1st Edition

Promoting Urban Social Justice through Engaged Communication Scholarship Reimagining Place

By George Villanueva Copyright 2022
    202 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    202 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Winner of the 2023 Jane Jacobs Urban Communication Book Award, awarded by the Urban Communication Foundation

    Based on the author’s scholar-activist interventions to promote social justice in cities, this book highlights the role engaged communication scholarship can play in fostering a more equitable future.

    Through three innovative case studies situated in South Los Angeles, the book illustrates engaged communication scholarship projects grounded in design criteria that are social justice-oriented, place-based, collaborative, and public. It models university-community partnerships that promote positive social change in marginalized communities that stand to benefit the most from university resources, guiding readers in how these partnerships can be incorporated into social justice-oriented curriculum and engaged learning projects. It provides strategic recommendations for how "in community" communication research and media practices can be used to build local power in marginalized urban neighborhoods, and calls for communication’s research, pedagogy, epistemologies, practices, ethics, politics, and community engagement to purposefully serve the concerns of marginalized groups in society.

    The book will be of interest to researchers and social change practitioners interested in solution-oriented work in cities within the fields of research methods, organizational communication, urban planning, public policy, sociology, and social work.

    Introduction: Doing Engaged Communication Scholarship  1. Social Justice, Placemaking, and Communication in the City  2. The Social Production of Violence in South Los Angeles  3. Communication Asset Mapping South Los Angeles  4. South Los Angeles Democratic Spaces  5. Ride South Los Angeles  Conclusion: Transforming University–Community Partnerships  Postscript: Toward Reparative Universities


    George Villanueva is an Assistant Professor of Advocacy and Social Change in the School of Communication at Loyola University Chicago. In addition to his academic background, George has over 15 years of practitioner experience in electoral politics, urban planning & development, community organizing, and community program evaluation.

    "At a time when COVID19, racial reckoning and fiscal austerity settle into and weaken the bones of the public university, when public questions multiply about ‘whose’ university and science is viewed as an elitist instrument of control, George Villanueva offers up engaged communication as a praxis toward just scholarship for the collective good. Villaneuva takes seriously the obligation of the academy to place based justice. As an activist scholar who builds with, struggles alongside and yearns to be of use to communities under siege, in this text he chronicles the delicate, collaborative and care-ful moves of solidarity. At precisely the moment when neoliberal logics threaten to hollow, commodify and white-out all things public and critical, this volume re-visions the reparative university: a necessary gift toward the radical reimagination of higher education in 'revolting' times."—Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Critical Psychology, American Studies, Gender/Women's Studies and Urban Education, The Graduate Center, CUNY


    "As an organizing tool, information is not merely descriptive. It captures people’s daily realities, supports a grand narrative of their aspirations, and guides neighborhood struggle for a just future. Effective communication and messaging are part craft, part art. The practice is impactful when inclusive of diverse actors, technicians and audiences. George Villanueva has done a remarkable job to enlighten the readers through his careful and insightful case studies of South Los Angeles. The book documents the robustness of social and political organizing within a highly marginalized community, and argues rightfully that scholars can and should be a partner contributor in fighting for social justice." —Paul Ong, Director, UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge


    "Promoting Urban Social Justice is a major contribution to the growing literature on collaborative university-community research and activism.   George Villanueva is a prominent young scholar in this field who provides additional building blocks that can be used in shaping a research model that brings together both university-based knowledge and community-based knowledge." —Phil Nyden, Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Founding Director of the Center for Urban Research and Learning, Loyola University Chicago


    "Straddling the fields of urban planning and communication practice this book is a pioneering contribution toward place making and social change. Much of this effort is based on Professor Villanueva’s personal commitment to achieve social justice through engaged community activism, drawing from his personal experiences of living, learning, and practicing in inner city Los Angeles. A must read, the book offers compelling ideas for theory, practice, and pedagogy." —Tridib Banerjee, Professor Emeritus of Public Policy, Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California