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

Improving resilience of teachers by examining stress
Dr. Erica Thieman

Dr. Erica Thieman studies resilience in secondary agriculture teachers  who advise FFA chapters and teach leadership in the middle and high school settings. Currently she is examining the impact of stress on retention and resilience in teachers while working to integrate stress management concepts into the agriculture teacher education curriculum. Through instruction in stress management in the preservice years, she hopes to improve retention and quality of life professionally and personally among classroom teachers.


ACE 199: Agribusiness Leadership and Policy
Instructor Jon Scholl

ACE 199, Agribusiness Leadership and Policy, is in its fifth year of providing students a meaningful policy experience during a week in Washington, D.C.

In the semester-long class, students study policy issues and the policy process under the guidance of Mr. Jon Scholl, former president of the American Farmland Trust and an experienced influencer in developing farm policy at both state and national levels. Students prepare and deliver testimony and are then interviewed by a member of the Illinois media on the information they present. Guest speakers such as Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, add perspectives on how policy is developed, and the class visits Illinois groups to learn more about their process for making policy.

During spring break, the students travel to Washington, D.C. to deepen their knowledge further. They spend a day on Capitol Hill as well as interacting with top executives of agricultural companies, organizations and agencies.

One former student, Cathryn Ayers, now works on Capitol Hill. She said that “ACE 199 broadened my understanding about how policy truly works in Washington, D.C. I had the opportunity to learn from leaders in the industry and actually partake in policy discussions with confidence. The class does not have a textbook but is rather a firsthand learning experience; it really opened my eyes to how policy influences our everyday lives. The network I created while in class introduced me to some of my greatest mentors and led me to my current position.”

Instructor Jon Scholl cites issues, process, and philosophy of engagement as the three main course objectives. Scholl’s career in policy makes him the ideal instructor and mentor for the course, and he values the chance to share his knowledge and experiences. “Paying it forward is important. When I think back to my mentors, [professor emeritus] Dr. Spitze had a big influence. To have the opportunity to influence students in turn means a lot to me.”