Laura Khoury: Community Engaged Learning & Research Award
Laura Khoury is a professor in the Sociology Department at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. She teaches a number of courses on topics such as social justice, race/ethic relations, and urbanism/urbanization. She was awarded the Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award by University of Wisconsin System in 2018.
Since 2006, Dr. Laura Khoury has been integrating community-based learning experiences into her sociology courses, but it is her longer history of community based research and action around issues of social justice that provides the foundation for her inspiring messages to her students.
While she sees community engagement as “a door opener for life and careers after college,” it is her passion for equity and racial justice that guides the research and projects in which she engages her students. The organizations with which Dr. Khoury has partnered address issues of domestic violence, homelessness, poverty and racism. Always mindful of providing real benefits to her partners, she sees community based learning and research as “an act of balancing learning goals and service outcomes.”
She seeks to expose students to practices that question embedded privilege and reframe the service component in a way that allows them to draw on their own experiences and question stereotypical notions. “Dr. Khoury requires us to dig deep and ask questions in order to develop critical thinking skills,” said one student.
This reflection changes the nature of the students’ interactions with the community members who are experiencing homelessness, hunger, eviction, and violence.
“What I am most grateful for from Dr. Khoury is that she lives out, and has instilled in her students, the importance of valuing each person they meet,” said Reverend Jonathan Barker of Grace Welcome Center in Kenosha. “Listening to peoples’ stories, taking greater ownership of space through art, finding voice through organizing around eviction, and getting people to participate in a dance class all were activities which affirmed that even if you are having a hard time, you are still a human that matters.”
Congratulations, Laura Khoury!