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.

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 44
  • Publication
    Culture’s Role in Community Revitalization in Philadelphia
    (2003-03-01) Stern, Mark J
    SIAP grew out of the belief that a better understanding of how the arts fit into urban social processes could provide a stronger foundation for policy making beyond a narrow focus on economic development. Its research to date can inform urban policy and community development strategies in several ways: highlight upcoming trends beyond “urban crisis”; measure the impacts of cultural engagement on urban neighborhoods; and document the mechanisms through which cultural sector works in urban communities. Thus the arts and culture are not marginal but rather are at the center of the new urban reality—characterized by a mix of decline and revitalization. Looking forward, SIAP wants to document how cultural engagement—along with other forms of community involvement—fit into an evolving “new civil society.”
  • Publication
    “Natural” Cultural Districts: A Three-City Study—Report Summary
    (2013-02-01) Stern, Mark J; Seifert, Susan C
    This 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.
  • Publication
    Culture and Community Revitalization: A Framework for the Emerging Field of Culture-Based Neighborhood Revitalization
    (2011-08-01) Stern, Mark J; Seifert, Susan C
    This 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.
  • Publication
    Arts In Place: Philadelphia's Cultural Landscape
    (2005-05-01) Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP)

    To inform the debate over costs vs benefits of arts-based development to neighborhood revitalization, Penn Urban Studies Program chose "arts in place" as the theme of its Third Annual Public Conversation Series 2003-04. This document is a synthesis of the narratives and insights gleaned from the series--eight events with 23 speakers over five months--to share with a wider audience. The report describes the models and theories about how the arts influence development raised in six site-based discussions. Lastly, the report presents themes and issues that cut across Philadelphia's cultural landscape aired during the culminating session and throughout the series.

  • Publication
    Mapping Arts-Based Social Inclusion: A Diversity of Ideas, Approaches, and Challenges
    (2011-01-01) Stern, Mark J; Seifert, Susan C
    This 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."
  • Publication
    Cultural Participation and Civic Engagement In Five Philadelphia Neighborhoods
    (1998) Stern, Mark J; Seifert, Susan C
    One 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.
  • Publication
    Cultural Participation and Communities: The Role of Individual and Neighborhood Effects
    (2000-10-01) Stern, Mark J; Seifert, Susan C
    A 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.
  • Publication
    Cultural Organizations in the Network Society
    (1999-10-01) Seifert, Susan C; Stern, Mark J
    Community 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.
  • Publication
    Culture and Urban Revitalization: A Harvest Document
    (2007-01-01) Stern, Mark J; Seifert, Susan C
    This 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.
  • Publication
    Culture Builds Community Evaluation: Summary Report
    (2002-01-01) Stern, Mark J; Seifert, Susan C
    In 1997 the William Penn Foundation undertook the Culture Builds Community (CBC) initiative as a way to link its commitments to urban communities and to the arts and culture in the Philadelphia region. The initiative eventually funded 29 programs involving 38 organizations to test a variety of strategies to expand cultural participation and strengthen community-based cultural organizations. Some organizations received core operating support while others were funded to undertake programs focused on expanding cultural opportunities, enhancing artistic quality, or fostering community-based collaborations with a focus on young people. The Foundation provided technical assistance as well as funding to CBC grantees, from June 1997 through February 2001, and awarded a grant to Penn’s Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP) to evaluate the initiative. SIAP's assessment had two objectives: (1) to provide a better understanding of the dynamics of the community cultural sector and (2) to determine whether CBC achieved its goals with respect to strengthening organizations, expanding cultural opportunities, and improving the role of cultural organizations in building community. This report presents the findings of that assessment. SIAP concludes that overall, at the end of the initiative, the region’s community cultural sector was much stronger than it had been three years earlier.