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Civically Engaged Youth in the Americas: On Engaging

This day-long event featured presentations by professors, youth organizers, politically active youth, and students. "Civically Engaged Youth in the Americas: A Three City Perspective - Chicago, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro" stems from a larger comparative study researching the role of youth in public spaces in each of their cities. The three themes of the colloquium include Becoming, Engaging, and Envisioning - here academics, youth organizers, and youth themselves speak on engaging youth in our communities.

Cathy J. Cohen, is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago which coordinates the Black Youth Project. Cohen is the author of the book The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics (University of Chicago Press, 1999) and the co-editor with Kathleen Jones and Joan Tronto of Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader (NYU, 1997). Her work has been published in numerous journals and edited volumes including the American Political Science Review, GLQ, NOMOS, and Social Text. Cohen is also editor with Frederick Harris of a new book series from Oxford Press entitled Transgressing Boundaries: Studies in Black Politics and Black Communities. Her general field of specialization is American politics, although her research interests include African-American politics, women and politics, lesbian and gay politics, and social movements.

Nilda Flóres-González is is an associate professor with a joint appointment in Sociology and Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She studies race and ethnicity, identity, youth, education and U.S. Latinos, and has three ongoing research projects:  (1) one project focuses on media discourses on inner-city schools, particularly on how the media criminalizes inner-city schools, school activists and students, and how these images shape public opinion and policy, (2) another project examines youth engagement in social justice, and (3) a third project focuses on the Immigrant Rights mobilizations of March 10 and May 1st in Chicago.  Her book, School Kids, Street Kids: Identity Development in Latino Students (2002) focuses on how kids construct identities in relation to school, how the school and its practices shape these identities, and how these identities influence educational outcomes. 

Michael Rodríguez Muñíz is a Graduate Student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is Co-Founder of Cafe Teatro Batey Urbano.

Brenan Smith has worked at the Mikva Challenge since 2005. She graduated from Grinnell College in 2000, and moved to Chicago and took a job working in a residential home for at-risk youth. Brenan returned to graduate school at the Jane Addams School of Social Work in 2003, and while there interned at UIC hospital in the psychiatric ward and in the Public Policy Department of Metropolitan Family Services. After receiving her MSW, Brenan began working at the Mikva Challenge, where she works, trains and assists teachers as they lead civic action projects with their students. Brenan also directs the Summer Government and Leadership Institute and After School Leadership Councils at three Chicago high schools.

Aquil Charlton is Founder of The Crib Collective.

Nawojka Lesinski is a political science Ph.D. candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her major field of study is Comparative Politics with an Urban Politics subfield. Regionally, she is interested in Latin America and has focused her studies on issues of democracy, participation, and civil society. She has also been working with the Latin American and Latino Studies Program in addition to working through the Department of Political Science at UIC.


Recorded Thursday, September 20, 2007 at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum.

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