Civic Engagement Program

Helps professionals and officials build skills in, and nurture values of, public engagement and community-based research.

LiKEN internships & field learning opportunities

LiKEN welcomes interns and students looking for field experiences and action learning.  If you are a student or recent graduate looking for an opportunity for public service and civic engagement, please contact Julie Maldonado, LiKEN Director of Research.  We also regularly work with faculty who want to include civic engagement and field work in their courses.  If you might be interested in working on any of our projects, please get in touch with us.


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Agency Perspectives on Coal Reclamation

Project director:  Betsy Taylor

An exploration of the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Program established under Title IV of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 from the perspective of government officials in federal and state offices with mandates to administer the AML program responsibilities. Data was gathered through a survey of state AML officials, to understand their perspectives on reclamation projects with possible positive impact on local economic development, and data systems for documenting and aggregating information about reclamation activities and impacts. It seeks to learn from government officials what they understand to be important issues that the public needs to understand about the AML program. (Some data from this survey of government officials has been published in 2015 study, Eric Dixon and Kendall Bilbrey, “The Abandoned Mine Lands Program: A Policy Analysis for Central Appalachia and the Nation”).

Deliberative Dialogue for Success

Content Coming Soon

Final Report

Projects Under Development

  1. Socially responsible professional meetings:
    • Research project to scope best practices for public engagement as an integral part of the annual meetings of professional associations. One goal is to share diverse best practices for public engagement during the meetings.  A second goal is to share best practices for the ethical selection of hotels and meeting sites for professional meetings (considering labor, gender, race / ethnicity, LBGT, immigration, other human rights, social and environmental justice issues). Many associations have faced costly crises when conflicts over ethical issues such as labor, gay or immigration rights have led to dissension among members, or boycotted or low attendance meetings.
  2. Organizational Storytelling as Transformative Practice: Building a Bridge to Transparency and Accountability in Local Governance
    • As a group of community-based and justice-oriented scholars, the staff of LiKEN often think about storytelling in the context of giving voice to communities and citizens who have been disenfranchised or lack a voice. In the Civic Professionalism Program we are committed to understanding and breaking down the barriers encountered within government and expert communities-of-practice that contribute to siloed thinking, partisanship, organizational stagnation, and lack of transparency. We believe that the best way to counter marginalization and disenfranchisement of public voices is to ensure that those who work to implement rules and regulations and design policies and guidelines understand how to build more bridges, and break down barriers, within their own organizations and communities-of-practice.
    • This project will seek to identify, understand, and facilitate organizational change by collaborating with local government organizations (e.g., planning departments, energy and environment departments, public works departments, education departments, law enforcement departments, etc.) in creating a series of transformative “storytelling” sessions in a safe and open space. It will allow individuals a chance to share experiences and stories and then dive deeper and think more about which stories to tell and how to listen and how those stories impact those listening. Such introspective processes applied to storytelling have the potential to activate social-psychological transformation within individuals and organizations that could lead to systemic change and a greater openness to building more bridges. These sessions will be structured, facilitated, and documented with an emphasis on individual and group transformation to ensure that lessons learned and outcomes are “owned” by the collaborating organizations in order to build capacity within those organizations, and that the outcomes explicitly address how the organizations engage or do not engage civil society in their current work and steps they can take to become more transparent and accountable into the future.