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Schoolhouse Talk - Sophia Rodriguez, PhD

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Education Building

2800 North Charles Street

Great Hall

Baltimore, MD 21218

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We're building the community; it’s a hub for democracy: Lessons learned from a library-based, school district partnership to increase belonging for newcomer immigrant and refugee youth.


Drawing on a community-based, mixed-methods study, Sophia Rodriguez will discuss how one urban school district’s partnership with a public library helped to increase social belonging for newcomer undocumented and refugee youth. Her presentation will describe the library’s community practice of advocating for newcomers with meaningful programming to build understanding of community resources, local politics, and belonging. Key findings relate to the project leaders’ perceptions of the library as a hub for democracy; details on how the program positively increased the sense of belonging among newcomers; and lessons learned from the program’s first year. Implications for practice demonstrate how an asset-based program through a library-school district partnership can counteract hostile political climates toward newcomers. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of ethical and methodological considerations for educators, evaluators, and social science researchers when working on justice-oriented, community-based evaluation.

Speaker series may be attended in-person or online

Sophia Rodriguez, PhD

Sophia Rodriguez is an assistant professor of educational foundations at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. As a sociologist of education, she examines the social and cultural contexts of education policy and practice, and teaches graduate courses related to immigrant youth and education, critical and social theory, and research methodology. Her two current longitudinal projects—funded by the Spencer Foundation (2018-20) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (2016-19)—utilize mixed-methods and ethnographic designs to investigate how community-school partnerships, teachers, and school-based mental health professionals promote equity and advocate for migrant youth. Her work has appeared in the peer-reviewed journals Educational Policy, Education Policy Analysis Archives, Educational Studies, The Urban Review, The Journal of Latinos and Education, and The Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy. Rodriguez received her PhD in cultural and educational policy studies from Loyola University Chicago.

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Education Building

2800 North Charles Street

Great Hall

Baltimore, MD 21218

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