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Roosevelt's Policy Research Collaborative: Seeking solutions to community problems

Arts and Sciences, Social Justice in Action, Roosevelt's Chicago, Chicago
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Policy Research Collaboration
Policy Research Collaborative Director Charlie Barlow (left) leads a session with faculty, staff and community members at Roosevelt University.
“We don’t want reports that just sit on shelves. At PRC, we are taking a collaborative approach to conducting research that will be transformational in changing lives for the better.” Charlie Barlow Director, Policy Research Collaborative at Roosevelt University

Creative minds from around the city of Chicago are coming together to find solutions to community problems in a new workshop hosted by the Policy Research Collaborative at Roosevelt University.

The initiative called City Open is bringing together grassroots organizers, policy and urban design planners as well as faculty and students from Roosevelt University to collaborate on solutions to problems like:

  • What to do with more than 50 Chicago Public School buildings that have closed?
  • What are new uses for under-utilized church spaces?
  • How can community buy-in be encouraged through the city of Chicago’s incentive program for the purchase, reuse, and redevelopment of vacant city lots? 
  • How best to move forward and address the need for more affordable housing in Chicago’s gentrifying Pilsen neighborhood?

“Our mission is to bring design to communities as a platform for citizen-driven change,” said Charlie Barlow, director of Roosevelt’s PRC, an interdisciplinary, applied research and technical assistance center that actively works with community partners to address social inequities and strengthen communities. 

Elle Ramel, director of development at Farpoint, and Paola Aguirre, architect, urban designer and founder of the Borderless Studio, are among key partners who initially began City Open in 2016.

“We are thrilled to be working with Roosevelt University’s PRC and its unique resources, including student researchers and organizers who are sure to bring ideas, enthusiasm and activism to the initiative,” said Aguirre.

More than a dozen Roosevelt students, faculty and staff already have signed up to take part in City Open’s bi-weekly collaborative workshops that are held at 6 p.m. on Mondays at Roosevelt University, 425 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago, Room 1315.

“We don’t want reports that just sit on shelves. At PRC, we are taking a collaborative approach to conducting research that will be transformational in changing lives for the better,” said Barlow.

The next session of City Open on March 5 will feature a discussion about creative place making in churches with guest presenter Jonathan Randall Grant, the artist-in-residence at the American Church in Paris and the arts-in-ministry resident at Urban Village Church in Chicago. Additional sessions are scheduled for March 19, April 2, 16 and 30.

The public is welcome.  Roosevelt students who have interest in public policy, research and community organizing are encouraged to attend. For information, visit 

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