My major area of interest, broadly defined, is urban politics. Born and raised in Brooklyn (which is still the 4th largest city!), I had an early education about urban areas that was shaped by some very practical activities – turning empty lots into playgrounds, keeping the hand ball court for hours, dodging traffic, and learning the subway lines. Over the years, this practical education morphed into a concern with issues of housing and community development, neighborhood politics and community organizations, political leadership and urban public policy, and, most recently, preserving education as a public good. While researching and writing on these topics, my fixation with the practical persisted.
In 1997, I started the University Community Collaborative (formerly, the UCCP) in an effort to leverage some of the research and pedagogical expertise of the university for larger community ends. With a focus on youth leadership development, social justice, and community building, the Collaborative conducts direct programming, capacity building at the organizational and individual levels, and applied research activities in collaboration with community based and other nonprofit organizations. Working with some very talented, creative, and committed community leaders and young people prompted me to think more deeply and systematically about the university’s role in the community, about civic engagement as a tool for political empowerment, and about pedagogical approaches to preparing young people to live in a democratic society. My approach is interdisciplinary, relying on works from the various social sciences, and it is heavily informed by the “view from the street.” I encourage you to check out our website www.UCCollab.org to see what is possible when these perspectives come together. Be forewarned, our work is positively contagious!