2013 Community Based Research Faculty Seminar

The 2013 Community Based Research Faculty Seminar, hosted by the Beck Research Initiative for Women, Gender and Community and the Steans Center for Community-Based Service Learning, featured two exciting projects which emphasize the multi-disciplinary aspects of community-based research: the first by Miles Harvey of the Department of English, and the second by Dr. Naomi Steinberg of the Department of Religious Studies. Jeff Howard, Assistant Director for Faculty Development, facilitated the workshop.

Mr. Howard began the seminar with a presentation entitled “Engaging with the Community, Creating Scholarly Products,” which provided an overview of community-engaged scholarship and valuable resources for faculty. A copy of the presentation can be found here:

Faculty CES Seminar

Miles Harvey, Assistant Professor of English, discussed his project “How Long Will I Cry: Voices of Youth Violence,” which began to take shape in the aftermath of the much-publicized murder of 16-year-old Derrion Albert near Fenger High School in 2009, when U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called for a “national conversation” on youth violence.

This project—a unique collaboration between Steppenwolf Theatre and DePaul University—helped explore that conversation in two different forms: a theater piece and a book. For two years, graduate and undergraduate creative-writing students at DePaul interviewed people from all over the city—including at-risk adolescents, parents, community leaders, educators, and police officers—who know the tragic consequences of youth violence first-hand. These stories were then incorporated into a documentary-theater piece in the style of The Laramie Project.  The production, entitled “How Long Will I Cry? Voices of Youth Violence,” opened at Steppenwolf Theater in February of 2013 and will continue to tour in libraries and other public forums throughout the city. The production was specifically aimed at young audiences, and it received acclaim in several Chicago publications. Miles’ play joins a variety of other productions and artistic installations around the city that are seeking to bring attention to this crucial issue. In addition to the theatrical performances at Steppenwolf, which continued through March of 2013, Miles is editing a book of the oral-history narratives captured in these interviews that will be distributed free to community groups as a resource for their own anti-violence efforts.

Dr. Naomi Steinberg, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, discussed her teaching and research regarding the nature of the child. Her most recent publication, “The World of the Child in the Hebrew Bible,”  is a fascinating study in which she draws  on her personal cross-cultural experience of children’s lives in Guatemala, exposing the reality that childhood in the Hebrew Bible was radically different from present-day childhood.

In “The World of the Child” she explores the question ‘What is a child?’ in order to illustrate that this question is not easily answered. During the discussion, Dr. Steinberg shared some of the details of her research – namely, that the social constructions of childhood in the Hebrew Bible were based on what the child could do for the parent, not vice versa. Rather, children were their parents’ property and were used to fulfill their parents’ desires and needs. In her research she corrects the notion that childhood is a static category in the human life cycle, showing that meanings of childhood are not generic and cannot be carried over from one society to another.

Dr. Steinberg also shared her experiences teaching this subject in her class “Women In the Bible,” where she integrated a service learning project into the course curriculum.

Details of her book can be found here:

The World of the Child in the Hebrew Bible



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