American Sociological Association

Sociology in Action: Nancy López

Nancy López, University of New Mexico, partnered with the Albuquerque Public Schools in Albuquerque, NM, where she worked with vulnerable youth and communities. ASA asked López about her work:

What is the mission of the organization? The mission of the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS)-University of New Mexico (UNM) Research Practice Partnership (RPP) Ethnic Studies Education and Health (ESEH) is to advance the empowerment of youth, teachers, administrators through community-based participatory research. It is our hope to center the lives of vulnerable youth and communities in our collective work toward creating lasting systemic changes that advance equity, inclusion and social justice in K-12 and beyond.

Could you describe your work? Our first research project examines the impact of teacher trainings regarding student-centered critical pedagogy on the empowerment of high school teachers, principals, administrators, and students in a large district in New Mexico. We expect to find these trainings will enhance the empowerment of multi-level stakeholders and students in the implementation of ethnic studies.

What sociological knowledge and/or skills did you use? Our research team consists of a mix of scholars in public health, education, and sociology. We are employing Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) and intersectionality praxis (connecting race, gender, class, disability, sexual orientation, and other axes of difference and power for serving vulnerable communities) as our guiding frameworks.

How did you connect with the Albuquerque Public Schools? In 2016 I initiated conversations on creating an ethnic studies research/practice partnership that could facilitate implementation for vulnerable youth in the district. We have created a vision statement and video available at, and collected preliminary data. We have also submitted grants and are in conversations with other research leads on ethnic studies through the National Network of Research Practice Partnerships.

How long has the project run? Over a year thus far.

Is there anything else you would like to share about this work? The development of this partnership was made possible through the support and volunteer efforts of many individuals and organizations. For more information and to support this work, visit: