Ten years ago, I came to Rutgers-Camden because of the university’s commitment to community work. The Center for Urban Research and Education (CURE) has been the intellectual heart of that commitment, which is why I’m honored to be named its Director. At CURE, research and community work go hand-in-hand – that’s why I took this new position, and why I want to share a little more about my vision for CURE with you.
I have always admired CURE, particularly Dr. Paul Jargowsky’s work on segregation. To me, this is what research should be: it should build knowledge on the critical issues of our time, be a part of our policy and political discourse, and further justice in our communities. CURE has a legacy of doing just that.
When I got to Rutgers, CURE was conducting the Camden Neighborhood Change Study. Every day, folks were walking through neighborhoods conducting a survey of houses so that a) the city better understood its blight epidemic, and b) future researchers had a baseline to understand the changes already coming to Camden. I did what any young community-engaged scholar would do. I picked up a clipboard and volunteered to join.
My commitment to CURE is to make more of this work possible, and to do so in partnership with community. In that spirit, we are launching Community First, an initiative places the needs, aspirations, and voices of our local community at the forefront of our research endeavors. Community First represents a pledge to ensure that our work is not just academically rigorous but deeply relevant and impactful for the communities we call home.
CURE will continue to be an engine for that kind of work. Community First projects will be conceived at kitchen tables and nonprofit board rooms, building academic knowledge and pursuing justice. We’ll be piloting that model this Spring through a Community First class where PhD students conduct projects with community groups. We’ve also received over $100,000 in funding from Rutgers’ Urban Innovation Fund and the Rutgers Equity Alliance for Community Health (REACH) to work with One Camden to better understand how Camden residents are navigating the city’s school choice landscape.
This, of course, is only the beginning. We’ll be announcing new community partnerships, hosting seminars with community-engaged scholars, and continuing CURE’s legacy of world-class urban research.
Please join us in this work. Reach out to our team. Join our mailing list. Attend our events. Volunteer for CURE. Consider donating to the center. My email address is stephen.danley@rutgers.edu if you’d like to connect with our team and learn more about any of these possibilities.
I’m honored to be leading this next chapter in CURE’s illustrious history. Now, let’s get to the work.