Assessing the Range and Nature of Concord and Conflict in Energy Infrastructure Sitings

Date: 1/1/2018 - 12/31/2019
Principal Researchers: Christopher M. Weible and Tanya Heikkila Student Researcher:Kyu-Dong Park, Sharon Smolinski, Jill Yordy and Jongeun You Location: United States Funding: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Among the key issues associated with energy production and transmission are conflicts among policy actors over the siting of infrastructure. Current research on conflicts around project siting tends to rely on small samples, or on public perceptions of highly contentious siting decisions, possibly constraining knowledge toward the most conflictual sitings and away from sitings marked by concord, and limiting understanding of the variation in types of interactions among policy actors involved in these decisions. The goal of this project is to provide a systematic analysis and explanation of the range of concord and conflict intensities and their sources, characteristics, and effects among policy actors involved in  the siting of solar, wind, and pipeline projects in the U.S. from 2013-2016.

This project will be guided by three objectives.

  • Objective 1. To understand the variation in intensity of policy conflict across solar, wind, and pipeline projects.
  • Objective 2. To provide conceptual and theoretical analysis about the factors that explain the variation in conflict intensity among policy actors using a new theoretical approach called the Policy Conflict Framework.
  • Objective 3. To assess the outputs and outcomes from episodes of concord and conflict related to energy infrastructure siting decisions and to draw practical lessons for practitioner audiences.

This project will proceed in three phases.

  • Phase 1: Identify approved siting of moderate to large scale solar, wind, and pipeline projects in the U.S. from 2013-2016.
  • Phase 2: Collect and analyze new media coverage and twitter posts to assess sources and characteristics of concord and conflict among policy actors per siting project.
  • Phase 3: Interview policy actors and analyze their positions and behaviors for 9 total approved projects (3 for solar, 3 for wind, and 3 for pipeline) that vary from low to high conflict

The expected outcomes of this project are to identify the attributes of the policy actors, the setting (e.g., community makeup) and characteristics of intensity of concord and conflict for the siting of solar, wind, and pipeline projects in the U.S. This information will be used in estimating the markings of concord and conflict of energy infrastructure projects and more effective governance and politics involving energy policy.

Contact Information: Chris Weible ( or Tanya Heikkila (

Organizational Network Analysis of the Baltimore Integration Project

Date: 1/1/2014 - 12/13/2016
Principal Researchers: Danielle Varda, Center on Network Science Location: Baltimore, MD Funding: Annie E. Casey Foundation

In coordination with the Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP) and the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF), the University of Colorado Denver Center on Network Science conducted an organizational network study to assess the ways in which the BIP partners collaborate with one another, as well as with local businesses, residents and community-based organizations. The two-year project identified how economic inclusion for local and minority businesses and low-income residents is being enhanced by the BIP network, where gaps exist in the work and areas where the BIP can strengthen the work.

More Information: More information Contact Information: Danielle Varda,

Social Network Analysis for Early Childhood Councils of Colorado

Date: 1/1/2012 - 12/13/2015
Principal Researchers: Danielle Varda, Center on Network Science; Darrin Hicks, University of Denver; Jodi Hardin, Civic Canopy Location: Colorado Funding: Colorado Trust, CO Department of Human Services, CO Department of Public Health and the Environment

The Early Childhood Councils in Colorado were legislated to support systems building and develop relationships that improve services and better coordinate resources for children and their families. As part of a Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) effort, a Social Network Analysis was conducted to identify system relationships and develop an evidence base for systems building efforts.

With support from the Colorado Department of Human Services, the Center on Network Science team met with Early Childhood Councils (ECC) in MIECHV (CDPEH) or Health Integration (CO Trust) funded communities to identify members of the early childhood system, develop a map of the “ideal” system, and participate in data collection to assess system relationships. The ECC Coordinator from each community served as the point of contact to coordinate a stakeholder meeting and administer a survey to ECC members. 

The survey combines the PARTNER survey with the Process Quality/Working Together survey already administered to the ECCs. Each community received a Personalized Coalition Evaluation/Assessment and recommendations for actions steps to engage in systems building.

More Information: More information Contact Information: Danielle Varda,

A Social Network Analysis and Qualitative Assessment of Partnerships for Million Hearts

Date: 1/1/2015 - 12/31/2017
Principal Researchers: Danielle Varda, Center on Network Science, and Malcolm Williams, RAND Corporation Others Involved: Kayleigh Newman, Center on Network Science; Michael Schooley, Ashley Marshall, Kincaid Lowe Beasley & Briana Lucido, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Location: Nationwide Funding: Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE); Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

In partnership with RAND, the conducted an organizational network evaluation of the Million Hearts network to (1) assess the partnership engagement process and the level and strength of interaction among partners in the Million Hearts Network; (2) assess changes in activities, policies, programs, or systems that have occurred as a result of the Million Hearts Network; (3) identify facilitators and barriers of public–private partnerships with the federal government; and (4) use the information developed through the above three aims to inform future partner efforts.

More Information: More information Contact Information: Danielle Varda,

Organizational Network Analysis of the Kids Count Grantee Network

Date: 1/1/2015 - 12/31/2016
Principal Researchers: Danielle Varda, Center on Network Science Others Involved: Rebecca Hofkes & Sara Sprong, Center on Network Science Christine Velez & Bridget Nuechterlein, University of Colorado Denver's The Evaluation Center Location: Nationwide Funding: Annie E. Casey Foundation

In partnership with KIDS COUNT, the University of Colorado Denver’s Center on Network Science and The Evaluation Center Team conducted an organizational network evaluation of the KIDS COUNT Grantee Network (KCGN) by (1) assessing the partnership engagement process and the level of communication among partners in the KCGN; (2) assessing changes in activities, policies, programs, or systems that have occurred as a result of the initiative; (3) identifying facilitators and barriers faced by members of the KCGN; and (4) used the information developed through this research to inform future partner efforts.

The KIDS COUNT Network consists of members from state-based child advocacy, nonprofit, and research organizations along with leadership from the Annie E Casey Foundation. In total, there are grantees in every US state, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, each who have developed partnerships at multiple levels throughout the state system. These networks of partners in each state are helping lawmakers, public agencies, and nonprofits understand the nation’s changing demographic profile to encourage more effective programs and policies. KIDS COUNT grantees are building strong relationships with stakeholders to move the discussion from data to larger social change and legislation.

More Information: More information Contact Information: Danielle Varda,

Strengthening the Carrying Capacity of Local Health and Social Service Agencies to Absorb Increased Hospital/Clinical Referrals

Date: 11/14/2017 - 11/14/2019
Principal Researchers: Associate Professor Danielle Varda, CU Denver School of Public Affairs Others Involved: Todd Ely (University of Colorado Denver), Katie Edwards (Nonprofit Centers Network), Rachel Graham (University of Kentucky), Malinda Mochizuki (Visible Network Labs) Student Researcher:Stephanie Bultema Advisory Board: Community partners include Serve Denton and The Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center Location: Denton, TX, and Sarasota, FL Funding: $92,660

As hospitals and clinics increase screenings for social determinants of health (SDOH), referrals to agencies that provide services to address these needs will also increase. However, questions remain about the ability of nonprofits and other “community resources” to absorb these increased referrals for services.

Using secondary data analysis, a review of existing capacity assessment models, and case studies of human service centers in Florida and Texas, researchers will develop and implement an approach for assessing the capacity of community social services organizations and their partners to absorb and meet the needs of referred clients.

Findings will lead to improvements in understanding the nonprofit sector’s ability to respond to growing demand, ultimately contributing to the long-term goal of strengthening cross-sector partnerships and integration of services and systems to improve health outcomes.

More Information: Strengthening the Carrying Capacity of Local Health and Social Service Agencies to Absorb Increased Hospital/Clinical Referrals Contact Information: Danielle Varda ( or Todd Ely (

A Comparative Diagnosis of Policy Conflicts: Examining Unconventional Oil and Gas Development across the US

Date: 9/1/2017 - 8/31/2020
Principal Researchers: Professors Tanya Heikkila and Christopher Weible, University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs Others Involved: Hongtao Yi, Associate Professor, John Glenn College of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University, and Ramiro Berardo, Associate Professor, School of Environmental and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University Student Researcher:Jennifer Kagan and Jill Yordy Funding: $319,476 - National Science Foundation

Every society experiences conflict associated with government policy-making. Such conflict affects the capacity of governments to address societal problems. Unconventional oil and gas development that uses hydraulic fracturing is one example of a contentious policy issue that is often associated with policy conflict.

However, knowledge of the sources, characteristics, and effects of policy conflict around these contentious issues remains underdeveloped. Additionally, while conflicts around oil and gas development appear to be intense and growing, not all oil and gas policy issues are conflictual and not all conflicts are intense or intractable.

Therefore, this project will explore differences across state-level policy decisions related to oil and gas development over the past decade, to provide an understanding of how different policy contexts influence the intensity of conflicts and their outcomes. Through this research, the proposed project will advance scientific knowledge about policy conflicts and benefit stakeholders of unconventional oil and gas development, individuals interested in understanding how to diagnose and navigate policy conflicts, and scholars interested in theoretical approaches to policy conflicts.

Using a new Policy Conflict Framework (PCF) as an analytical guide, the goal of the project will be to provide conceptual and theoretical clarification about the factors that explain the variation in policy conflict intensity across policy decisions, along with the expected effects of policy conflicts and policy decisions related to the governance of oil and gas development.

In doing so, the study will test newly developed hypotheses related to: 1) how the policy conflict setting affects the intensity of conflicts; 2) how the design of proposed policies affects the intensity of policy conflict; and 3) how the intensity of conflict affects the degree of changes found in proposed policies. The research will also examine the distribution of the intensity of policy conflicts, and evaluate processes and outputs of policy decisions related to policy conflicts.

The research methods involve identifying the population of all policy decisions around unconventional oil and gas development in state-level regulatory agencies and legislatures, and coding news media related to these policy decisions. Second, the research will take a sample from this population and use interviews, surveys, and institutional analyses of policy decisions to collect key indicators of the sources, characteristics, and effects of conflicts.

In applying the Policy Conflict Framework, this proposed project builds generalized and localized knowledge about policy conflicts.

Evaluate the Efficacy of Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs

Date: 1/1/2018 - 6/30/2020
Principal Researchers: Lonnie Schaible, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, CU Denver School of Public Affairs Others Involved: Lori Hughes, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, CU Denver School of Public Affairs; Stacey Bosick, Associate Professor of Sociology, CU Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Lauren McDonald, Professional Research Assistant in Sociology, University of Northern Colorado Student Researcher:Nazia Hasan, Stephanie Ames, Ilana Winchester and Jeanette Norman Location: Alamosa, Denver, Longmont and Pueblo Funding: $609,953

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion is a pre-trial diversion program that was originally developed in Seattle and seeks to enlist the assistance of police officers in identifying and diverting chronic low-level offenders in need of wrap-around social services to help them overcome issues leading to their involvement in crime and substance abuse.

In 2017, the Colorado legislature passed legislation to fund Colorado’s Officer of Behavioral Health to pilot and evaluate the LEAD programs in four communities. The four communities selected were: Alamosa, Denver, Longmont and Pueblo. Our team at CU Denver, an inter-disciplinary partnership between Sociology and Criminal Justice, was selected to evaluate the impact of the program across the four sites.

Of particular interest are the:

(1.) How officers exercise discretion in their decision to divert offenders, (2.) Whether participation in LEAD improves clients life satisfaction and functioning, and (3.) What if any benefit there is in LEAD vs. traditional processing through the criminal justice system.  

The research team has established baseline data collection protocols and is conducting preliminary analysis, and will begin conducting interviews with officers, clients and stakeholders this Spring.

Contact Information:
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