Special Theme: Research on Community Development Practice

Journal of the Community Development Society, July 2002 | Go to article overview

Special Theme: Research on Community Development Practice


This issue includes a set of papers that share the theme of research on community development practice. It is fitting that this second issue of the Journal of the Community Development Society under my editorship has this focus, following the first Special Issue on Community Development Theory that was nurtured under the special editorship of Ron Hustedde. My vision is that the purpose of the Journal is to contribute to both building the theoretical framework of community development and to researching and evaluating the practice of community development. Over the next few years. I intend to continue to encourage papers on both the theory and practice of community development, especially around key themes that define our field.

The papers in this issue were not specially solicited for their contribution to the theme of research on community development practice, but they happened to all be ready to publish at the same time and they all had this common focus. All the articles were strong research articles looking at community development practices in communities. However, I asked some of the authors to draw out and expand on the community development implications and actions at the core of their article, and I appreciate the willingness of the authors to do so.

Each of the excellent articles in this issue of the Journal report on research that demonstrates the contribution of different community development practices. The seven articles use very different research methodologies, and their statistical sophistication covers a wide range as well. However, the practices studied in this issue are at the core of the set of tools used by community developers to help make communities better places.

Farmer and his colleagues looked at social marketing as a strategy for community change in health organizations in Arkansas. Parisi and his colleagues constructed an innovative research program looking at the role of the impact of building community capacity and community efficacy for economic development. Hibbard and Karle examine community problem-solving capacity as a role in effective ecosystem restoration projects. Williams and Wade studied leadership development programs through university partnerships. Kellogg also shows how universities can contribute through a service-learning model. Inman, McCloud and Coupal examine growth management strategies and their role in managing urbanization in rural areas. Finally, Walzer and Merrett looks at New Generation Cooperatives, which are business ventures in which producers invest in a local commodity processing businesses. These articles evaluate and assess a multitude of different strategies and organizational methods that are used in some communities, and each article contributes to the research on what works and what does not work when community developers help communities reach their goals.

The practices of community development that are represented in these articles do not constitute a full vision of the toolbox of practical skills that community developers have and are honing. Over the next few years, I look forward to more articles that will push forward our knowledge of the effectiveness and potential of community development practice in rural and urban communities. …

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