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. Nancy McElwain
Early social and emotional development
Dr. Nancy McElwain

Children’s early relationships with caregivers provide a foundation for social, emotional, and physical health. Dr. Nancy McElwain’s research focuses broadly on child-, parent- and family-level factors that promote sensitive caregiving practices and positive parent-child relationships. Because moments of emotional challenge provide especially important opportunities for development, McElwain and her collaborators pinpoint parent-child communication during emotional challenges as a key context in which children develop social and emotional competencies, including understanding of emotions, effective regulation of behavior and attention, and positive relationships with peers. In pursing these research foci, she and her collaborators incorporate behavioral, psychological, and physiological levels of analysis.


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