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"Innovative New Tools for Indentifying and Building Communities...."

Jonathan London, Director, UC Davis Center for Regional Change, UC Davis
Oct 23, 2014 from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM (America/Los_Angeles / UTC-700)
1130 K Street, Room LL3
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Innovative New Tools for Identifying and Building Communities of Opportunity: Lesson for Public Policy


Jonathan London

Director of UC Davis Center for Regional Change

Assistant Professor, Department of Human Ecology


Jonathan London is an educator, researcher, and community-builder with experience in participatory research, rural community development, and community engaged planning.

Jonathan holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Brown University; a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning; and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science Policy and Management from UC Berkeley.

As an Assistant Professor of Human and Community Development at UC Davis, Jonathan’s research addresses conflicts and collaboration in natural resource and environmental issues, with a particular emphasis on marginalized rural communities and environmental justice issues in the Central Valley and throughout California.  He has published in leading journals such as Antipode, Sociology Compass, Environmental Science and Policy, UCLA’s Journal of Environmental Law and Policy, Journal of Community Practice, Community Youth Development, Society and Natural Resources, and Community Development.

Jonathan also directs the UC Davis Center for Regional Change, which serves as a catalyst for multi-disciplinary research that informs efforts to build healthy, prosperous, equitable, and sustainable regions in California and beyond.


Chris Benner

Faculty Director, CRC Regional Opportunity Index

Professor, Department of Human Ecology


Dr. Chris Benner is a Professor of Community and Regional Development in the Department of Human Ecology, and Chair of the Geography Graduate Group, at the University of California, Davis.  His research examines the relationships between technological change, regional development, and the structure of economic opportunity, focusing on regional labor markets and the transformation of work and employment patterns. His applied policy work centers on workforce development policy, the structure, dynamics and evaluation of workforce intermediaries, and strategies for promoting regional equity.  Significant book publications include: Just Growth (2012, with Manuel Pastor) which helps uncover the subtle and detailed processes, policies and institutional arrangement that might help explain how certain regions around the country have been able to consistently link prosperity and inclusion; This Could Be The Start of Something Big (2009, with Manuel Pastor and Martha Matsuoka) which examines new regional movements around community development, policy initiatives, and social movement organizing; and Work in the New Economy (2002), an examination of the transformation of work and employment in the information economy, providing an original analysis of growing volatility in work demands and increasingly tenuous employment relations. Dr. Benner’s work has also included: evaluating workforce development programs for the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry and the Keystone Research Center; providing research and technical assistance to a wide-range of public, private and non-profit agencies, including the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, the California Energy Commission, the California Workforce Investment Board, the California Labor Federation, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the Food Chain Workers Alliance among others; analyzing regional development strategies for the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); and serving on technical advisory boards for the Urban Habitat Program (San Francisco), the Center for Policy Initiatives (San Diego) and the California Economic Strategy Panel, among others. He received his Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

Nancy Erbstein

Faculty Director, CRC Putting Youth on the Map

Assistant Research Professor, Department of Human Ecology

University of California, Davis


Dr. Nancy Erbstein is an Assistant Research Professor in the UC Davis Department of Human Ecology. Her work examines how communities and regions produce and disrupt disparities in youth well-being, with a particular focus on disparities associated with race/ethnicity, immigration and socio-economic status. Key ongoing projects focus on: (1) measuring geographic disparities in adolescent well-being, vulnerability, and opportunity, (2) unpacking the processes that help produce disparate youth opportunities and outcomes, (3) exploring neighborhood and regional scale approaches to changing youth conditions that integrate young people as mobilizers and knowledge-producers, and (4) strengthening campus-community translational work around youth well-being. She has evaluated school reform and youth development initiatives, provided research and technical assistance to a wide range of youth-focused agencies and philanthropies, and served on technical advisory committees of the Social Science Research Council, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.  She publishes in journals focused on youth development (e.g. New Directions in Youth Development), education (e.g. International Journal of Qualitative Research in Education, Association of Mexican American Educators Journal), public health (e.g. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved), community development (e.g. Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society, Children Youth and Environments) and methods (e.g. Journal of Child Indicators).

Nancy also brings significant experience in the areas of community youth development and youth leadership, as a founder and former co-director of Youth In Focus, a non-profit intermediary organization that supported youth-led research, evaluation and planning throughout California for over fifteen years. She holds BAs in Education and South Asian Studies from Brown University and an MA and Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley.


Public policies intended to improve the health and well-being of disadvantaged communities require the ability to identify their specific location and conditions. Two new data and mapping tools developed by the UC Davis Center for Regional Change, the Regional Opportunity Index and Putting Youth on the Map, offer policy makers, businesses, and community organizations this ability.

The Regional Opportunity Index integrates data on economic, education, health, environment, housing, transportation, civic life and other factors to guide public and private investments to build thriving communities and regions.  Putting Youth on the Map provides holistic place-based measures and is intended to help identify issues, mobilize action and hold decision-makers accountable for helping improve young people’s opportunities and outcomes.

This presentation will introduce these new tools and describe ways that leaders in public policy, planning, business, and advocacy sectors can use the tools to inform and inspire their work.




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