Public Engagement

Ethnography and Digital Storytelling for Policy:

I’ve been experimenting with projects that explore how ethnography and digital storytelling can inform policy. These are some examples:

Workshop on Qualitative Methods for Policy Impact Evaluation

Diversity & Inclusion @UGA: Stories of Campus Life 

In 2018 I worked with a group of undergraduate and graduate student researchers to examine how students of color and first generation students navigate campus life and what “diversity” and “inclusion” mean at UGA. For this project we partnered with the Dr. Michelle Cook, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer, and Mr. Dominque Quarles, Director of Diversity and Inclusion in the Office of Institutional Diversity  at UGA. We used ethnographic interviews, observation, and visual methods to craft multi-media digital stories that revealed  the inequalities students experienced in navigating and  accessing campus resources, how “first-gen” students made sense of and experienced their relative “invisibility”, and how students of color claimed spaces on campus where they could feel safe and included.

These stories were presented to the Office of Institutional Diversity, and circulated among other stakeholders and decision-makes on campus. To view the stories students created check out Diversity and Inclusion at UGA: Stories of Campus Life hosted by the UGA DigLab.

Improving the Experience of Minority Business Owners in Providence, RI. 

In 2015 Jamie McPike and I led a group of undergraduate student researchers in a MetroLab Network project partnership with the City of Providence, Chief Policy & Innovation Officer, Nicole Pollock. The focus of this project was to leverage ethnographic research and digital storytelling for urban policy. For this Jamie and I developed an applied research and storytelling lab. The data and stories we produced were used by the Department of Innovation and the City Council to visualize the effects of gentrification, inform changes in the City’s business licensing process and enhance the City’s Start Up in a Day program, a unique user-driven initiative that makes it easier for minority small business owners to navigate the complicated system of starting a business. The qualitative data we gathered is also being used to tailor the City’s work in digitizing and improving the licensing and permitting experience.

The project received a grant for engaged scholarship from Brown University and was featured as a model data-driven, city-university partnership by the Sunlight Foundation. Jamie, Nicole and I have written about various aspects of the project including how cities and universities can establish better working dialogues, find the right balance for student involvement in these partnerships, and how policymakers can create more meaningful policy solutions through the use of ethnographic data in a series in The Huffginton Post.

Graizbord, D. Jamie McPike, Nicole Pollock. “Communicating Innovation: Why Cities and Universities Need a New Kind of Dialogue”. The Huffington Post. August 14, 2016.

Graizbord, D. Jamie McPike, Nicole Pollock. “Little Data, Big Solutions: How Cities and Universities Can Create More Meaningful and Equitable Policy”. The Huffington Post. September 5, 2016.

Graizbord, D. Jamie McPike, Nicole Pollock. “Engaging Students, Engaging Communities: How Students Enhance City-University Collaborations”. The Huffington Post. November 20, 2016.

Ethnography for Urban Planning: Southern Nevada Strong Initiative  

Baiocchi, G., D. Graizbord, J. Lotesta and M. Rodríguez-Muñiz. 2013. “Resilient Communities and Distressed Neighborhoods” Final Report for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Southern Nevada Strong Initiative.