Public sociology is built into the fabric of the UIC sociology department. Not only do we study the world, but we actively engage in using our research-based evidence to increase the quality of life for the residents of Chicago, the state, the nation and the world. This kind of community engagement, often referred to within the discipline as public sociology, is consistent with UIC’s mission “to create knowledge that transforms our views of the world and, through sharing and application, transforms the world.”
The sociology department includes faculty who engage in this kind of work through:
- Formal appointments with the Institute of Government and Public Affairs
- Leadership in professional organizations that have public engagement as their mission (Council on Contemporary Families)
- Programming that blends research and public service (e.g., the use of film screenings to bring critical thinking skills and sociological perspectives to young women in detention centers)
- Developing and participating in programs and briefings for legislators and policymakers
- Disseminating research expertise and findings to nonprofits, community groups, advocates, local, state and federal government agencies, the criminal justice system, the courts, public housing authorities, etc.
- Regular appearances in print, radio, and television (including local, national and international outlets as varied as slate.com, WBEZ, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, BBC, and the like).
And our students get in on the action as well, conducting research that gets picked up by the media, non-profits, and others. There is also a team of graduate students working with Chicago Public School students who are enrolled in honors sociology courses. Our work in this regard was recognized in a 2013 ranking of the ‘return’ to Public Funding and Presence in the Public Media: UIC Sociology was ranked 2nd best among sociology departments in this analysis. This is empirical validation that we have developed one of the best public sociology departments in the country.