News from the Institute for Social and Behavioral Sciences

What is the ISBS?

Founded in 1979, the Institute for Social and Behavioral Science promotes community oriented research throughout the social and behavioral science disciplines.  Located in UCF’s Department of Sociology, the Institute houses:

Survey Research Laboratory, with the capacity to do telephone and mail surveys and polls throughout the central Florida region and analyze Census data; and geographic information systems (GIS).

Center for Qualitative Methodologies, which specializes in focus group methods and in depth interviewing.

Center for Outreach and Public Service, which embodies the Institute’s commitment to social and human service agencies that serve the population of our community.

Institute faculty consult regularly with community agencies and groups on issues of program design and evaluation; survey research; data base design; data analysis; how to access

You may have already seen some of our work around Central Florida as we have partnered with the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce, Heart of Florida United Way,, Community Foundation of Central Florida, Orlando YMCA/YWCA, Florida Blood Centers, and UCF’s Metropolitan Center for Regional Studies to undertake the first ever inventory of social capital in the Central Florida Region.

What is social capital?

“Social capital” is a way of conceptualizing and measuring how connected people are to one another.  Just as economic capital is a measure of economic health, so is social capital a measure of the health of a community’s social fabric.  Social capital exists when people enjoy strong connections to family, friends, neighbors, and civic institutions.  Contemporarconcern about dwindling social capital in American communities derives from Robert Putnam’s work, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.

Central Florida leaders have taken on the task of planning for future growth, something you may have seen in the papers in the form of community  workshops titled “How shall we grow?”.

The ISBS Social Capital Survey was based on over 1,600 interviews with adults in the seven county Central Florida region, which includes Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Polk, Lake, Brevard and Volusia Counties.

ISBS Staff

Director: Dr. Jim Wright
Associate Director:  Dr. Jana Jasinski
Project Manager: Amy Donley