Eric Kasper

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Room ph: 505-995-4313 Cell: 612-229-8988
I completed a Master of Public Policy this May from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. My concentration combined global public policy, economic development, and community organizing. I also have a B.S. in physics from Texas A&M University. I lived in Iceland for a year, where I worked in an artificial intelligence lab, and I spent last summer in Istanbul.

1. What are your main interests? Feel free to include a "pie in the sky" big idea!

I am interested in the interplay between civic agency - the collective capacities of individuals to co-create outcomes and reshape social norms - and complex systems. I suspect there are profound insights to be gained about how to develop communities and empower people by considering communities as complex systems. I am interested in understanding how social capital - the capacity of a group to act which exists in the connections between members of the group - operates in communities and how it can be more effectively employed.

2. What sorts of expertise can you bring to the group?

I have training in community organizing: one-to-one relational meetings, power mapping, and learning circles. Additionally, I have limited experience with computational physics, artificial intelligence, and string theory.

3. What do you hope to get out of the CSSS?

I expect to meet many interesting people and share ideas with you. I also hope to discover how complex systems can be incorporated into my future work.

4. Do you have any possible projects in mind for the CSSS?

I have been researching how community-based organizations in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis can work together to more effectively engage at-risk young adult Somali refugees. Somali refugees make up approximately half of the neighborhood's population. Many of the young people have limited educational experience coupled with limited English language abilities, which puts this group of young people at risk for poverty, despondency and criminal activity. Leaders of the Somali community and other community leaders hope to engage this population in order to prevent violence in the neighborhood as well as build a new generation of productive, indigenous community leaders. I imaging a CSSS project in which the dynamics of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood are modeled and appropriate recommendations are derived for collaborative outcomes.