Alumni Research Project
Art Keene and John Reiff, co-directors of the Community for Social Progress, formally known as the Citizen Scholars Program, are working with colleagues Rick Battistoni and Tania Mitchell on a research project exploring the experience of alumni from the UMass Community for Social Progress, the Providence College public service major, and the Stanford University Public Service Scholars Program. All three programs bring students together in cohorts to learn about and practice civic engagement together for longer than a semester—for a year at Stanford, for two years at UMass, and for up to four years at Providence College. All three programs have a developmental curriculum that builds as students move through it. All three programs have been in existence for over 10 years.
We are interested in learning what impact this kind of learning has on students as they move on through their lives. Stories we hear from individuals—like the stories posted on this website—suggest that the impact of their participation in a program like ours can be huge. We decided to explore our alums’ experience systematically and see what we could learn.
The project began with a set of open-ended interviews—10 interviews with randomly-selected alums from each of the three programs who had been out at least five years. The second phase, begun in Summer 2012, is a survey distributed to every alum for whom we can get contact information. The third phase will be a set of focus groups that allow alums from the three programs to meet together and help us interpret the data from the first two phases.
As we organize results from this study, we will present some of them here.