. OLCV is a non-partisan organization whose goals include passing laws to protect Oregon’s environmental legacy and holding elected officials accountable for decisions that affect the environment.

Julia Waity

Julia Waity

Julia Waity, University of North Carolina-Wilmington, for Creating a Local Food Certification Program in the Greater Wilmington NC Region

This project’s overarching goal is to determine the wider feasibility of, and consumer desire for, a local food certification program in Greater Wilmington. There has been a push towards local food consumption across multiple sectors for its environmental and economic benefits to the local region, as well as health benefits for consumers. However, the definition of local food varies greatly and this discrepancy can lead to confusion among consumers as to the true source of their food. Waity’s team is nearing completion of the data collection phase (conducting interviews and focus groups) of their project. So far, they have been able to talk with consumers as well as chefs, farmers, and grocers about their views on a local food label. After finishing data collection, they will perform an analysis and write a report on their findings. They plan to present these findings at their region’s annual local food conference in February 2018, which is being co-organized with the partner organization for this project, the Cape Fear Food Council (CFFC). CFFC is a grassroots organization advocating for policies through collaborative efforts to strengthen the local food system.

Both investigators are using their awards to “address community-identified issues and concerns,” the goal of the CARI grants.

“None of this research would have been possible without the assistance from the CARI grant,” said Waity. “Not only has it given us the resources to undertake this research, but the fact that the project has received grant funding from a national organization has also given the project additional legitimacy and credibility.”