The Institute takes a holistic approach to understanding and examining the complex issues faced by the residents of distressed urban communities. Our atypical research strategy is centered around the concept of quality of life. We utilize the interdisciplinary perspectives of six focal areas—Education, Public Safety, Health, Housing, Social Capital, and Economic Development—to underpin our research initiatives. Yet we recognize that the many strands woven into the fabric of community do not exist independently, and so we must study them as they are—linked to one another. Because quality of life is multidimensional, we know that the solutions that will improve it must also be multidimensional. The Institute not only seeks to better understand the mechanisms by which indicators of quality of life interact with each other, but also to apply that understanding to generate lasting revitalization—across all dimensions of quality of life—in distressed urban neighborhoods.
How We Do It
Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, as well as cutting-edge GIS mapping techniques, the Institute has established a reputation for producing research that is informative, actionable, and place-based. The Institute collaborates with scholars from universities both local and nationwide, enhancing its studies with fresh perspectives and approaches, while simultaneously advancing the concept of quality of life as an investigative framework. In addition, the Institute looks to partner with community organizations at every turn. Whether to identify research questions or in developing strategies to address the problems highlighted by the research, the Institute sees community collaboration as central to its work and effectiveness. Lastly, the Institute welcomes students to its staff as interns and research assistants, providing them with valuable training and the rewarding experience of working on such critical social issues.
Where We're Headed
After years of research on poverty, housing, and social justice, we're often asked the question "Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?" We believe the answer is, emphatically, "Yes!". The end of the tunnel may still be some distance away, and the light may be too dim for many to see, but the good news is that we have movement in the right direction. The Institute' will continue its focus on quality of life, a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to challenge the traditional research paradigm and support communities efforts for change across the DFW area.