Addressing Policy Dilemmas with Community Based Research and Assessing Student Outcomes

Fernando Cázares
Laura Nichols, Santa Clara University
Angelica Rodriguez

Copyright © 2011 Stylus Publishing. Reprinted with permission.


This case study provides an opportunity for students to see the dilemmas involved in doing policy work and to see policy makers and politicians as real people trying to balance competing interests and concerns. In terms of community impact, the outcomes are more difficult to identify. The direct result was mainly educational, informing the public and stakeholders about what it is like to ride the bus each night for shelter. The stories from the riders also helped stakeholders move beyond their previous impasse to form positive working relationships and come together over the larger problem of homelessness, rather than just focus on bus riders. And as a result of connections made with city officials, a service-learning opportunity for students to do outreach with people who are unhoused and not using shelters has been created as well as a partnership between university researchers and community service providers who want more community-based assessment.