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Community and Prevention Research

CPR 2022

The primary mission of UIC's doctoral concentration in Community and Prevention Research (CPR) is to train students to conduct innovative research on important social issues in a pluralistic society. Doctoral students are actively involved in research with core and affiliated faculty, typically in urban schools, neighborhoods, and human service settings. Coursework and practicums focus on conducting and disseminating applied research.

UIC's doctoral program in community and prevention research prepares students for a variety of action-research activities. Program graduates pursue action-research careers in academic settings, government agencies, community-based organizations, policy institutes, and non-academic research settings. The doctoral program provides training in the theories and methods of community psychology and prevention and intervention research so as to strengthen students' abilities to think both creatively and critically about pressing social issues. Three guiding principles shape this program to facilitate students’ clear and incisive thinking about issues related to diversity, positive development, and ecological analysis. Persons receiving a Ph.D. will gain expertise in these themes:


Understanding Contextual Influences on Human Development

  • The importance of ecological analysis for understanding individual and setting-level behavior and development.
  • The role of historical, social, developmental, and cultural contexts on the expression of individual and setting-level behavior and development.
  • The ways in which culture, race/ethnicity, gender, social class, disability, and sexual orientation act as resources and constraints for individuals and settings.

Core and affiliate faculty conduct research in a variety of contexts including schools, families, and neighborhoods. Topics include: psychosocial and contextual factors that might mitigate the deleterious effects of discrimination stress on health and health behavior; the influence of neighborhood characteristics (such as poverty, crime racial and ethnic composition, and organizational resources) on child and adult health and well-being; school and family contexts that impact positive child and adult learning and development; and state and federal policy impacts on education reform, intervention adoption, and implementation.


Research Methods and Methodologies

  • The import of using multiple methods and methodologies to best address research questions of interest.
  • The role of collaborative research models (participation with citizens, clients, coalitions, organizations, social movements) in community and prevention research and action.

Core and affiliate faculty currently utilize a variety of methods and methodologies including: quantitative analytic strategies (e.g., longitudinal and multi-level data analysis, structural equation modeling, person-centered analysis), strategies for increasing causal inference (e.g., experimental and quasi-experimental designs, propensity score matching, instrumental variable analysis), and qualitative and mixed-method inquiries. Additionally, several faculty make use of innovative technology to study context and development in novel ways.


Applying Research to Effect Change

  • Strategies for developing, implementing, and evaluating setting-based prevention and intervention.
  • The dissemination of setting-based prevention and intervention strategies as an avenue for creating social change.
  • Critical analysis of theory with a social justice orientation.

Core and affiliate faculty are engaged in developing and evaluating prevention and intervention strategies related to: health behaviors, the promotion of positive community characteristics, and teacher and student mental health and social-emotional learning.

All students receive training in the core areas of contemporary community psychology, community research theory and methods, advanced research design and statistical analysis, research within diverse groups, setting-based prevention and intervention, and action research in community settings. Advanced seminars and courses give students the opportunity for deeper study in specialty areas. Seminar topics include Social and Emotional Learning, Neighborhoods: Assessment and Impact, Social Bases of Health Behavior, and Lifespan Development. Faculty research groups and the program's weekly brown bag seminar provide students with the opportunity to pursue and share research interests with colleagues, community members, and visiting leaders in the field.

In sum, by providing research opportunities, coursework, campus resources and community experience, we seek to develop the next generation of leading scholars in community and prevention research.

Click here for more information on the Graduate Program in Community and Prevention Research at UIC, including selected course descriptions and a sample course sequence.