Urban Issues

Championing Social Justice, Locally & Globally

polish ghetto

LAS has exceptional expertise in studying the global urban issues of the 21st century.  Our researchers examine, interpret, and offer new pathways to solve the world’s and our city’s most pressing social, cultural, and political problems. They address the powerful and often hidden connections between social, environmental, political and cultural forces that define our lives both globally and locally: the environment, poverty, social justice, urban violence, social media, immigration, education, domestic abuse, criminal justice reform, housing, and the rise of populism are among our strongest areas of investigation and concern.

We have award-winning faculty working on all forms of urban violence as well as understanding its causes and offering innovative solutions.  We are at the forefront of identifying and addressing environmental and ecological issues associated with urbanization and urban centers, exploring their historical, scientific, and sociological dimensions.  We are a leading center for research on issues of urban immigration, understanding this phenomenon and its implications from multiple perspectives; theoretical, ethical, political and practical. We have and will continue to move the needle on all issues within our community by connecting academic research with modern day lived experiences.

  • City Violence

    Violence, especially its causes, prevention, and treatments, is a critical problem in the Chicago microcosm that is likely to have parallels to other urban centers across the globe. Among the topics that directly address violence in the Chicago area, our researchers are actively studying long-term consequences of domestic abuse (Dr. Lisa Frohmann), prison policies (Dr. Beth Richie) and actions that feed the preschool-to-prison pipeline (Dr. Katherine Zinsser and Dr. Rachel Gordon), reform of criminal law and incarceration policies (Dr. Edna Erez), and gun safety (Dr. Alexandra Filindra).

  • Social & Mass Media

    Our Department of Communication specializes in social media policies and practices. Dr. Zizi Papacharissi and Dr. Sharon Meraz study the impact of social and mass media on particular political movements and outcomes. Dr. Papacharissi’s book, Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology, and Politics (Oxford University Press), was the winner of the National Communication Association Human Communication and Technology Division Best Book Award.

  • Diversity Issues

    Barbara Ransby, LAS distinguished professor of black studies, gender and women’s studies, and history, has been named to the Freedom Scholars, a select group of progressive academics who are at the “forefront of movements for economic and social justice.”  Ransby and 11 other members of the inaugural scholarly cohort will each receive $250,000 over two years as part of a $3 million investment in social and economic justice scholarship by the Marguerite Casey Foundation and the Group Health Foundation.

  • Art & Literary Expression

    Our humanities scholars make skillful use of art and literature to address and highlight problems, challenges, and potential solutions in today’s increasingly interconnected world. The Association of American Publishers announced that “The Deportation Machine: America’s Long History of Expelling Immigrants,” by Adam Goodman, UIC assistant professor of history and Latin American and Latino studies, is among the subject category winners for the 2021 PROSE Awards honoring the best scholarly works published in 2020. Goodman’s book, which traces the U.S. government’s efforts to expel immigrants over the past 140 years, earned recognition for its exceptional scholarship and significant contribution to the field of North American history within the humanities category.

  • Race & Identity

    The Racialized Body research cluster at LAS, led by Dr. Cynthia Blair (Department of African American Studies), analyzes race as an embodiment category. The research team examines how the ideas and definitions of race are manifested in the regulations and descriptions of the “body.” Dr. Nadine Naber (Gender and Women’s Studies) is leading the Diaspora Studies research cluster and authored the book on the changing perception of race for Arab Americans.

  • Residential Segregation

    Dr. Maria Krysan, Professor of Sociology, explores racial residential segregation and associated racial attitudes. Her award-winning book, Cycle of Segregation, outlines a new conceptual framework for understanding the causes of segregation in urban settings.