Mark Warren’s Community Organizing and Education Research Featured at Research Luncheon
December 14, 2012
McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies
On December 11, some two hundred and fifty faculty, staff, and administrators gathered in the Campus Center Ballroom for a celebration of research at UMass Boston.
After an opening musical interlude, speeches and slideshows from university officials in the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects on 2012 research accomplishments, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Public Affairs Mark Warren took the stage to share highlights of his community organizing and school reform project.
Warren joined the McCormack Graduate School faculty in September. A sociologist concerned with the revitalization of American democratic and community life, he studies efforts to strengthen institutions that anchor low-income communities— schools, congregations, and other community-based organizations—and to build broad-based alliances among these institutions and across race and social class. As he explains it, “I am interested in the development of educational and community leadership through involvement in multiracial political action as well as the outcomes of such efforts in fostering community development, social justice, and school transformation. And I am committed to using the results of scholarly research to promote equity in public policy and to advance democratic practice.”
Warren sees community organizing as a catalyst for school reform. At the recent luncheon, he highlighted the need for educational researchers to collaborate with teachers, parents and community organizers to create the kind of knowledge that can promote real change and improvement in schools serving low-income students. Calling it a “laboratory for big ideas”, Warren showcased a large collaborative he led involving seventeen researchers and community-based organizations working for educational justice in Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Mississippi, New York City, and San Jose.
This kind of community engaged scholarship is being advanced in a new network called the Urban Research Based Action Network (URBAN) of which Warren is a national co-chair. The purpose of the network is to bring together scholars across disciplinary lines with community based organizations to develop collaborative research projects to advance social justice and to create an infrastructure that will elevate and advance community-based scholarship in academia.
Warren announced the formation of a Boston node of URBAN in which local faculty members and community practitioners are crossing disciplines to launch joint research and evaluation projects and share them online, to support activist scholarship, to serve as a clearinghouse for connecting people, and to train and educate students, partners, and other researchers and community members.
In addition to UMass Boston, faculty participate from other educational institutions including Boston College, MIT, Northeastern, and Tufts University. Community collaborators include the Asian Breast Cancer Project, Boston Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Boston Parent Organizing Network, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Mass CAN, and Smart Growth Alliance. Warren’s departmental colleagues, Michael Johnson and Donna Haig Friedman, participate in the Urban Boston node as do John Saltmarsh and Patricia Kreuger Henny from the College of Education and Human Development and faculty from other UMass Boston colleges.
Because of Mark’s Warren’s leadership in this exciting work, Provost Winston Langley has asked Warren to serve as co-chair with John Saltmarsh of UMass Boston’s newly-formed URBAN Research Working Group. This alliance of faculty and staff researchers will work to support the university’s urban mission which is woven into the fabric of so many academic and research units on campus, including at the McCormack Graduate School. The group will also help graduate students find and do engaged urban research designed to advance relevant knowledge to understand and address the cultural, economic, social, and political needs of our communities.