Civic Engagement & Service Projects

This CSD Civic Service Research Fellows study develops an easy-to-use instrument that allows service and volunteer organizations to assess the impact of their programs. The instrument is developed with the aid of service and volunteer organizations within and outside the United Kingdom to ensure that the instrument is useful in different cultural, political, and social contexts.

CSD is partnered with the Brookings Institution (BI) on the Initiative on International Volunteering and Service to build knowledge on international service worldwide. BI aims to create avenues for meaningful participation in international volunteering and service, and to ensure long-lasting value for volunteers, as well as for sending and hosting organizations, communities, and countries. As a partner in this initiative, CSD is conducting impact research that builds knowledge on international service worldwide and will contribute to related policy analysis.
Several projects are part of this initiative:

Participants in AmeriCorps*VISTA Entrepreneur Corps are placed in organizations that aim to increase asset ownership among low-income groups. CSD collaborated with the Corporation for National and Community Service to assess the role of Entrepreneur Corps members in asset-building programs throughout the United States. We report findings regarding the asset-building activities of these members, and recommend performance measurement indicators based on effective asset-building.

This CSD Civic Service Research Fellows study tests a definition of intercultural competence and develops an instrument to measure and assess it. This project investigates the impact of international youth service programs on Swiss and British volunteers and on their Ecuadorian hosts using surveys and focus groups. Findings contribute important knowledge to the field of intercultural education regarding the identification, development, assessment, and impact on those involved.

CSD's work on civic engagement and service focuses on societal inclusion and ways to promote engagement across the life course. Our research includes investigations of youth service, international service, and service across the life course.

The project investigates voluntarism and civic service in Lesotho, including its goals and objectives, institutional contexts, programmatic forms, and connections to organizations in the United States. Findings show that informal and formal civic service traditions in Lesotho are primarily a response to social necessity, not an idealistic venture. Formal civic service has been largely facilitated by international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), although Lesotho NGOs have also facilitated on a limited basis.

CSD created the Civic Service Research Fellows Program to support innovative research on civic service in countries all over the world. The program has provided funding and training to a multi-national network of scholars and researchers, representing over 17 countries. Their research and scholarship contributes to a growing knowledge base on civic service worldwide, including research on service-learning, national, and international service. In some countries, such as Mongolia, this is the first known published research on civic service. The work of the Research Fellows is featured in the 2007 book, Civic Service Worldwide. View Research Fellows publications.

In partnership with OmniMed and Uganda Chartered HealthNet at Makerere University, CSD has helped to design a prospective randomized clinical trial measuring the impacts of volunteer-based health trainings on health-related behaviors, including antenatal care, latrine usage, specific illnesses, consultation with community health workers or health facilities, and vitamin and medication usage. The research is being conducted in the Mukono district in central Uganda. CSD has consulted on research design and instrumentation and will analyze and publish the findings.
Funding is provided by the Ford Foundation and the Washington University-Brookings Institution Academic Venture Fund.

This CSD Civic Service Research Fellows study will analyze and compare national policies regarding youth civic service in France, Italy, Czech Republic, and Poland. The goal of the analysis is to investigate how national frameworks expand international voluntary service opportunities for young people in the EU, and to what extent EU policies and legislative instruments can support this expansion. The study will develop case studies based on interviews with volunteers, government officials, and NGOs.

This project examines current challenges and emerging perspectives in international volunteerism in Asia. Evidence from the Asian region is scant compared with Europe and the Americas, yet there is increasing activity and new forms of partnerships. This project examined current research on volunteerism in the Asia region, conducted an online survey of IVS sending organizations to identify principal characteristics and assess challenges and strengths, and conducted qualitative field research in six countries (Japan, Singapore, India, China, the Philippines, and Vietnam) interviewing IVS organizations on the Asian-perspective on international volunteerism, and emerging trends.
This work was first presented at the International FORUM on Development Service's 2010 conference in Singapore. 
Funding is provided by the International FORUM on Development Service with additional assistance from the Singapore International Foundation.

This Civic Service Research Fellows study investigates the impact of service learning on environmental awareness and civic engagement among participants. The research focuses on several service-learning programs in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that promote environmental awareness. Surveys and in-depth interviews with participants address the impact of service learning, identify the factors affecting environmental performance, and explore the challenges of implementing service-learning programs on national and regional levels.

Experience Corps (EC) is an inter-generational tutoring program that places older adults in public schools to help students who have been identified as poor readers. CSD's research investigates the program's effects on participating students and on the older adults who provide the tutoring. Research on students is conducted at EC sites in Boston and New York; research on older adults is conducted in 18 cities with EC programs. Funding provided by Atlantic Philanthropies.

With the goal of developing a global research agenda on civic service, CSD conducted a comprehensive scan of civic service programs worldwide. This project assesses the forms, purposes, activities, servers, and operations of all civic service programs worldwide and gathers information on their prevalence and geographic distribution.

This project studies the impact of the service experience on participants in two programs for voluntary national service in Israel. Shlomit is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1993, which serves a cross section of Israeli society whose volunteers include Jewish and Arab men and women, religiously observant and secular, who have been excused from military service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) but wish to volunteer for civic service for periods of one to two years. The Jerusalem Municipal Department for Community Service fields approximately 220 volunteers per year in social welfare and educational NGOs in Jerusalem. The majority of the volunteers are ultra-orthodox Jewish women.

This project uses a quasi-experimental design involving two International Voluntary Service (IVS) programs (Cross-Cultural Solutions and World Teach) to determine which features have the greatest impact on volunteers, host organizations, and community outcomes. Research is being conducted in Peru and Costa Rica using matched comparison groups at each level. Methods include longitudinal surveys, in-depth interviews, and focus groups.

Funding provided by the Ford Foundation and the Brookings Institution and Washington University Academic Venture Fund.

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