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Sarah Bruch, associate professor and director of the doctoral program in urban affairs and public policy, has been honored with the William Foote Whyte Distinguished Career Award. Presented by the American Sociological Association's Section on Sociological Practice and Public Sociology, the award is given to those with significant contributions to sociological practice and public sociology.
Bruch is recognized for her contributions as an applied sociologist engaged in community-based, participatory research on educational equity, social policy, and racial inequality, which has yielded sustained benefits at community and school levels.
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Over the past five years, she has pioneered an innovative program of community-based, participatory research with school districts in Iowa to more effectively address persistent inequities in their districts. This research-practice partnership draws upon Dr. Bruch’s expertise in educational equity, social policy, and racial inequality, and makes that expertise available to the districts and local community partners. Dr. Bruch’s research integrates the perspectives and experiences of community members and stakeholders, and has yielded sustained benefits for the community and school districts. Dr. Bruch exemplifies the promise and potential of public sociology in three ways. First, she applies robust research methods and findings to the analysis and solution of compelling and urgent public problems. Second, and at every turn, her work engages the community directly—in collaboration with her district partners, and also in its efforts to incorporate students, parents, teachers, and others in the substantive assessment of needs and solutions. Third, Dr. Bruch has tirelessly and intentionally included students (graduate and undergraduate) in this research—indeed graduate students and a robust team of undergraduate interns have been integral to the project from the start.
Dr. Bruch has increased the District’s capacity to address equity and helped embed data on student experience and achievement disparities into the District’s strategic equity plan. Dr. Bruch has provided leadership and guidance to District level administration on how to ensure that equity remains at the forefront of the most critical aspects of our work. Dr. Bruch is clearly an outstanding professional, mentor, teacher, and colleague, but above all else, a fearless leader in this work. She has been out in front to use her research in the service of improving the quality of life for students in school districts in Iowa.
— Kingley Botchway II, Chief Officer of Human Resources and Equity, WAterloo Community School District
The mentorship Sarah has provided us, along with many other graduate and undergraduate students, has been invaluable in shaping our lives and our career trajectories in public sociology and sociological practice. Under Sarah’s mentorship we have learned how to conduct sociological research in collaboration with community partners, communicate research publicly, and to effectively inform positive change in our communities. Sarah is an exemplary role model for us in leveraging sociological research to address persistent inequities in education using a data-informed, evidence-based, and inclusive process model.
In addition to working with local school districts, Sarah also led the administration and subsequent data analysis of a diversity, equity, and inclusion campus climate survey for faculty, staff, and students at the University of Iowa. She guided us, and three other graduate research assistants through survey data analysis, conducting campus-wide listening sessions, and writing comprehensive, public reports of the results. Sarah’s efforts towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus were pivotal. Today, findings from the campus climates surveys are actively being incorporated into the University’s strategic plan and the surveys continue as an ongoing, bi-annual campus initiative.
We are extremely grateful to have a mentor like Sarah that genuinely cares about us and helps us to succeed. She demonstrates that we can make positive change in the world using sociological research. Because of Sarah’s ongoing mentorship, we are prepared to and planning to enter careers which put our sociological skills to work for our communities.
—graduate students KaLeigh White and Rachel Maller