Campus and Community

Journal of Family Strengths Inspires Collaboration Among UHD Faculty, Community Partners

commerce-street-building-and-metro-trainBy Mike Emery

Academic journals deliver news on groundbreaking research and offer perspectives on topics impacting society. These scholarly publications also offer researchers and educators opportunities to share their expertise with a variety of audiences.

Faculty members at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) College of Public Service (CPS) contribute their time and talents to the Journal of Family Strengths as special issue editors and contributors. Since 2012, the college has partnered with the Texas Medical Center and Children at Risk to produce this publication. Its articles focus on theories, policies, practices and perspectives related to strengthening family systems.

The journal’s newest issue was published in September and is titled “Latino Civic and Social Engagement: Voices, Experiences, Trials and Triumphs.”

Articles include “Si Votan: Texas Latino Politicians Perspectives on Engaging Latino Voters in the Electoral Process,” written by Rebecca Pfeffer, assistant professor in UHD’s College of Public Service, and  Robert D. Sanborn, president and CEO of Children at Risk. The article features interviews with Texas Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. and former Houston City Councilman and former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia discussing the impact Latino voters have in statewide and local elections. Another article “Finding Latino/a Voices in the Storytelling Process: Preservice Teachers Tell Their Stories in Digital Narratives” was written by UHD faculty Laura A. Mitchell, Diane M. Miller and Colin Dalton. It focuses on how preservice teachers (or educators-in-training) used digital storytelling to discover their cultural heritages and identities.

“This college houses the Department of Criminal Justice and Social Work and Department of Urban Education. These academic disciplines are tied to the ideas of strength and community,” said Leigh Van Horn, interim dean of the College for Public Service. “Our faculty always tell me how much it means to them to be able to participate in this journal.”

Van Horn added that the journal not only allows faculty members to spotlight their research and knowledge, it also provides them with significant experience as journal editors. They plan future issues and are involved in its production and distribution. Most importantly, the journal bolsters relationships within the college’s academic family.

“We’re provided with the opportunity to learn from each other, listen to each other and work together,” Van Horn said. “We’re able to collaborate in ways that we usually would not, so it’s a unifying tool for our college.”

The publication also unifies the college with two valuable partners in the Texas Medical Center (TMC) and Children at Risk, Van Horn added. It’s created a synergy that has yielded positive outcomes for the college and UHD. An example is the college’s new Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in Early Childhood Education and Family Systems degree. This academic program kicks off in spring 2017, and the college is receiving support and guidance from both (TMC) and Children at Risk in developing curriculum and programming.

“Both organizations have been amazing,” Van Horn said. “They, along with other external partners, have informed us of the needs of the community and of the institutions where our students will be employed. This knowledge has been beneficial to us as we design the degree program and as we refine the curriculum for the program”

The Journal of Family Strengths is published biannually. The next edition will focus on disparities in health care. To review the current issue or to browse past editions, visit the journal’s website.