School of Social Policy & Practice
Founded as one of the nation's earliest schools of social work in the United States, the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) has trained social work professionals for over 110 years. In the 21st century, its scope expanded to include public policy and nonprofit leadership as natural extensions of applied social research. Today, SP2 offers masters programs in social work, public policy, and nonprofit leadership; doctoral programs in social welfare and clinical social work, and a wide range of certificate programs and specializations. The school is home to several research centers, including the Center for Carceral Communities, the Center for Guaranteed Income Research, the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, the Center for Social Impact Strategy, the Center for Social Mobility and Prosperity, the Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice and Research, and the Ortner Center on Violence and Abuse. Faculty and graduate work is rooted in social justice, community care, and advancing equity-based policies worldwide.
PublicationCultural Ecology, Neighborhood Vitality, and Social Wellbeing—A Philadelphia Project(2013-12-01) Stern, Mark J; Seifert, Susan CFrom 2011 to 2013, SIAP with Reinvestment Fund undertook new research that featured development of multidimensional indexes of social wellbeing for the city of Philadelphia. This report presents the results of that collaboration. Chapter 1 documents construction of a neighborhood-based social wellbeing index for the city. Chapter 2 uses the social wellbeing index to analyze patterns of advantage and disadvantage in Philadelphia neighborhoods. Chapter 3 draws on SIAP's historical data to examine changes in Philadelphia's cultural ecology between 1997 and 2012. The summary highlights how the policy tool helps conceptualize and measure culture as a dimension of social wellbeing as well as a contributor to equitable communities. Publication“Natural” Cultural Districts: A Three-City Study—Report Summary(2013-02-01) Stern, Mark J; Seifert, Susan CThis summary of the full research report--"Natural" Cultural Districts: A Three-City Study (February 2013)--presents the rationale for the study as well as findings and implications for policy and research. Policy issues noted are: differential ecology of "natural" cultural districts; economic inequality and location advantage; and trends in the development and management of cultural space. Research questions noted are: change in neighborhood cultural ecology over time; new models of cultural production; displacement vs community revitalization; and reconnecting the arts with culture. PublicationCulture and Community Revitalization: A Framework for the Emerging Field of Culture-Based Neighborhood Revitalization(2011-08-01) Stern, Mark J; Seifert, Susan CThis summary flyer provides an overview of the publications produced as part of the Culture and Community Revitalization project. The SIAP - Reinvestment Fund collaboration was undertaken from 2006 to 2008 with support by the Rockefeller Foundation. http://repository.upenn.edu/siap_revitalization/ PublicationCultural Participation and Distributive Justice(2002-07-01) Stern, Mark J; Seifert, Susan CExpanding cultural participation has been an important goal of cultural policy, among both public and private policymakers, over the past half century. In its work with the Urban Institute from 1996 to 2006, the Arts and Culture Indicator Project (ACIP) took a unique approach to the issue in its emphasis on overcoming historically-based exclusion and giving voice to cultural expression by ethnic minorities and poor communities. This paper builds on ACIP’s approach, first, by making explicit the policy question--that is, what are the consequences of cultural expression for distributive justice? The authors then draw on SIAP research in Philadelphia to examine the ways in which different forms of cultural participation connect with indicators of social inequality. They found that much of mainstream cultural expression actually reinforces social inequality. However, two parts of the cultural sector—the “alternative” regional cultural sector and the community cultural sector—show more promise in providing resources for historically disenfranchised groups and marginal neighborhoods. The paper concludes that, if public support of cultural expression is justified on its promotion of social justice, these sectors would likely provide the best opportunities for addressing this goal. PublicationThe Dynamics of Cultural Participation: Metropolitan Philadelphia, 1996 - 2004(2005-10-01) Stern, Mark J; Seifert, Susan CThis paper uses data on over 800,000 cultural participants in 1996 and 2004 to examine changes in patterns of cultural participation over these years. The authors discover a consistent pattern in which areas of metropolitan Philadelphia with a large number of cultural organizations are those most likely to have high rates of participation. The connection between institutional presence and cultural engagement was one of SIAP’s first discoveries in the mid-1990s and remains one of its most durable findings. With respect to change over time, there were also unexpected findings. Participation became more tied to both social class and ethnic diversity. The authors explain this seeming paradox in the context of the “new urban reality”—as ethnic groups became more economically differentiated, high-income, ethnically diverse neighborhoods also became more common. These were now the neighborhoods with the highest rates of cultural participation. Another pattern uncovered in the 1990s—what SIAP called “alternative” participation that linked socially diverse audiences to newer, more experimental cultural production—seemed to wither over the decade. By 2004 the former “alternative” cultural organizations had participation patterns identical to those of more “mainstream” organizations, a trend attributed to the increasing market orientation within the cultural sector. PublicationMapping Arts-Based Social Inclusion: A Diversity of Ideas, Approaches, and Challenges(2011-01-01) Stern, Mark J; Seifert, Susan CThis summary matrix accompanies the full report, Arts-Based Social Inclusion: An Investigation of Existing Assets and Innovative Strategies to Engage Immigrant Communities in Philadelphia (September 2010). See Section 4, "Arts-based Social Inclusion--A Typology." PublicationCultural Participation and Civic Engagement In Five Philadelphia Neighborhoods(1998) Stern, Mark J; Seifert, Susan COne of SIAP's goals has been to examine the links that connect arts participation to other form of civic engagement. In previous papers, the team used a variety of perspectives--the location of organizations, levels of community participation, observation of behavior and physical traces, and levels of regional cultural participation--to examine this process. This paper uses a community participation survey conducted in five Philadelphia case study neighborhoods to examine links between community participation, community arts participation, and regional arts participation. This paper and other SIAP studies have found that the socio-economic status of a neighborhood is a consistent predictor of residents' level of participation. Yet, the paper also suggests that cultural participation is more complex than either the economic model or the cultural capital theory would predict. A neighborhood’s cultural infrastructure is a stronger predictor of participation than either income or education. Moreover, decisions about cultural participation are closely related to engagement in other types of community activities, such as schools, community groups, and social clubs. Thus neighborhood residents effectively function as connectors between arts and non-arts institutions. The paper documents a strong relationship between neighborhood cultural participation and other forms of community engagement. The fact that residents make connections that remain elusive for organizational leaders suggests an avenue for strengthening institutional networks. PublicationCultural Participation and Communities: The Role of Individual and Neighborhood Effects(2000-10-01) Stern, Mark J; Seifert, Susan CA challenge facing cultural policy studies has been to define an intellectual framework for understanding the significance of the arts in American society. Not surprisingly, in a nation as wedded to individualism as the U.S., the bulk of work has looked at the individual as the unit of analysis. Whether economic impact, arts education, or youth development--the total impact of the arts is viewed as the sum of many individual impacts. This individual bias is out of step with trends in the social sciences. Sociologists have devoted increased attention to the role of context—communities and networks—in influencing social phenomena. Poverty researchers, like William Julius Wilson, examine the role of social and spatial isolation on the problems of the poor. Robert Putnam argues that social networks are the critical mechanism through which social capital is developed. Other scholars, including Robert Sampson and Felton Earls, suggest that “collective efficacy”—whereby neighborhoods are transformed through development of social networks—is the critical element in understanding child outcomes ranging from physical health to cognitive development. The study of public participation in the arts is a perfect example of the focus on individuals to the exclusion of the social context. Surveys of public participation in the arts (SPPA), commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts since 1982, reinforce the individualistic bias and lack ecological information that would enable analysis of neighborhood effects. This paper seeks to right this balance. Using an enhanced version of the 1997 SPPA provided by NEA, it links information on individual respondents to information about the zip code in which the person lived. Using four American metropolitan areas—Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco—the paper finds neighborhood effects as strong as individual level variables in influencing frequency of cultural participation in eight types of cultural activities—museums, opera, jazz, classical music, ballet, other dance, plays, and musicals or music theater. PublicationCultural Organizations in the Network Society(1999-10-01) Seifert, Susan C; Stern, Mark JCommunity arts programs are embedded in a variety of social networks, including those with institutions, artists, and participants. This paper uses data on the institutional networks for four community arts programs to understand how these programs use social networks. The database for this paper was compiled from organizational reports on their institutional contacts as well as a review of documents and observation. The data were then geocoded and linked to the SIAP’s other organizational databases, including data on the presence of other types of social organizations in their neighborhood. Community arts organizations are under two—often contradictory—pressures. Efforts to “rationalize” their organizational structure often come in conflict with their commitment to serving and engaging communities and neighborhoods. As a result, organizations are forced to be strategic in their choices of contacts, pursuing those that further their interests while reducing those that might sap their resources. PublicationCulture and Urban Revitalization: A Harvest Document(2007-01-01) Stern, Mark J; Seifert, Susan CThis document provides an overview of the state-of-the-art literature on culture and urban revitalization. Part 2 places the creative sector in contemporary context with a discussion of three social dynamics: the “new urban reality”, the changing structure of the creative sector, and the emergence of transactional policy-making. Part 3 turns to the major dimensions of current literature on culture-based urban revitalization: the promise of the creative economy; culture’s role in building community capacity; and the negative consequences of culture-based development. Part 4 uses the critical synthesis afforded by the review of literature to propose a new model of a neighborhood-based creative economy. Part 5 concludes with a reflection on research gaps and implications for community development policy and practice. Here the authors postulate that U.S. cities have the potential to regenerate urban neighborhoods through culture-based strategies that combine wealth-creation and social justice—but only by digesting the lessons of past experience.