A Civil Society & Community Research graduate student explains his research poster to two onlookers.

Civil Society & Community Research

“In my work today, I understand the critical role of imagination, especially for those who have been historically impacted by oppression in the U.S. settler-colonial context.”

-Pascale Ife Williams, Human Ecology PhD, CSCR

Read Ife’s full story here.

Departmental Values

  • Strives for social justice, common good, and sustainability for current and future generations;
  • Elevates the power of those who are marginalized by various forms of oppression and dominant cultural norms;
  • Embraces the multitude of ways of knowing and being in the world;
  • Engages with the wider community in our work as researchers, teachers, and members of civil society;
  • Uses systems thinking, mixed methods, and community-engaged research approaches to gain a holistic and comprehensive understanding of community issues and how to address them;
  • Emphasizes positive youth development, asset-based evaluation and programming, and appreciative inquiry; and
  • Seeks to understand and honor the various ways people come together to effect policy and programmatic change in their communities.

Faculty Areas of Interest

  1. The Third Sector, or the realm of society encompassing nongovernmental nonprofit organizations, operates at all levels of society, from local to international and contributes to the health and well-being of society. Faculty study this area with a lens towards civil society, social innovation, public/social policy, evaluation, nonprofit leadership and structures. (Carolee Dodge Francis, Jen Gaddis, Carolina Sarmiento, and Cynthia Jasper)
  2. Indigenous EcoWell and Transnational Indigenous; We focus on community-based planning, gender-based inequality, injustice, and international migration. Research pays particularly strong attention to strengthening relationships with Wisconsin First Nations, First Nations across the United States, and global Indigenous communities through collaborations that concentrate on the well-being of children, youth, families, and communities (Kasey Keeler, Carolee Dodge Francis, Carolina Sarmiento, and Zoua Vang)
  3. Youth Engagement and Well Being; Researchers focus on working collaboratively with and among youth systems to create partnerships and decision-makers towards positive social change. Areas of focus relate to food justice in K-12, food systems change, criminal legal systems in school, and equitable places for students (Ben Fisher and Jen Gaddis)

Professional Skills

Our CSCR program is designed to train educators/scholars to be highly qualified for positions in research and teaching within universities, cooperative extension, community-based groups, foundations, and other nonprofit and non-governmental organizations. Specifically, CSCR students build a range of sought-after skills and abilities in:

  • Scholarship and research
  • Publishing
  • Teaching
  • Outreach and application
  • Professional development
Seven volunteers stand inside and around a structure made of tree saplings as they build a traditional Ho-Chunk dwelling called a Ciiporoke

Topics of Study

  • Community leadership
  • Community organizing
  • Program evaluation
  • Voluntary associations
  • Youth civic development
  • Adult learning
  • Community development
  • Social change

Program Contact

Graduate Program Staff

4199 Nancy Nicholas Hall



Graduate Program Committee Chair

Associate Professor Ben Fisher

4157 Nancy Nicholas Hall