Transdisciplinary Areas of ExcellenceSustainable Communities


Collaboration grant awards

The following two projects have been awarded funds in 2014, provided by the Binghamton University Road Map through the Provost's Office and the Division of Research with the goal of encouraging faculty to develop collaborative projects that stimulate the advancement of new ideas that can build Binghamton University's expertise toward a national reputation in the area of sustainable communities. This competitive, peer-reviewed program is providing initial support for proposed long-term programs of collaborative research that have strong potential to attract external funding.

  • From Vulnerability to Resilience: Developing an Evidence-Based Partnership Model for Transforming Rural Schools

Rural schools struggle with disproportionately negative outcomes for financially disadvantaged students. Financially poor families often struggle with toxic stress where children grow up facing hardship that impacts their learning (Szanton, Gill, & Allen, 2005). Damage is caused by prolonged adversity without a supportive network of adults who teach coping (Shonkoff & Garner, 2012), but school personnel may not know how to respond to the physiological and behavioral impact of stress. Parental involvement in their children's education is crucial to academic success (Douglass, 2008) and strengthens relationships with school personnel, contributing to a supportive school culture (O'Donnell, Kirkner, Meyer-Adams, 2008). Poverty and the associated stressors, however, contribute to barriers for parents' engagement with their children's education (Rebell & Wolff, 2012).

This research, conducted in a rural school district, will (1) design and evaluate innovative adaptations of (a) a trauma-informed model and (b) a parent mentor program; and (2) examine the process of school integration of trauma-informed practices through a community-school-university partnership conducting community-based participatory research. Social research design and development methods will include formative and summative evaluation using quantitative and qualitative methods to assess impact, effectiveness, and inform development.

Principal investigators/departments: Lisa Blitz, Department of Social Work; Elizabeth Anderson, Graduate School of Education; Luann Kida, Department of Social Work; Youjung Lee, Department of Social Work; Marguerite Wilson, Department of Human Development; and Denise Yull, Department of Human Development

  • Mobile-Based Smart Service Platform for Personalized and Adaptive Learning

This research seeks to investigate and develop a mobile-based, educational, "smart service" platform to address the myriad of issues facing K-12 today, including challenges related to teaching to the common core standards, lack of coordination among teachers and service providers, behavioral and mental health issues, and lack of family engagement. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from computer engineering, education, and social work, will partner with Urban Tech, a non-profit educational technology firm, to conduct a needs assessment and focus groups, and also develop a prototype of the smart education platform. The project will be conducted in two phases; the first phase will involve unidisciplinary meetings between each of the social science investigators (education and social work) and their respective graduate students to identify teaching and learning gaps in academics, social and emotional learning, and mental health and behavioral issues, followed by interdisciplinary focus groups. In the second phase of the project, the computing engineer will convert an Internet-based Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) module to a mobile-based, dynamic service platform for personalized and adaptive learning. This project has the potential to transport the current educational system into the 21st century.

Principal investigators/departments: Zhanpeng Jin, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Candace Mulcahy, Graduate School of Education; Elizabeth Anderson, Graduate School of Education; and Cassandra Bransford, Department of Social Work

Last Updated: 9/11/14