How to redemocratize the society one community at a time

via Missouri State University News

Barred windows, crumbling buildings, no safe green space for children to play, broken glass, barbed wire and hypodermic needles Ð this is the gritty picture Dr. Mike Stout paints of a rough neighborhood in North Philadelphia in the 1990s. Stout, associate professor of sociology at Missouri State University and director of the Center for Community Engagement, vividly remembers walking past this area as an undergraduate student. Now he works to empower people from all walks of life to have a voice. ÒIt taught me a lot Ð how just by virtue of the family I was born into and the community and neighborhood that I lived in Ð how I had certain advantages and opportunities growing up that a large number of people didnÕt have,Ó said Stout. HeÕs a pioneer in the research of social capital Ð the concept that some resources are accessed more readily through connections and trust with other individuals. Throughout his career, he has repeatedly seen that a more diverse group of social connections Ð including friends, neighbors and colleagues from a variety of backgrounds Ð opens up more opportunities and encourages feelings of efficacy for all involved. Checking out MissouriansÕ civic health Since 2010, a primary focus of research for Stout has been the production of the statewide Civic Health Index (the second was released in 2013, with another tentatively scheduled in 2016). This study looked at levels of participation in public forums, volunteer opportunities, neighborhood collaboration, voter registration, voter turnout and involvement in nonelectoral political activities. These factors reveal a picture of how engaged citizens are in their communities and how much they invest in making their communities better. [email protected][id=114jbcurl1403]@

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