Productive, Empowered Communities

Imagine...Productive, Empowered Communities

Communities thrive when their members do. Learning what’s needed for individuals, families, and society to flourish is the cornerstone of social science scholarship in the College of ACES. We study the complex interactions in families and foster their resilience among the stresses of modern life. We are discovering how children and young people can best grow to become adults who contribute effectively to society.

Scholarly knowledge becomes action in ACES, through work in educational settings, youth development programs, and community services touching thousands of young people and families. ACES develops leaders at all stages of life, starting with 4-H members and the students we prepare for successful careers. The innovative new leadership studies program at the University of Illinois makes its home in ACES.

Decision makers come to ACES for expertise that influences social policies and economic prospects, extending from local communities to the global stage. An array of disciplines, including policy, law, economics, leadership, vocational education, and communication converge here, facilitating problem solving from multiple perspectives. Scholars focus on finding solutions to help improve quality of life.

In ACES, we are applying science and technology in smarter and more sustainable ways, teaching people to effectively manage relationships and finances, and bringing to light new ways to nurture communities.

Other Features

Highlighted Research

Dr. Gail Ferguson
Cultural transmission
Dr. Gail Ferguson
21st Century globalization and technology brings youth and families in contact with once-distant cultures from across the globe, and this has important implications for youth identity, health, and family relationships. Dr. Gail Ferguson's international research shows that 30-50% of urban adolescents in Jamaica, and up to 70% of urban youth in southern Africa, internalize U.S. culture in their behaviors and values through a process called “remote acculturation,” and this Americanization is linked to poorer nutrition, psychological discontent, and family conflict. However, Ferguson's research also suggests that globalization and technology can build resilience in transnational families through a related process call “remote enculturation” – youth growing up outside their heritage country can now connect to their family history and strengthen ethnic identity, which are linked to better physical, psychological, and academic adjustment. Her lab is now beginning to translate their research into school- and community-based programs to improve the quality of life for modern international and transnational families.


Dr. Erica Thieman

Coming to the University of Illinois as a freshman or transfer student can be intimidating. ACES 101 helps new students enrolled in the College of ACES adapt to college life. The class offers tips for future professional success, study suggestions, the opportunity to see some of the College of ACES research, and tips for simply surviving college.

“This course is designed to make sure