Dave Campbell

Position Title
Emeritus Specialist in Cooperative Extension

  • Community & Regional Development
2317 Hart Hall

Research Interests
• How public policy and community development processes interact at the local level, focusing on governance, civic engagement, and citizenship; 
• Community food systems;
• Collaboration in local youth, social service and workforce development networks;
• Evaluation of collaborative community initiatives; 
• Faith-based community organizing and initiatives.

New Book

Democracy’s Hidden Heroes: Fitting Policy to People and Place (Temple Press, 2024)

This book tells the story of the local public managers and nonprofit directors who work where bureaucratic hierarchies and community networks meet and often collide. These hidden heroes struggle to align universal rules and compliance demands with the unique circumstances facing their organizations and communities. 

Democracy’s Hidden Heroes recounts compelling stories of the workarounds, sidesteps, informal agreements, and grantor-grantee negotiations that help policy initiatives succeed as intended. The settings include schools, human services departments, workforce development agencies, and community-based organizations. The book explains why it is difficult, though necessary, to translate locally-attuned implementation dynamics into accountability metrics for distant funders. 

Drawing on 2,000 interviews, Campbell’s book is the culmination of decades talking to people who must reconcile bureaucratic and community cultures. Its grounded approach and balanced perspective brings fresh insight to the analysis of policy implementation, public management, and results accountability, while offering both cautionary advice and a hopeful prognosis.

KSQD Cutting Edge Episode #272: David Campbell Emeritus Professor of Cooperative Extension, UC Davis

Dave Campbell spent more than 30 years working at the intersection of public policy and community development processes.  In this episode, we have excerpts of a talk he gave in the Institute for Social Transformation on his 2024 book Democracy’s Hidden Heroes: Fitting Policy to People and Place This talk helps tell the story of local public managers and nonprofit directors working at the intersection of bureaucratic hierarchies and community networks, helping to show how these “hidden heroes” work to align universal rules and bureaucratic compliance demands with the local needs and unique circumstances of local communities and organizations. The workarounds, sidesteps and informal agreements pioneered by these leaders provide some inspiring examples of hidden, creative democratic practice.  


Select Publications

Campbell, David, and Pendleton, Dennis (2018). The University as Community Developer. In Agnes Kover-Van Til and Gabby Franger-Huhle, eds. University and Society: Interdependencies and Exchange. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Campbell, David, and Munden-Dixon, Kate (2018). On-Farm Food Loss: Farmer Perspectives on Food Waste. Journal of Extension, 56, 3; https://joe.org/joe/2018june/a5.php

Campbell, David. (2016). Small Faith-Related Organizations as Partners in Local Social Service Networks. Religions, 7, 57; doi:10.3390/rel7050057.

Campbell, D.C. (2015). Metis, craft, civic-mindedness: Essential attributes of democratic citizenship. Journal of the Community Development Society. 46(3), 198-211.

Feenstra, G. and Campbell, D. 2014. Local and Regional Food Systems, in Havery S. James, (ed), Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics, Springer Publishing, New York. IN PRESS.

Hess, D. & Campbell, D.C. (2014). Turning Cobwebs into Walls: The Causal Attribution Journal as a Tool to Combat Mission DriftAdministrative Theory & Praxis. 36, 3, 312-331.  

Benjamin, L. And Campbell, D. (2014). Programs Aren’t Everything. Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring 2014, pp. 42-47

Campbell, D. C., Carlisle-Cummins, I., & Feenstra, G. (2013). Community food systems: Strengthening the research-to-practice continuumJournal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. 3, 3, 121-138.

Campbell, D. 2012. Public Managers in Integrated Services Collaboratives: What Works is WorkaroundsPublic Administration Review, 72, 5, 721-730.

Campbell, D. 2011. Policy Workaround Stories are Valuable Evaluative Indicators: But Should They be Told? American Journal of Evaluation. Online publication April 26, DOI: 2011 1098214011405505.

Campbell, D. 2011. Reconsidering the Implementation Strategy in Faith-based Policy Initiatives. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 40: 130-148.

Campbell, D. 2010. Democratic Norms to Deliberative Forms: Managing Tools and Tradeoffs in Community-based Civic Engagement. Public Administration and Management, 15(1), 305-341.

Assessing the Effectiveness of Faith-based Programs: A Local Network Perspective. Chapter 12 in Faith-Based Social Services: Measures, Assessments, and Effectiveness, edited by Stephanie C. Bodie and Ram A. Cnaan, The Haworth Press, 2006 (with Eric Glunt).

Rethinking Welfare School-Attendance Policies. Social Service Review, 79(1), pp. 2-28, March 2005 (with Joan Wright).

Community Food Systems and the Work of Public Scholarship. In Scott J. Peters, Nicholas R. Jordan, Margaret Adamek, and Theodore R. Alter, eds., Engaging Campus and Community: The Practice of Public Scholarship in the State and Land-Grant University System. Dayton, Ohio: Kettering Foundation Press, 2005 (with Gail Feenstra).

Campbell, D. (2002). Outcomes assessment and the paradox of nonprofit accountabilityNonprofit Management & Leadership, 12(3), 243-259.

For more information on Dave Campbell's work please visit:

This website contains a link to numerous evaluation reports and other publications produced by the California Communities Program at UC Davis under Dr. Campbell's direction.

Dr. Campbell led a UC Davis research team that compiled a Community Food Systems Bibliography, which is available at http://www.sarep.ucdavis.edu/sfs/CFSresources.