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US-China Forum 2021: Addressing Inequality and Promoting Social Welfare

Nicole P. Marwell

Photo of Professor Nicole Marwell

Nicole P. Marwell

Associate Professor, Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice

Faculty Affiliate, Department of Sociology

Faculty Fellow, Center for Spatial Data Science

Faculty Advisory Council Member, Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation 

The University of Chicago

Nicole Marwell’s research examines urban governance, with a focus on the diverse intersections between nonprofit organizations, government bureaucracies, and politics. Marwell’s approach to studying urban governance draws on an interdisciplinary set of insights and tools from sociology, organization studies, ethnic studies, political science, and public administration. She begins with the premise that organizations mediate the historically specific operation of key urban processes such as economic production, public goods distribution, community formation, and democratic representation. As such, organizations provide key sites for the empirical investigation of these and other urban phenomena. She understands cities as complex and shifting sets of inter-organizational relations, and uses qualitative, quantitative, and historical methods to explore how changes in this meso-level of social structure affect urban cohesion, inequality, and exclusion.

Her current research projects include: (1) a study of how stakeholders understand the benefits and drawbacks of using randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to evaluate human service programs and organizations; (2) an investigation of how different forms of knowledge are deployed in decision-making during the rollout of mandates for evidence-based policy take-up by human service organizations; (3) the development of a course and book prospectus examining the new governance challenges posed by the 21st century data explosion, with a focus on how data science, social science, and public policy intersect; (4) and the Next-Generation Health and Human Services Platform, a project that seeks to develop a process and platform to use publicly available data to present a system-wide picture of whether public funds are appropriately matched to identified community health and human service needs. Marwell’s 2007 book, Bargaining for Brooklyn: Community Organizations in the Entrepreneurial City was published by the University of Chicago Press. 

Prior to beginning her academic career, Marwell worked at New York City’s Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art, the AT&T Foundation, the Levi Strauss Foundation, and Nike. She was previously associate professor of public affairs at Baruch College, academic director of the Baruch Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management, and a member of the sociology faculty at the CUNY Graduate Center. Professor Marwell received her PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago.