CuSAG’s Ethnographically Informed Community and Culture Assessment Research Systems (EICCARS) provide technical assistance on the needs and resources of geographical communities, as well as other social systems such as ethnic groups, organizations and institutions, special populations (i.e., HIV positive individuals), household, family, and kinship systems, and non-kinship networks. (See materials on the EICCARS for more details on the brief methods discussed here.)

The Use of Ethnographic Research in Health Program Planning, Community Assessment, and Evaluation (October 2002)
CuSAG was asked to design and deliver a workshop on the use of ethnographic research in health program planning, community assessment, and evaluation for the faculty and students of Drexel University’s School of Public Health. Aside from the university students and faculty, various health professionals from organizations and other educational institutions in the city of Philadelphia also attended the half-day workshop.

The Ethnographic Overview of Independence National Park (1997-2002)
CuSAG was contracted by The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) to carry out an ethnographic overview and assessment (EOA) of Independence National Historical Park. CuSAG teams were asked to complete the following tasks and research activities:(1) situate the Park within its urban environment; (2) identify the ethnographic resources and the contemporary groups that have traditional associations with these resources; and (3) provide an extensive discussion that placed the information gathered from completing Tasks 1 and 2 within the context of the Park's planning documents and pending management decisions. The methods used by CuSAG in fulfilling these tasks were: (1) analysis of relevant statistical data of neighborhoods surrounding the Park, as well as the Park’s own documents and archives; (2) neighborhood windshield and walking tours; (4) organizing neighborhood data into community profiles; (5) creating data informed maps using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to situate items in and around the Park; (6) informal ethnographic interviews with residents and “key experts” with knowledge of neighborhoods, such as police officers and public service agency personnel; (7) observation of Park resources and their use by visitors; (8) informal ethnographic interviews with visitors and other persons encountered during observations of Park resources; (9) "shadow tours" with informal interviews of Park rangers and other interpreters of Park resources, including other Park personnel; (10) self-administered questionnaire mailed to representatives of contemporary groups having traditional association with INDE and/or its resources, as well as other organizations, which did not have traditional associations with the Park, but shared similar goals (i.e. national or ethnic historical and cultural preservation); and (11) assessing printed and electronic information about these organizations.

Project Design Training Workshop (March 2001)
CuSAG was asked by the United Negro College Fund’s HOPE AIDS Prevention Program to organize and deliver a workshop on Community Based Intervention Project Design to faculty representatives from 34 Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The Community Assessment Complement of the Urban African American Adolescent Female STD Risk Ethnography (1997-98)
CuSAG was contracted separately by an urban health department to complement the Urban African American Adolescent Female STD Risk Ethnography (the AFSRE) described at the top of this page. This work was done to place the data provided by the study participants in the environmental contexts of their residential neighborhoods. As required by the contract, the health department agreed to provide CuSAG with relevant statistical data for analysis, while CuSAG agreed to collect additional data on community characteristics and resources through windshield and walking tours of the neighborhoods, as well as informal, key informant, and ethnographic interviews. Health department outreach workers were trained by CuSAG to assist in this work. While CuSAG carried out its data collection activities, the health department failed to provide imperative statistical data. As such, it was difficult to provide a complete version of this report, although the analysis of the primary data collected by CuSAG for this community assessment were integrated in the final report of the AFSRE.

The Baltimore-Washington Urban Ethnography Project (March 1997)
CuSAG hosted a one-day national workshop to introduce the methods of the Ethnographically Informed Community and Cultural Assessment Research Systems (EICCARS) to professionals involved in community health and social programs.

The Ethnographic Component of the Liberty Health Systems Community Health Assessment (1995-1996)
In this project CuSAG provided consultation on designing and completing the data collection for a portion of a community health assessment planned by Liberty Health Systems, Inc. (LHS), a local hospital and its catchment (service) area in West Baltimore, Maryland. Data were collected in 14 different community profiles reflecting: (1) the demographic makeup of the 15 neighborhoods; (2) their socio-economic conditions, such as: (a) the educational and employment status of the residents; (b) the environmental conditions of these neighborhoods, including the level of crime; (c) the status of residents for key health indicators, health priorities, and access to health; and (3) resident perception of the quality of services provided by LHI, including their input regarding service program development. The data collection methods planned included: (1) the analysis of relevant statistical data; (2) “windshield” and “walking” observational tours of hospital facilities and neighborhoods; and (3) informal, focus group, and in-depth ethnographic interviews of neighborhood residents and LHS providers. Data were collected using all of these methods except provider focus group interviews (FGIs) One reason for the lack of provider FGIs was the abortion of the project as a result of the merger of Liberty Health Systems with another hospital in Baltimore. Unfortunately, as a part of this action, the data that were collected were never fully analyzed, and no final report was written.

An Ethnographic Assessment of the HUD Urban Redevelopment Project (1995)
CuSAG contracted with ABT Associates as part of a multi-city U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) project to assess sentiments of residents of urban public housing complexes that were about to be demolished by HUD. CuSAG was responsible for focusing on Lafayette Terrace in Baltimore, Maryland. The primary methods used during the course of research, included assessment of secondary public housing data, “windshield” and “walking” tours of Baltimore public housing units, and focus group interviews (FGIs) with LT residents.

Psychosocial Costs of Drug Trafficking (1990-91)
CuSAG provided consultation to the Research Triangle Institute, National Institutes of Drug Abuse (NIDA) in designing and implementing two neighborhood ethnographies in Washington, D.C. to explore how perception of psychosocial costs of drug trafficking differed in two neighborhoods. Although both neighborhoods have experienced high drug trafficking/crime, one of the neighborhoods experienced reduction in drug trafficking, while the other neighborhood showed an increase in this type of activities. The ethnography was part of a large multidisciplinary NIDA study of drug trafficking in the broader D.C. Metropolitan area (including parts of southern Maryland and Northern Virginia.) The methods used by CuSAG were in-depth ethnographic interviews, FGIs, and assessment of community needs.



CuSAG: The Cultural Systems Analysis Group
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