URI’s Providence campus to hold panel discussion about challenges facing Rhode Island’s urban areas

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KINGSTON, R.I., Oct. 13, 2015 – Crime and public safety, race and gender equality in the workforce, and challenges facing urban areas in tough economic times are the topics of this year’s forum on urban issues at the University of Rhode Island’s Feinstein College of Continuing Education.

The “State of Urban Rhode Island Report” forum will be held Monday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m., on URI’s Providence campus, 80 Washington St., Providence. The forum is free and open to the public.

Problems of poverty affect most of Rhode Island’s urban communities: a lack of jobs for under-skilled workers; limited access to education for people of color; residential segregation of lower-income urban residents; and the need for public attention to gender-based violence and lack of safety in public spaces.

“The topics covered in this year’s report couldn’t be more timely,” said Lori Ciccomascolo, dean of The College of Continuing Education. “Economic and social policy research is important as it will allow us to open the dialogue and offer solutions to issues that affect our city, state, and country. I’m looking forward to an insightful conversation.”

The panelists are:

* Donna Hughes, a URI professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and a leading international researcher on human trafficking. She will present her report, “Gender Crimes as an Indicator of Public Safety in Urban Rhode Island.” Hughes identifies indicators of public safety in Rhode Island as they relate to gender crimes. She proposes that gender crimes are rooted in social inequality and injustice and advocates that more visibility may lead to increased conversations about systematic approaches to prevention and safety.

* Julia Jordan-Zachary is a professor of political science and the director of Black Studies at Providence College, where her research focuses on race, gender and public policy. Jordan-Zachary’s report, “Workforce Development as Anti-Poverty Strategy: Targeting Women of Color in Urban R.I.,” presents data about the complex issues affecting the economic well-being of women of color in Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence, West Warwick and Woonsocket. She addresses the economic vulnerability for women of color, citing the need for workforce development efforts in urban communities.

* Kristin Johnson is an associate professor in URI’s Political Science Department. Her areas of research and expertise include looking at relationships between state capabilities, civil conflict and resource distribution and development. Johnson’s report, “Comparing Municipal Government Efficiency in Rhode Island,” takes a close look at Rhode Island’s efforts to increase efficiency particularly in urban areas. Her report examines how agencies in urban areas use not only their financial capital but also strategically take into account different levels of human resources to provide access to high-quality services during tough economic times.

The reports are data-driven and offer big-picture views and possible policy-level solutions to address pressing needs in Rhode Island’s urban communities that involve safety, economic development and municipal services.

The discussion and report are part of URI’s Urban Initiative focusing on the impact of national and global issues on urban communities throughout the country.

For more information, contact Tammy Vargas Warner at 401-277-5160 or tammyvw@uri.edu.