Using cross-curricular, problem-based learning to promote understanding of poverty in urban communities

Using cross-curricular, problem-based learning to promote understanding of poverty in urban communities
Journal of Social Work Education, 46(1), 147 – 156.

Gardner, D., Tuchman, E., & Hawkins, R.

This article describes the use of problem-based learning to teach students about the scope and consequences of urban poverty through an innovative cross-curricular project. We illustrate the process, goals, and tasks of the Community Assessment Project, which incorporates community-level assessment, collection and analysis of public data, and social policy analysis and planning. Students in three master's classes (Social Work Research I, Ending Poverty: Models for Social Change and Social Action, and Advanced Social Policy in Aging) worked in self-directed groups to explore the impact of economic insecurity on our most vulnerable clients. The project engaged students, linked research and policy practice, and helped to educate the next generation of social workers about urban poverty and strategies for community-based research and practice.

Hidden Talent: Tacit Skill Formation and Labor Market Incorporation of Latino Immigrants in the United States

Hidden Talent: Tacit Skill Formation and Labor Market Incorporation of Latino Immigrants in the United States
Journal of Planning Education and Research December 2010 vol. 30 no. 2 132-146

Iskander, Natasha and Nichola Lowe

This article examines informal training and skill development pathways of Latino immigrant construction workers in two different urban labor markets: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. We find that institutional differences across local labor markets not only shape how immigrants develop skills in specific places but also determine the localized obstacles they face in demonstrating and harnessing these skills for employment. To explain the role of local institutions in shaping differences in skill development experience and opportunities, we draw on the concept of tacit skill, a term that is rarely incorporated into studies of the labor market participation of less educated immigrants. We argue that innovative pathways that Latino immigrant workers have created to develop tacit skill can strengthen advocacy planning efforts aimed at improving employment opportunities and working conditions for marginalized workers, immigrant and nonimmigrant alike.

Urban Aging, Social Isolation, and Emergency Preparedness

Urban Aging, Social Isolation, and Emergency Preparedness
IFA Global Ageing Vol. 6 Issue 2, p39

Gusmano, M.K & Rodwin, V.G.

The article presents a review of an individual approach to emergency preparedness for socially isolated elderly city dwellers. It cites crisis instances highlighting older persons' vulnerability and the importance of neighborhood characteristics as the isolated elderly had reportedly higher mortality rates in poor neighborhoods and abandoned lots than in equally poor but more socially-connected neighborhoods. It suggests a population-based case management requiring information dissemination and outreach strategies for finding and assisting older persons.

The Rise and Fall of a Micro-Learning Region: Mexican Immigrants and Construction in Center-South Philadelphia

The Rise and Fall of a Micro-Learning Region: Mexican Immigrants and Construction in Center-South Philadelphia
2010. Environment and Planning A, Volume 42, Number 7

Iskander, Natasha, Nichola Lowe, and Christine Riordan

This paper documents the rise and fall of a micro-learning region in Philadelphia. The central actors in this region are undocumented Mexican immigrants who until recently were able to draw on the intensity of their workplace interactions and their heterodox knowledge to produce new and innovative building techniques in the city's residential construction. The new knowledge they developed was primarily tacit. More significantly, the learning practices through which immigrant workers developed skill and innovated new techniques were also heavily tacit. Because these practices were never made formal and were never made explicit, they remained invisible and difficult to defend. With the housing market collapse and subsequent decline in housing renovation in south-center region of Philadelphia, this tacit knowledge and the practices that gave it shape and significance, are no longer easily accessible. We draw on this case to demonstrate the importance of access to the political and economic resources to turn learning practices into visible structured institutions that protect knowledge and skill. Whether or not the practices that support knowledge development are themselves made explicit can determine whether the knowledge they produce becomes an innovation that is recognized and adopted or whether it remains confined to a set of ephemeral practices that exist only so long as they are being enacted.

Hospital Performance, the Local Economy, and the Local Workforce: Findings from a US National Longitudinal Study

Hospital Performance, the Local Economy, and the Local Workforce: Findings from a US National Longitudinal Study
PLoS Med 7(6): e1000297. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000297

Blustein, J., Borden, W.B., Valentine, M.


Background: Pay-for-performance is an increasingly popular approach to improving health care quality, and the US government will soon implement pay-for-performance in hospitals nationwide. Yet hospital capacity to perform (and

improve performance) likely depends on local resources. In this study, we quantify the association between hospital performance and local economic and human resources, and describe possible implications of pay-for-performance for socioeconomic equity.

Methods and Findings: We applied county-level measures of local economic and workforce resources to a national sample of US hospitals (n = 2,705), during the period 2004–2007. We analyzed performance for two common cardiac conditions (acute myocardial infarction [AMI] and heart failure [HF]), using process-of-care measures from the Hospital Quality Alliance [HQA], and isolated temporal trends and the contributions of individual resource dimensions on performance, using multivariable mixed models. Performance scores were translated into net scores for hospitals using the Performance Assessment Model, which has been suggested as a basis for reimbursement under Medicare’s ‘‘Value-Based Purchasing’’ program. Our analyses showed that hospital performance is substantially associated with local economic and workforce resources. For example, for HF in 2004, hospitals located in counties with longstanding poverty had mean HQA composite scores of 73.0, compared with a mean of 84.1 for hospitals in counties without longstanding poverty (p,0.001). Hospitals located in counties in the lowest quartile with respect to college graduates in the workforce had mean HQA composite scores of 76.7, compared with a mean of 86.2 for hospitals in the highest quartile (p,0.001). Performance on AMI measures showed similar patterns. Performance improved generally over the study period. Nevertheless, by 2007—4 years after public reporting began—hospitals in locationally disadvantaged areas still lagged behind their locationally advantaged counterparts. This lag translated into substantially lower net scores under the Performance Assessment Model for hospital reimbursement.

Conclusions: Hospital performance on clinical process measures is associated with the quantity and quality of local economic and human resources. Medicare’s hospital pay-for-performance program may exacerbate inequalities across regions, if implemented as currently proposed. Policymakers in the US and beyond may need to take into consideration the balance between greater efficiency through pay-for-performance and socioeconomic equity.

Please see later in the article for the Editors’ Summary.

Economic Development Impacts of High-speed Rail

Economic Development Impacts of High-speed Rail
RCWP 10-007 June, 2010

Levinson, David

High-speed rail lines have been built and proposed in numerous countries throughout the world. The advantages of such lines are a higher quality of service than competing modes (air, bus, auto, conventional rail), potentially faster point-to-point times depending on specific locations, faster
loading and unloading times, higher safety than some modes, and lower labor costs. The disadvantage primarily lies in higher fixed costs, potentially higher energy costs than some competing modes, and higher noise externalities. Whether the net benefits outweigh the net costs is an empirical question that awaits determination based on location specific factors, project costs, local demand, and network effects (depending on what else in the network exists). The optimal network design problem is hard (in the mathematical sense of hard, meaning optimal solutions are hard to find because of the combinatorics of the possible different network configurations), so heuristics and human judgment are used to design networks.


How to House the Homeless

How to House the Homeless
Russell Sage Foundation Press

Ellen, I.G. & O'Flaherty, B. (eds.).

How to House the Homeless, editors Ingrid Gould Ellen and Brendan O’Flaherty propose that the answers entail rethinking how housing markets operate and developing more efficient interventions in existing service programs. The book critically reassesses where we are now, analyzes the most promising policies and programs going forward, and offers a new agenda for future research. How to House the Homeless makes clear the inextricable link between homelessness and housing policy. Contributor Jill Khadduri reviews the current residential services system and housing subsidy programs. For the chronically homeless, she argues, a combination of assisted housing approaches can reach the greatest number of people and, specifically, an expanded Housing Choice Voucher system structured by location, income, and housing type can more efficiently reach people at-risk of becoming homeless and reduce time spent homeless. Robert Rosenheck examines the options available to homeless people with mental health problems and reviews the cost-effectiveness of five service models: system integration, supported housing, clinical case management, benefits outreach, and supported employment. He finds that only programs that subsidize housing make a noticeable dent in homelessness, and that no one program shows significant benefits in multiple domains of life. Contributor Sam Tsemberis assesses the development and cost-effectiveness of the Housing First program, which serves mentally ill homeless people in more than four hundred cities. He asserts that the program’s high housing retention rate and general effectiveness make it a viable candidate for replication across the country. Steven Raphael makes the case for a strong link between homelessness and local housing market regulations—which affect housing affordability—and shows that the problem is more prevalent in markets with stricter zoning laws. Finally, Brendan O’Flaherty bridges the theoretical gap between the worlds of public health and housing research, evaluating the pros and cons of subsidized housing programs and the economics at work in the rental housing market and home ownership. Ultimately, he suggests, the most viable strategies will serve as safety nets—“social insurance”—to reach people who are homeless now and to prevent homelessness in the future. It is crucial that the links between effective policy and the whole cycle of homelessness—life conditions, service systems, and housing markets—be made clear now. With a keen eye on the big picture of housing policy, How to House the Homeless shows what works and what doesn’t in reducing the numbers of homeless and reaching those most at risk.

Health Care in World Cities: New York, London and Paris

Health Care in World Cities: New York, London and Paris
Johns Hopkins University Press, April

Gusmano, M.K., Rodwin, V.G. & Weisz, D.

New York. London. Paris. Although these cities have similar sociodemographic characteristics, including income inequalities and ethic diversity, they have vastly different health systems and services. This book compares the three and considers lessons that can be applied to current and future debates about urban health care.

Highlighting the importance of a national policy for city health systems, the authors use well-established indicators and comparable data sources to shed light on urban health policy and practice. Their detailed comparison of the three city health systems and the national policy regimes in which they function provides information about access to health care in the developed world's largest cities.

The authors first review the current literature on comparative analysis of health systems and offer a brief overview of the public health infrastructure in each city. Later chapters illustrate how timely and appropriate disease prevention, primary care, and specialty health care services can help cities control such problems as premature mortality and heart disease.

In providing empirical comparisons of access to care in these three health systems, the authors refute inaccurate claims about health care outside of the United States.

Click here for a brief excerpt of the content.

Book review in Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law.


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