Our History

The Center's Origin

The Center was founded in 1969 with its origins deeply rooted in Temple University's Founder Russell Conwell’s vision of working people succeeding in higher education. The Center was originally named the Center for Community Studies, but because of negative connotations, the Center quickly became the Center for Social Policy and Community Development.  The name corresponded with a new way of viewing how Center activities were to be undertaken, and was born out of CSPCD Founder/Director Seymour J. Rosenthal’s experience with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The launch of the Center coincided with a dramatic national political event.  Richard Nixon resoundingly won his first election which marked the beginning of the end for the Great Society and New Deal programs. In the wake of Nixon’s election, the War on Poverty arrived at its demise and workforce development emerged to change dramatically the focus of national social policy.

Locally, confrontations and tensions between Temple University and the surrounding community were growing over the physical expansion of the University into North Philadelphia neighborhoods.  The Center’s Director, Seymour Rosenthal, participated in implementing the Charrette (a conflict resolution methodology) to bring agreement between the University and community interests.  Through this conflict, the Center emerged as a link between the interests of the community and the University.

Also coinciding with the origin of the Center, was the creation of the School of Social Administration at Temple University. While the Center was initially under the Office of the President, within several years the Center moved under the auspices of the School of Social Administration. The School of Social Administration was deemed to be the closest related program in terms of the mission of the Center.

The Center also had a brief tenure under the School of Business and Management before it eventually returned to the School of Social Administration (renamed the School of Social Work).   With recent restructuring with the university, the Center has also become an integrated part of the College of Public Health.

History of CSPCD's Programs

Professor Rosenthal along with his colleague, Professor William Perry, developed the Perenthal Planning Model, which was based on their combined experience within the Center and the School for Social Administration. This model became the core for the community development and planning sequence within the Master’s program of the School of Social Administration.

The Center made contributions in the areas of aging, mental health, public housing, child welfare, juvenile justice, violence prevention, child abuse and neglect, adult education, and provided training and technical assistance. The Center has developed workshops, classes, and conferences both nationally and internationally. The Center’s training has included working with various local government agencies and U.S. Departments, and resulted in the development of a series of staff training manuals and videos. The Center also designed and coordinated an Interdisciplinary Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program in Child Abuse and Neglect.

Under funding by the Department of Education, the Center planned and implemented violence prevention curriculum and leadership training programs for persons in neighborhoods with unusually high levels of violence.

The Center has also been influential in planning and impacting policies throughout the Commonwealth in regards to juvenile justice, child welfare, public housing, and aging. Interest in policies and issues related to aging culminated in the Center assisting in the development of initial proposals to create Temple University’s Institute on Aging.

The Center has been concerned with researching and evaluating programs so that they are better able to meet the real needs of targeted populations. The Center’s research and evaluation efforts have included: programs targeting the elderly; neighborhood organizing on drug and crime prevention (Weed and Seed); pregnancy prevention programming; programs servicing at risk children in schools; Welfare to Work programs; campaigns for increasing awareness of adoption services; and career education programs for youth. The Center has also conducted a city-wide needs assessment for the Mayor's Office of Community Services to identify the needs of low-income Philadelphians and to assist in the strategic planning efforts of city agencies.

The Center was the original publishers of the Professional Development: The International Journal of Continuing Education.  This journal provided a forum for national and international subscribers and authors to find out the most recent research and policy formulations for persons within the social work practice field.