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Department of Sociology News

City and Community Studies Initiative Awards Scholarships

Posted Jul. 18, 2011

On April 1, The Stone Tavern in downtown Kent became host to the City and Community Studies Initiative (CCSI) for their final event of the year – the Burning River Awards ceremony.

The City and Community Studies Initiative is a collaboration of Kent State University’s departments of Sociology, Political Science and Geography to support funded research on issues regarding communities in Northeast Ohio.

Assistant Professor of Sociology David Purcell, one of the founding members of CCSI and its assistant director, says the review committee is very pleased with the winning submissions and the awards.

“It’s one of the most rewarding things we’ve done in the past two years,” Purcell says.

The organization began as simple meetings between colleagues that blossomed into scholarly home for community and city interests on campus and a desire to engage with the broader Northeast Ohio community. One possible future goal of the organization is to create an urban studies major at Kent State University.

The awards give students a chance to present their research, answer questions from an audience and receive scholarship money totaling $500 for each award. CCSI and its awards are funded through the Center for Public Administration and Public Policy in addition to the departments of Sociology, Geography and Political Science. The money the students receive is intended to fund their research.

Chris Wallis, photojournalism major, and Dawn Einsel, magazine and photojournalism major, headed up a project for the photojournalism II class. They created a project titled “A Time to Share: Preserving the Voices of WWII.” The class’s final project was 20-minutes long, but they aired a 10-minute abridged version for the awards on a projection screen. It was composed of a combination of still photos and sound accompanied by text slides. Photos were taken by everyone in the class. The photos were of surviving World War II veterans, and the students interviewed them for their stories and to get a glimpse of how the war affected them.

From the Department of Geography, Derrin Smith, a master’s candidate, received a scholarship for his work on “Place Marketing and the Image of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.”  This project looked at Cleveland and Northeast Ohio through the eyes of media sources and Web forums and blogs. It analyzes how regional marketing organizations promote the image of the Cleveland Plus region to attract businesses, outside investment and tourism.

Doctoral candidate Amber Thorne-Hamilton, political science, earned a scholarship for her project “Cincinnati Collaborative: An Experiment in Deliberative Democracy in an Identity-Driven Conflict.” In 2001 after Cincinnati police attacked several unarmed black men, riots of protestation ensued. A collaborative agreement between the police and the community resulted after the police were found at fault by the U.S. Department of Justice. Thorne-Hamilton’s project analyzes how this hybrid system of city government is working.

Purcell says CCSI will begin accepting project proposals in the fall for next year’s Burning River Awards.
For more information on CCSI, visit