School News



  Projects Seek to Improve Communities

ABCD’s recent community-based research includes an evaluation of the nonprofit KaBoom!, which helps communities build playgrounds
ABCD’s recent community-based research includes an evaluation of the nonprofit KaBoom!, which helps communities build playgrounds.
Photo courtesy of KaBoom!


While each Asset-Based Community Institute (ABCD) project is different, all focus on what’s right with a community and how residents can improve it. Two new ABCD projects center on advancing schools in Chicago and health in Rochester, New York.

The Chicago project is studying the use of a “community-school connector” to build new partnerships that benefit both schools and their communities. “Communities that have working, successful schools are more vital,” says ABCD director John Kretzmann. “And research is clear that the more parent and community involvement there is in the school, the greater the chance of success for the students.”

A person in the connector role can make a difference for both partners, according to Kretzmann. For example, in one Chicago school being studied, outcomes include a student clean-up of the community, local internships for students and safety measures such as a community guards. ABCD researchers will disseminate their findings and materials nationwide later in the three-year project, which is funded by the Chicago Community Trust.

In Rochester, ABCD associate director Deborah Puntenney is assisting five community coalitions to “improve health from a grassroots perspective and to organize local
residents around community well-being.” Supported by a grant from the Greater Rochester Health Foundation, ABCD is helping community groups to build on community assets to encourage healthy behavior, safety and social engagement. After one year of the three-year project, new programs such as farmer’s markets and nutrition education are starting.

Another recent example of community-based research is Puntenney’s evaluation of KaBoom!, a national nonprofit that helps communities build playgrounds where safe play spaces are lacking. Site visits, interviews and surveys resulted in high ratings for KaBoom’s effect on community development and the quality of children’s play.

BACK TO TOP



Online Game and Art Exhibit Celebrate Darwin’s Birthday

BugHunt
The BugHunt online computer game simulates Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

An online computer game that mimics Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, created by professor Uri Wilensky and researcher Michael Novak, was officially launched on February 12 to celebrate Charles Darwin’s birthday.

The game, called BugHunt, was part of the festivities sponsored by the One Book One Northwestern project. BugHunt, which may be accessed here, allows multiple players to act as birds hunting for multicolored bugs in a poppy field or at the seashore. “BugHunt is ultimately intended for use in schools and museums,” says Wilensky.

Another highlight of the Darwin celebration was an art exhibit organized by doctoral student Camillia Matuk. The intent of the “Art of Evolution” display of multimedia by Northwestern students, faculty and staff was “to showcase the many ways that Darwin’s ideas have inspired a variety of branches of creative thought,” says Matuk.

BACK TO TOP



Intergenerational Exchange Pairs Undergrads and Older Adults

Students Kirsten Ambroze, Cari Shapiro and Matt Halvorson discuss the life stage of late adulthood with guests in their Adulthood and Aging class.
Students Kirsten Ambroze, Cari Shapiro and Matt Halvorson discuss the life stage of late adulthood with guests in their Adulthood and Aging class.

The seniors attending the “intergenerational exchange” in Regina Logan’s Adulthood and Aging class during fall quarter were not fourth-year students but older adults from diverse Chicago communities. Discussions with 27 older adults from Mather Lifeways communities gave undergraduates insight into the characteristics of late adulthood.

Logan, a research assistant professor, says, “The event was planned to make the research literature come alive.” Her undergraduate course starts with an exploration of adolescence and goes on to address the roles, tasks and events that occur at different stages of adult development. The students in the class had recently studied middle and late adulthood, including transitions such as retirement and grandparenthood. At other points in the course she presents panels of young parents, and students interview or survey adults at various other stages.

BACK TO TOP



New Option for Change Management Certificate Debuts

Beginning this spring, students outside the Chicago area have a way to complete coursework in the Master of Science in Learning and Organizational Change (MSLOC) program mainly off campus. MSLOC now offers an alternative schedule option for earning a Certificate in Strategic Change Management.

The new option features five courses that combine online learning with four campus visits of three to five days each. These courses provide students with a foundation in organizational change and develop new capabilities for leading change efforts within an organization. “It’s important for the MSLOC program to provide a variety of schedule options to help us maintain the rich diversity of student backgrounds and organizational experiences that is one of the program’s distinctions,” says associate director Jeff Merrell.

BACK TO TOP



Center for Talent Development Expands with New Options

Civic Education Project
The Civic Education Project is one of the Center for Talent Development programs offering a more compact schedule.

Three new options mark the latest growth for the Center for Talent Development (CTD), which serves gifted children and their families.

During the summer, the Center will have a new site in Palatine for its Leapfrog program for students completing preK through grade three. During the school year, the Saturday Enrichment Program for preK through high school now offers the Accelerated Weekend Experience, an option to take classes over a single weekend instead of weekly.

Similarly, the Civic Education Project, which provides service learning experiences for students in grades 7 to 12, is developing a new option for middle school students. In addition to its one- and three-week programs, a weekend experience based at University of Illinois-Chicago will include hands-on service learning activities.

BACK TO TOP



New Web Site Helps Cancer Patients Explore Fertility Preservation
A new educational web site, MyOncofertility.org, provides information, support and inspiration for young cancer patients on how to preserve fertility in the face of cancer treatments

A new educational web site, MyOncofertility.org, provides information, support and inspiration for young cancer patients on how to preserve fertility in the face of cancer treatments. School of Education and Social Policy faculty and staff developed the site with input from cancer fighters and cancer survivors.

MyOncofertility.org offers video testimonials, survivor stories and expert advice for cancer patients who wish to maintain their fertility. The site describes cancer treatments’ effects on fertility, the options available to preserve fertility and resources for talking with doctors about fertility concerns. “It’s a warm and friendly site because we knew this would be used during an emotionally fraught time,” says research assistant professor Kemi Jona.

BACK TO TOP



Seniors Launch Philanthropy Web Site

Seniors Jackson Froliklong and Matt Cynamon created a web site for charity fundraising, BeExtraordinary.org
Seniors Jackson Froliklong and Matt Cynamon created a web site for charity fundraising, BeExtraordinary.org.

It began with the idea of walking across the Great Wall to fundraise for charity, and it grew into an online tool anyone could use for philanthropy. Seniors Jackson Froliklong and Matt Cynamon, along with two friends, launched an innovative web site, www.BeExtraordinary.org, which allows users to raise funds for charities by posting challenges.

They intended “to create a platform that was engaging and use tools our generation is comfortable with,” says Froliklong. Students challenges have ranged from a winter swim in Lake Michigan to community service in Latin America — each for a charity. “You’re showing this cause is so important to you that it provides an incentive to give,” notes Cynamon. The students’ business plan for the web site won a top prize in a Northwestern entrepreneurship contest in 2007.
By Marilyn Sherman