Social Justice


Homelessness Policy Recommendations

Homelessness is an issue in communities across the country. Due to poverty, mental illness challenges, lack of affordable housing, and other factors, homelessness is becoming more prevalent in contemporary society.  Students in the course Public Policy and Persuasion will develop policy briefings for Clinton community partners, with the broad goal of helping to ensure safe, sanitary, and secure housing options for residents. 


Local Strategies to Address the Opioid Epidemic

Public Affairs graduate students from the School of Planning and Public Affairs will work with the Clinton Police Department and other service providers to identify new local, proactive strategies for addressing opioid addiction and abuse in the community.  A focus of the project will include tracking how recent funds garnered by the State of Iowa from settlements with pharmaceuticals companies can be deployed in Clinton.  

Gender Equity in Maquoketa

Maquoketa Gender Equity Policy Study

Students enrolled in the School of Planning and Public Affairs Public Policy and Persuasion course worked with Maquoketa leaders to develop a set of proposed policy solutions to balance the gender distribution of individuals in public positions.  

Raina Harmon

Advancing Economic Inclusion and Black Entrepreneurship in Iowa City

Courses from two University of Iowa departments - the Department of Theatre Arts and The School of Planning & Public Affairs - merged to explore the role of arts & culture in community and economic development, with a focus on economic inclusion and Black advancement in Iowa City.  

Waterloo community visit

Housing Policy & Resources - Part I

Students in the Fall semester Policy and Persuasion course worked with Waterloo representatives to first identify some of the most pressing issues related to home ownership and affordability, and then to develop policy recommendations for the City moving forward.

Four student groups focused on distinct, yet overlapping housing issues:


Waterloo Law Enforcement, Mental Health, and Community Relations

Graduate and advanced undergraduate students in the Department of Sociology & Criminology studied the relationship between law enforcement and mental health cases in Waterloo.


Church Row Neighborhood: Sustainable and Equitable Transportation

Combined with the effort to create the Church Row neighborhood plan, a course in the School of Planning & Public Affairs assessed the walkability and accessibility of the Church Row neighborhood, particularly focusing issues of equity that include safety, access to employment and basic needs services, public transportation, parks and open space, and more.

Fair Chance Initiative Flyer

Waterloo Fair Chance Initiative Study

College of Law students in the Community Empowerment Law Project conducted a study to evaluate the implementation and community awareness about the Fair Chance Initiative in Waterloo, also known as "Ban the Box". 

Columbus Junction Interview

Columbus Junction Community Storytelling Project, Part 2

Students from the School of Urban & Regional Planning course Community Development in the Upper Midwest interviewed several Chin Burmese residents of Columbus Junction to produce a short film about their sense of home in their new community.

Columbus Junction

Columbus Junction Sesquicentennial: Strategic Communication Plan

Students in the Course Advanced Strategic Communications developed communication strategies and defined key goals for the celebration of Columbus Junction's sesquicentennial.

In 2024, Columbus Junction will commemorate 150 years as a community.  By getting an early start on planning with the students at the University of Iowa, Mallory Smith, Columbus Junction Community Development Director, is hoping to use the sesquicentennial event as an opportunity to celebrate the ever-changing Columbus Junction community and promote city improvement projects.

Columbus Junction

Columbus Junction Community Storytelling Project, Part 1

Students from the School of Urban & Regional Planning course Community Development in the Upper Midwest worked with Latinx teens in Columbus Junction's Upward Bound program to produce videos and books that help tell the 150 year story of the community through interviews and historical artifacts.

Graduate and advanced undergraduates in urban planning, the social sciences, the humanities, and the arts examined the many challenges facing small- to medium-sized towns in Iowa and elsewhere in the Upper Midwest and work towards community-based solutions.

UI College of Law building

Child Neglect in Keokuk - Systems Mapping and Advocacy through a Legal Lens

College of Law students in the Community Empowerment Law Project worked with Keokuk officials to map the existing system for addressing child neglect in the community, and to create a local advocacy strategy to increase system transparency.