URBAN Utah is the newest node of the national Urban Research-Based Action Network (URBAN). Founded in 2010, URBAN seeks to forge relationships between academics and community-based practitioners, break down silos among academic disciplines and issue areas, and create mechanisms to support community engaged scholars at all steps of their careers. URBAN’s work is rooted in critical approaches to community-based research and a commitment to advancing movements for justice and liberation. URBAN has held a series of national convenings, and spawned a family of geographic- and discipline-based nodes across the US.
URBAN Utah grew out of conversations among faculty, students, and community partners at the University of Utah in 2017. In the wake of the Trump presidency, participants saw a need for stronger collaboration among among activist scholars, organizers, and community leaders. We hoped to better leverage the resources of higher education, and the tools of academic research, in support of local community and social movement organizing. URBAN UT is the result.
Through a process of listening and dialogue, we developed a shared mission and set of priorities for our work together. While initially launched in Salt Lake City, our network has begun to grow statewide through virtual and in-person activities. University Neighborhood Partners and the Bennion Center at the University of Utah serve as backbone organizations for the network.
URBAN UT builds a network of scholars, organizers, educators, activists, and artists to advance critical, action-oriented research for social justice.
Foster equitable, reciprocal partnerships among researchers, organizers, educators, activists, and artists.
Bring resources (e.g., human, financial, institutional) to bear on local social change efforts in a timely and responsive way.
Connect university-based and community-based researchers with resources and support for their development.
The URBAN UT Planning Team:
Adrienne Cachelin (Co-Chair) is a faculty member with the Environmental and Sustainability Studies program at the University of Utah. She also serves as the Director of Sustainability Education and the Bennion Center Teaching Fellow. Her scholarship centers on environmental justice. Using a critical participatory action framework to understand and ameliorate environmental injustices with community, she utilizes community-based scholarship as primary form of pedagogy.
Ana Antunes (Co-Chair) is originally from Rio de Janeiro Brazil, but she has lived in Salt Lake City, UT since 2006. She holds a PhD in Education from the Education, Culture &Society Department at the University of Utah and is an Assistant Professor (Lecturer) in the Division of Gender Studies in the same institution. Dr. Antunes develops participatory projects with young people of refugee and immigrant backgrounds in afterschool settings and it is interested in how racialized and gendered readings of bodies mediates relationships in the educational system.
Andi Witczak is the Associate Director for Community Engaged Learning at the Bennion Center and an Adjunct Associate Professor in Multi-Disciplinary Design in the College of Architecture + Planning at the University of Utah. Andi received both a BFA and MFA in Graphic Design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her mission is to build imaginative capacity and foster creative confidence among those seeking to achieve sustainable, positive change.
Caren Frost is a research professor in the College of Social Work at the University of Utah, where she is involved in community-engaged research with groups who are from refugee and immigrant backgrounds. Her research centers around determining how youth integrate into education settings in the U.S. In addition, she is working on a participatory research project to create a more concrete understanding of parent leadership in education across cultures, and how to support its development.
Paul Kuttner is Associate Director at University Neighborhood Partners, University of Utah. In this role, Paul builds university-community partnerships that promote educational equity, access, and justice for young people while producing valuable knowledge to advance scholarship and social change. He is a qualitative researcher, committed to engaged scholarship conducted in partnership with youth, schools, and communities. Paul’s research focuses on the interconnections between educational institutions and communities that have been marginalized by the education system.