IUR Director Dr. Andrew Theising on KDHX

Tune in to listen to Institute for Urban Research Director Dr. Andrew Theising talk about urban dissolution and the social contract of East St. Louis on 88.1 KDHX! A direct podcast link is below!

http://kdhx.org/ondemand/podcasts/collateraldamage/andrew-theisingmp3

KDHX show

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Service Learning

Last weekend, my family took a trip to historic Hannibal, Missouri. This little town on the Mississippi River is home to Samuel Clemens, who was one of America’s greatest thinkers. Many people know him better by his pen name – Mark Twain.

In Hannibal, I heard a quote that Twain once said: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

This got me thinking more about service learning. The opportunity for service learning is one that is under-appreciated in education today. Instead of sitting in a classroom, service learning allows students to have an opportunity to get hands on with a project in order to truly appreciate its significance. This experience, which is what I believe Twain was referring to, is sometimes more valuable to students than classroom learning.

The Institute for Urban Research has organized a variety of service learning opportunities for its students at SIUE. These events got college students away from their studying and paper writing for a morning on several Saturdays and into the community of East St. Louis. Last year, the IUR took trips to the Katherine Dunham Museum, where we cleaned up the historic home of Katherine Dunham, as well as to the Joseph Center, where we collected oral histories of local veterans. Pictures from these events are posted below.

This led me to believe that service learning should be utilized more in public schools, especially in urban areas. This type of learning not only gives students an opportunity to learn, but also builds team work, communication, and leadership skills. Perhaps more importantly, this type of learning gives students a pride in their community, which is desperately needed in our cities. Students’ ownership of their community and their willingness to stay and help make it better is the first step towards reviving our urban core. Unfortunately with today’s budget cuts, these types of trips are becoming less and less common in public education. What do you think? Should service learning be incorporated into your public school curriculum?

Clean-up Crew for Oct. 2012K. Dunham Residence Clean-up Oct. 2012-9

Dunham Donations (9)Veteran's Interviews Feb. 2013

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Posted in Culture and the Arts, East St. Louis Today, Education | Comments Off

Urban Beautification

People deserve the right to enjoy a living space that is clean and maintained making it easy to agree that the cleanup of urban areas is essential to building a lasting community. The way an area looks has an impact on who moves there, how long they stay, and ultimately decides the future of that neighborhood. Picking up trash, maintaining the landscape, and the demolition of abandoned buildings could inspire residents to work together to rebuild their community.

For neighborhoods that have lost their appeal as destinations of choice, a community clean up may be what is needed in order to revitalize the area. Urban beautification starts by identifying the cosmetic changes that can be made in a specific neighborhood then working with the residents to make community improvements. Organizing specific days for residents to pick up trash or to engage in some sort of area refurbishment is crucial to creating a better place to live.

 Furthermore, public officials share part of this responsibility as well, and should make policy initiatives to improve the regions they represent.  By putting in place programs to repair streets, sidewalks, and demolish abandoned buildings, policy makers can contribute to rebuilding a community. In order to make sure an area that has been rehabbed remains in the best condition, lawmakers also have a duty to enforce ordinances that will ensure the maintenance and cleanliness of a neighborhood.  

In addition to gaining a nicer living space, beautification may cause residents to have an increased sense of pride in where they live. While there is no quick fix to the many problems that are present in urban areas, a person who lives in a clean environment may be more optimistic about the future. Living in a place that is constantly improving might just inspire individuals to do the same within themselves.

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Cultural Front: East St. Louis and the Humanities

Article written by: Dr. Howard Rambsy
Cross-posted from: www.culturalfront.org
http://www.culturalfront.org/2013/08/east-st-louis-and-humanities.htmlSaint Paul’s Episcopal Church, N 9th Street & Summit, East St. Louis

How might we utilize the arts, humanities, and technology to enhance views and engagements with East St. Louis?

That question has been driving my imagination, research, and planning activities for the last few months. Between August 2007 and May 2013, my public programming energies were primarily devoted to directing the Black Studies Program at SIUE. We did projects beyond the university, including exhibits in East St. Louis, but for the most part, our projects were often based on campus.

Moving forward, my work with the East St. Louis Action Project will provide me opportunities to engage the city in more active ways. Given my experiences with literary, humanities, and digital humanities projects, we’ll seek out ways to apply those fields to our work on and in East St. Louis. We’re working with a group of residents, writers, graphic designers, photographers, artists, students, and teachers to think about and produce compositions featuring East St. Louis.

In the meantime, I’m starting to write about the city on a more regular basis. My writings will appear here and over on Andrew Theising’s site. I’ve been consistently thinking and talking with people about the ongoing histories of East St. Louis for about a decade now. I’m excited to finally start sharing observations and reporting on projects.

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The Importance of Urban Education

Public education has long been overlooked as one of the keys to reforming our country’s urban cores. Contrary to reform, we often view these districts as a lost cause and seek ways to remove students from these districts. This attitude only hurts our central cities. In order to revive our urban schools, we must make investments in several areas:

Continuous training for teachers is perhaps the most vital investment school districts can make. Whether this training involves classroom management, crisis response, grant writing, or anything in between, teachers should have skills that can advance their institution. Training this front line staff allows teachers to become more like partners in the district as opposed to a cookie cutter employee.

Infrastructure is another overlooked aspect of investment in urban schools. Many urban school buildings were built in the early to mid-1900s and are no longer healthy environments for learning. Updated infrastructure could increase safety, increase natural light, and provide students an environment where learning is the primary focus.

Finally, technology should be a final investment in urban public schools. Technological changes are at the forefront of our rapidly changing world, and our urban students are being left behind. Urban students should graduate school with proficiency in computer skills, which opens up job opportunities and a whole new world of knowledge: the internet.

How do we fund these things? Each urban area must develop a partnership within the three spheres of any society: government, business, and non-profit organizations. Each sphere has a direct interest in revitalizing urban school systems because of possible growth from the products of these districts. With this partnership between governments, parents, businesses, teachers, non-profit organizations, and students, we can finally put urban school districts on the path to success.

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Posted in Education, Government, Public Policy, social issues, ST. Louis | 1 Comment

IUR Launches Virtual East St. Louis Historical Society Website on ESL’s 152nd Birthday

titleThe city of East St. Louis, Illinois turns 152 years old today! To honor the city’s birthday, The Institute for Urban Research at SIUE has officially launched the Virtual East St. Louis Historical Society, a web portal that provides digital access to a variety of first and second-hand historical sources about the city of East St. Louis.

The site gives users an interactive way to explore the rich history of East St. Louis through a variety of photos, videos, articles, newspapers, and facts about the city.

Click here to visit the Virtual East St. Louis Historical Society.

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Posted in Economic Development | 1 Comment

“The High School Question” survey data coming soon

Coming later this spring will be an analysis of the survey data of Dr. Sarah VanSlette’s research into the effects of the age-old St. Louis question “Where did you go to high school?”

Dr. VanSlette’s findings will report on the effect of the “high school question” on non-native St. Louisians, with information such as how many times they’ve been asked the question, how being a transplant influences employee relationships in workplaces, and how the question in general makes them feel about the St. Louis area.

In the meantime, you can check out the Riverfront Times article about Dr. VanSlette’s research, and their interactive flowchart to find out which school you might have attended had you lived in St. Louis at that time.

flowchart snapshot courtesy of the Riverfront Times, article by Aimee Levitt

flowchart snapshot courtesy of the Riverfront Times, article by Aimee Levitt

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Join the Institute for Urban Research for a Service Day on Saturday, February 23, 2013

Come join the Institute for Urban Research on February 23, 2013, in collecting video histories of East St. Louis Veterans at the Joseph Center.

We will meet on campus at 8:30 a.m. in Lot A for a carpool to the Joseph Center. The carpool will leave campus no later than 9 a.m., and will return to campus no later than 2 p.m.

Participating in this event will give you an opportunity to communicate with our former military service members and learn about what life has been like for them.

If you are interested in helping with this project, please contact Patience Ferry in the Institute for Urban Research at 650-5262 or by email at pferry@siue.edu.

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Andy Theising to be a guest on St. Louis Public Radio Show

Tomorrow, Wednesday January 30, 2013, Institute for Urban Research Director Dr. Andy Theising will be featured on the “St. Louis on the Air” show on St. Louis Public Radio.

Dr. Theising will be discussing the latest book in the East St. Louis Sesquicentennial Series, “An East St. Louis Anthology: The Origins of a River City”. Edited by Dr. Charles Lumpkins of Pennsylvania State University, the book reveals the history of the city through essays and historical documents.

“St. Louis on the Air” airs live at 11:00 a.m. on St. Louis public radio, KWMU- 90.7 FM, and streaming online at http://www.news.stlpublicradio.org/programs/st-louis-air.

If you miss the original broadcast, the show will be repeated at 10:00 p.m. both on the radio and online.

The book is available for purchase at amazon.com.

 

"An East St. Louis Anthology: The Origins of a River City"

“An East St. Louis Anthology: The Origins of a River City”

 

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Posted in Culture and the Arts, East St. Louis Today, Economic Development, ST. Louis | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

Urban Research Scholar Sarah VanSlette’s Research Mentioned in the RFT 2012 News Challenge

IUR Urban Research Scholar Sarah VanSlette’s research on growing up in or moving to St. Louis, particularly as it applies to the oft-asked question about which high school a person attended, has made it into the Riverfront Times’ 2012 News Challenge. Take the quiz here, and you’ll find her at question 53!

(Spoiler alert: the correct answer, D, has been paraphrased by the RFT. The study is about the effect of the whole “high school question” on non-St. Louisians.)

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