Leslie Martin has honed in on housing and homelessness in the Fredericksburg area community.
And so are students taking the freshman class seminar taught by the assistant professor of sociology.
The students work at a local homeless shelter, assist with community dinners and tutor through programs around Fredericksburg.
This integral community involvement helps shed light on area housing issues that undergraduates tackle in Martin’s seminar, “No Place Like Home: Housing and Society.”
Martin leads discussions on housing and homelessness, using examples from her ongoing research on the rhetoric of homeless service providers.
One such discussion in her urban sociology class focused on how the presence of homeless people in the downtown area impact local businesses. The timely issue illustrates how communities address inequality and poverty, Martin said.
Martin, who has served on affordable housing and homelessness task forces, sees a connection between how agencies and other providers talk about homelessness and the solutions they believe are possible. She hopes her research can increase awareness, especially among her students, about a growing issue in their own backyard.
“They are so intertwined,” she said of her project and her classes. “Taking apart the research and the teaching is almost impossible.”
She presented a paper of her findings on Friday, April 27 at the Urban Affairs Association conference in Pittsburgh.
“This [research] has opened my mind,” she said. “It is shaping the way I’m thinking about issues in the local community. It makes me want to learn more.”