UMass Boston

Mark Warren

Public Policy & Public Affairs
McCormack Hall Floor 03

Areas of Expertise

Community organizing, education reform, race and racial justice, faith-based initiatives


PhD, Sociology, Harvard University
MA, Sociology, Harvard University
BA, Social Studies, Harvard College

Additional Information

Professor Warren has been named one of UMass Boston's outstanding faculty.

Mark R. Warren is a sociologist concerned with the revitalization of American democratic and community life. He studies efforts to strengthen institutions that anchor low-income communities— schools, churches, and other community-based organizations—and to build broad-based alliances among these institutions and across race and social class. Mark studies and works with community and youth organizing groups seeking to promote equity and justice in education, community development, and civic engagement. He is committed to developing a new approach to scholarly work that is engaged and collaborative with practitioners and community and institutional leaders.

In 2015, Warren earned two prestigious fellowships that support his research on building an educational justice movement and organizing against the school-to-prison pipeline. With the College Board Fellowship to Advance Educational Excellence for Young Men of Color, he will spend the 2015-16 academic year in residence at the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute, a premier global center for African-American and African research at Harvard University. Recognizing past accomplishments and future promise, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship will also support this research which Warren expects to turn into his next book.

Mark is the author of several books, including Fire in the Heart: How white activists embrace racial justice (Oxford University Press) and Dry Bones Rattling: Community Building to Revitalize American Democracy (Princeton University Press), and is co-editor of a book on social capital-based strategies for combating poverty called Social Capital and Poor Communities (Russell Sage Foundation Press). Mark also published a lead article in the Harvard Educational Review on the relationship between community development and school improvement, entitled “Communities and Schools: A New View of Urban Education Reform.” He co-directed a large-scale study of community organizing efforts at school reform and educational justice in six localities across the country. The book from that project, A Match on Dry Grass: Community Organizing as a Catalyst for School Reform (Oxford University Press), was published in September 2011. His most recent book is “Lift Us Up, Don’t Push Us Out! Voices from the Frontlines of the Educational Justice Movement” and features essays by community leaders around the country discussing their experiences working for educational equity and building a movement around equal access for all.

Mark’s latest published article argues for the need to address racial and class inequities in public education through the building of a broad-based educational justice movement. He is currently studying the building of the movement against the school to prison pipeline. You can read about this work in his article Transforming Public Education: The Need for an Educational Justice Movement.

In addition to teaching courses on community organizing, education reform, and qualitative research methods, he mentors a large number of doctoral students who are interested in community organizing and education reform, the relationship between families, communities and schools, and the role of community activism in advancing social justice and institutional and policy change.

Mark is a national co-chair of the Urban Research Based Action Network (URBAN), which brings together scholars and community activists to promote collaborative research designed to advance community action. Mark was also the founding chair of the Boston node of URBAN.

Mark was the founding chairperson of a new Special Interest Group of the American Education Research Association on Community and Youth Organizing for Education Reform. Through this venue and others, he is working with a growing number of scholars to build a new field of research on the role of community organizing in education reform and to promote international scholarship on community organizing.

Mark was named the College Board Fellow to Advance Educational Excellence for Young Men of Color at the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University, and spent the year in residence at the Hutchins Center during 2015-2016. He was also named a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow for 2015-16.

Before coming to the University of Massachusetts Boston, Warren was an associate professor of education at Harvard University and an active member of the community at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research. Prior to holding that position, he was an associate professor of sociology at Fordham University, where he founded and directed the college’s service-learning program.

Teaching in the Public Policy PhD Program:

Sociological Perspectives on Public Policy and Social Justice
Practicum in Community-based Research