New York Civic Health Report
New York Civic Health Index: Striding Forward
The Civic Health Index was produced by the Siena Research Institute (SRI) and the Siena Office of Academic Community Engagement in partnership with the State Commission on National and Community Service: the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) and New Yorkers Volunteer. The NCoC has produced national and state civic health assessments since 2006. The full report for 2011 can be found on the NCoC website here.
Civic health is a measure of the participation and engagement in communities and society. Healthy communities will benefit, and citizens in those communities will display social connectedness, trust in people and institutions, responsibility to address social needs, interest in current events, and participation in civic duties.
Based on multiple questions, SRI provides a score for New York on: Social, Trust, Responsibility, Information and Duty called the STRID index. The STRID Index allows for the understanding of civic health data through a conceptual framework that is useful for policy makers and community members. In short, in an ideal healthy community people would:
(S) Be very socially connected in a variety of ways to other members of the community,
(T) Trust other members of the community and social institutions,
(R) Actively participate in shared responsibility for addressing pressing social issues such as poverty, hunger, homelessness, etc.,
(I) Be informed about the issues, events and news in their community and region, and
(D) Perform civic duties such as voting, attending community meetings and events.
Each of the five components of the STRID Index is measured independently. Though each one represents an important specific part of the social life of healthy communities, all five are interrelated as multipliers of each other. For example, in communities that are very socially active, one would expect there to be more trust among community members. Likewise, in communities in which people do not remain informed, one would expect participation in civic responsibilities to decrease. This interrelationship is particularly important for policymakers to understand as they seek to incentivize higher rates of public participation to build civic health. Working to increase the level of trust that community members have in one another, in major social institutions and in the government can be approached, for example, through any of the other four indicators. Increasing the availability of information, increasing social connections, and increasing the level of participation in community activities can all yield higher levels of trust overall.
This year’s results were presented by Dr. Don Levy and Dr. Mathew Johnson at Siena College and sparked a discussion about how to improve New York’s civic health.