Interview with Mark Warren, MGS Education Policy Specialist
May 08, 2012
McCormack Graduate School
Joining the Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs this summer from Harvard Graduate School of Education, Associate Professor Mark Warren conducts research closely aligned with our college mission.
He is a sociologist whose research seeks "to advance democratic practice and social justice." Warren's teaching and research focus on multiracial political action fostering leadership and community development, social justice, and school transformation.
He is the author of several books and plays a leadership role in the American Educational Research Association's Special Interest Group on Grassroots Community and Youth Organizing.
In a recent interview, we learn more about Warren, his collaborative style, and what has contributed to his success as a scholar/leader.
What excites you most about taking on this job?
I’m excited about joining a school of public policy where faculty and students examine the whole range of issues facing low-income communities. My research and teaching agenda is about making connections and crafting solutions to address multiple issues at the same time. For example, public schools need to do much better to improve education for low-income students but they can't succeed on their own. We need to address the issues of housing, health, poverty, and race that profoundly affect children's ability to learn. These all need to be part of a united, integrated vision and set of policies and practices where educators can work with parents, community developers and public health professionals among others.
I’m also excited about the location and mission of our school. At McCormack Graduate School, we collaborate with community-based organizations and community leaders. We cross boundaries that divide communities to find solutions at the local, state, national — even global — levels. It is only by working simultaneously at all these levels that we can forge the innovative solutions we need.
What keeps you enthused about your research?
The relationships I form. I enjoy the relationships I form with graduate students who want to make a difference, who want to use their education and knowledge to serve and to improve conditions in people’s lives. I enjoy the relationships I form with faculty who share the same values of rigorous and relevant research in pursuit of a social justice agenda. I enjoy the relationships I build with community-based organizations working on the whole range of issues facing low-income communities and who are trying to build a rich and participatory democratic life.
How do you see your work shaping public policy?
All of my work has at its core the idea that the people most affected need to have a voice and direct participation in shaping their own future. We need to find ways for communities to work with public institutions and hold public officials accountable. The grassroots piece is often missing. We need to focus on how to engage communities so that its members participate and have a say in determining equitable and effective policy solutions.
What is the #1 skill or practice that has contributed to your success?
My ability to work with people. I do not work alone. I build collaborations with students, faculty, and communities. I develop relationships and try to operate as a scholar/organizer or scholar/leader to bring people together.
When you are not working, what do you do for fun?
Spending time with family is the most important thing in my life. I like to go to musical and dance performances, to plays, and to the movies with my wife and two daughters. I also enjoy gardening. I cook a lot and enjoy eating too!