Identifying Community Problems and community problem root cause analyses

question 1: Identifying Community Problems

Originally, the SWOT analysis was developed for business and industry, but it is now often used to assess communities. Once you identify the problem in your community, you then are asked to analyze it using a series of steps, ranging from thinking about the causes of the problem to choosing the best solution. As you do this, it is important to keep in mind that these exercises are best done in a community context, in which stakeholders have input and involvement.

Conduct a SWOT analysis to identify one problem in your community.

Apply the eight steps you discovered in the article “Analyzing Community Problem” to analyze the problem.

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 4 a brief description of one problem in your community, based on completing a SWOT analysis. Then provide an analysis of the community problem, using the eight steps from the Community Tool Box article.

question 2: Community Problem—Root Cause Analysis

For the first Discussion this week, you identified and analyzed a problem in your community. Now you are asked to take your analysis one step further and look at the root cause of the problem. Examining the root cause of a problem is a necessary step before determining how to effectively address the problem. Without determining the root cause of the problem, you may end up only addressing the symptoms, which is counterproductive in the long run. For instance, excess nitrogen in the Chesapeake Bay led to an increase in algae blooms, which compromised the habitat of aquatic life. Instead of trying to kill algae blooms (symptom), environmental scientists called for a reduction in vehicle emissions and chemical fertilizers (root causes) that contribute to excess nitrogen in the bay.

Talking to the community and encouraging direct public participation are two useful methods for analyzing the root cause of a problem. A diverse group of stakeholders with varying perspectives is more likely to uncover the source of the problem.

Reflect on the community problem you identified for the first Discussion this week. Think about the root cause and symptoms of the problem. Reflect on why it is important to focus on the root cause of the problem as opposed to the symptoms.

Post a brief description of a problem in your community. Then explain what you determine to be its root cause and symptoms. Finally explain why it is important to focus on the root cause of the problem as opposed to the symptoms. Be specific.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.



  • Laureate Education. (Producer). (2010). Analyzing community problems. Baltimore, MD: Author.

    Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 14 minutes.

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