Robert Chaskin

McCormick Foundation Professor, Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice 

Robert J. Chaskin is the McCormick Foundation Professor at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, where he holds the UNESCO Chair in Inclusive Urbanism. He is also the Faculty Director of the Susan and Richard Kiphart Center for Global Health and Social Development. His research interests include community organizing and development, community social organization, comprehensive community initiatives, youth development, associations and nonprofits, philanthropy and social change, social housing policy, knowledge utilization and evaluation, and cross-national research. Professor Chaskin teaches courses on social policy, community development, and program implementation and on theories and strategies of community change.

Professor Chaskin’s work focuses on the conceptual foundations and principal strategies of social policy and community intervention in the context of urban poverty. He has written widely on the topics of neighborhood intervention, community capacity building, and the dynamics of participatory planning and neighborhood governance, among other topics. His research focuses on social policy and community practice in two principal ways: through grounded investigations of particular interventions and through synthetic, cross-intervention analyses. To date, Professor Chaskin’s work has evolved along three major lines. The first is concerned with theories of community and social policy responses to urban poverty, the second focuses strategies of community change with a particular focus on participatory planning and democratic governance at the neighborhood level, and the third is concerned with the application of knowledge to inform community practice and policy.

Among other projects, he has recently completed work on a multi-year, multi-site study of public housing reform in Chicago, with a particular focus on the emerging mixed-income developments being built in several Chicago neighborhoods on the footprint of former public housing developments. This project culminated in the book Integrating the Inner City: The Promise and Perils of Mixed-Income Public Housing Transformation (with Mark Joseph, The University of Chicago Press, 2015), which received the Honorable Mention for the Best Book in Urban Affairs Award from the Urban Affairs Association. His latest book (edited with Bong Joo Lee and Surinder Jaswal), Social Exclusion in Cross-National Perspective: Actors, Actions, and Impacts from Above and Below, was published by Oxford University Press in 2019. He has recently completed fieldwork for a study on the civic and political engagement of marginalized urban youth in Belfast, Dublin, and London with support from a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship from the European Commission,  is currently conducting research on slum clearance and social housing policy in Mumbai, India, with colleagues from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and is embarking on work focused on urbanization and migration in China with colleagues at SSA, Peking University, and Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Professor Chaskin was inducted into the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare in 2020. He received his A.M. in Anthropology and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago.

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