Wittenberg University’s Susan Hirt Hagen Center is celebrating the launch of its new community dashboard, Engage Springfield.
In an effort to further expand and focus Wittenberg’s partnership with and commitment to Springfield, and to provide hands-on learning experiences for students, the Engage Springfield Community Dashboard pulls together data from a variety of sources to provide a robust picture of Springfield and Clark County using commonly implemented metrics collected by public organizations.
Developed by Wittenberg Professor of Political Science Ed Hasecke with contributions from Wittenberg faculty and students, the goal of the Engage Springfield Community Dashboard is to make data about the community easily available to facilitate research, grant-writing, and goal-setting.
“Engage Springfield is a partnership between Wittenberg University and the greater Springfield community, and we seek to both engage Wittenberg and empower Springfield by making data accessible and understandable while making a stronger connection between the university and the town,” said Hasecke, Wittenberg class of 1997, who was recently appointed faculty director of the Hagen Center’s newly formed Research Institute.
Engage Springfield presents a variety of metrics related to community demographics, public health, education, safety, the economy, and the environment. Each indicator includes data measured over several years along with a comparison between Springfield, Clark County, Ohio, and the United States. The data tables can be downloaded and included in reports and grants. In addition, there is a short analysis of each indicator, putting into words the basic trend and answering other typical questions.
While making data available is an essential part of the website, “the goal is to be more than a source of data,” Hasecke said. “We want to encourage research that is focused on our community and engage students in this work. So many educational opportunities are created by exploring questions that are sparked from looking at data. We are excited about expanding opportunities and partnering with the community in research efforts. We are really grateful for all the community support that has made it possible for us to move forward on this project.”
“This project has been in the works for just about a year now,” said Stephanie McCuistion, administrative director of the Hagen Center. “Dr. Hasecke asked if I knew of a community project he could work on during a recent sabbatical. I turned to our community partners to provide ideas and the feedback we received was all about data. Our partners certainly helped us visualize from the beginning how Wittenberg might provide a useful resource like Engage Springfield. I am excited about the new ways in which Engage Springfield will bring together our students and faculty with members of the community.”
Launch events will take place on July 17 from 2-3 p.m. and July 18 from 9-10 a.m. in room 105 of the Joseph C. Shouvlin Center for Lifelong Learning. During these events, Hasecke and Hagen Center summer interns Jayson Nowak ’20 and Elena Dumm ’20 will present the dashboard and share initial findings. Nowak, a political science and psychology double major from Grover Hill, Ohio, and Dumm, a communication and music double major, from Shaker Heights, Ohio, have been working on the project and are helping to present the data and update the new website and dashboard that is now live at EngageSpringfield.org.
Those in attendance at the launch events will be asked to share expertise, unique knowledge, and provide valuable feedback to improve the dashboard.
“The launch events are an opportunity for us to receive community feedback on the dashboard,” McCuistion said. “Wittenberg intends to move forward building this initiative with partnership in mind. We want to be sure the metrics we include in the dashboard bring value in the Greater Springfield community. We hope to highlight the unique strengths of our city, and to use this resource to build on the positive momentum already underway.”