Heather Dalmage

Roosevelt University sociology professor Heather Dalmage concluded her term as president of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) this summer. During her final address at the organization’s annual meeting, she urged the scholars to maintain hope in their work to transform their communities.

Dalmage is also the director of Roosevelt’s Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation. She served as president of the SSSP during the 2019–20 term.

“In sociology, we have what I would call a hope gap,” Professor Dalmage said. “This gap exists between academics, sociologists who are working in universities, and people who are on the ground building movements.”

She asked her colleagues to not only help their students develop a sociological imagination, but prepare them to look for pathways to build worlds beyond the social problems they study.

“If we give our students the tools to ‘see’ the way injustice works in our world, without providing explicit pathways toward building better worlds, we are leaving them in despair,” said Dalmage. “Hope comes from working, learning and building together — in community — toward dreams of transformation."

Roosevelt sociology alum Richard Wallace also spoke on the presidential panel at the annual conference, discussing his work across Chicago to build a more just world. Wallace is the founder of Equity and Transformation and a Soros Justice Fellow.

The Society for the Study of Social Problems is an interdisciplinary community that engages in social justice research and action. The SSSP also encourages the work of young sociologists with professional support, leadership opportunities and scholarships. The organization was founded at Roosevelt University in 1951 in order to “rescue sociology from the dehumanizing influences of abstract theorizing and fancifully complex research methods.” The founders, including Roosevelt professor Arthur Hillman, sought to address injustices such as racism and sexism.

Heather Dalmage is a scholar of race. She is the co-author of Vanishing Eden: White Construction of Memory, Meaning, and Identity in a Racially-Changing City (Temple University Press, 2016), with Roosevelt professor Mike Maly, and Tripping on the Color Line: Black-White Families in a Racially Divided World (Rutgers University Press, 2000).

Dalmage is a former Fulbright Scholar to South Africa and the recipient of the 2018 Doris Wilkinson Award for Faculty Leadership.


The Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation, created in 1999 through a generous gift from the Mansfield Foundation, gives Roosevelt University a unique opportunity to develop an integrated program of curriculum, research and outreach focused on social justice issues through which students will develop into socially conscious leaders.

We create and facilitate scholar activism among our students, faculty and members of our community, through a pedagogy of transformational learning, social justice programming and action.

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