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Dr. Christine Drennon announced as the 2014 winner of the UAA-SAGE Activist Scholar Award

March 19, 2014

Drennon to give a plenary lecture at the 2014 Urban Affairs Association Annual Conference

Los Angeles, CA - SAGE and the Urban Affairs Association (UAA) are delighted to announce that Dr. Christine Drennon, Director of the Urban Studies Program at Trinity University, is the 2014 winner of the UAA-SAGE Marilyn Gittell Activist Scholar Award. Dr. Drennon will be honored at the 2014 UAA Annual Conference held in San Antonio, Texas March 19-22, 2014.

Dr. Drennon became actively engaged in addressing the urban challenges of the San Antonio community within months of joining the Trinity University Faculty. Since then, her work has led to the creation of additional pre-K neighborhood sites, to designating the local middle school as a place to provide social services and amenities to those in need, and to helping young adults make their probation appointments. Her work on campus focuses on urban geography and community development, particularly on understanding how an urban area’s opportunity and inequality are situated geographically.

“I am honored and humbled to be recognized with this award,” commented Drennon. “I’m from the inner-city; the inner-city is home to me. I went from resident of the city (growing up and living in it) to student of the city (studying it and teaching about it) to activist in the city (fighting for it) when the three began to overlap.”

Set up in 2010, the Activist Scholar award honors the legacy of the late scholar and urban affairs activist, Dr. Marilyn Jacobs Gittell. It is awarded annually to an urban scholar who has engaged in field-based research that incorporates direct engagement with local residents and organizations in the city of the UAA conference. View past winners here.

“Dr. Drennon’s work is a model representation of effective field-based scholarship, elevating the societal value of urban scholarship, and embodying the legacy of the late Marilyn Gittell,” stated Michele Sordi, Vice President, SAGE. “Not only has she made a positive impact in her community, but she has also made a lasting impact on her students by directly involving them in her work. SAGE is delighted to honor her with this award.”

Dr. Marilyn Gittell was an active scholar, political scientist, and education reformer. She wrote seminal works on urban participation, was the founding editor of Urban Affairs Quarterly – presently titled Urban Affairs Review – SAGE’s first journal and the leading academic journal in the field of urban research, and was an impassioned participant in one of the most controversial social experiments of her time – New York City school decentralization. She was deeply committed to training young urban scholars of color and women, and taught them to understand the workings of democracy from the ground up, using the methods of field research.

“Christine Drennonn continues a tremendous legacy left by Marilyn Gittell, one that challenges every research scholar committed to social justice to act on their values,” said Margaret Wilder, Executive Director, UAA. “UAA is extremely proud to partner with SAGE in recognizing such individuals who are making a difference in urban communities throughout the U.S.”

Dr. Drennon continued, “For me it took personal experience – when my kids were receiving a second-rate education because of where we lived, yet my colleagues kids were receiving a first-rate education because they lived a few miles away, resident, student, and activist collided as I was struck by the fundamental insight that this was unjust, that I had the resources and the means to know how it came about, and that I truly believed that if I brought those things together I could change them… Well, I’m still trying.”


The UAA Annual Conference unites key scholars and activists to explore how to understand urban challenges, to create effective public policy, and to memorialize the legacy of Marilyn Gittell. The theme for the 2014 conference is “Building the 21st Century City: Inclusion, Innovation, and Globalization.” Dr. Drennon will deliver her plenary speech detailing her work on Friday, March 21. For more information on the UAA Annual Conference, click here.

The Urban Affairs Association is dedicated to creating interdisciplinary spaces for engaging in intellectual and practical discussions about urban life.  Through theoretical, empirical, and action-oriented research, the UAA fosters diverse activities to understand and shape a more just and equitable urban world.

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