Boston College School of Social Work Assistant Professor Samantha Teixeira, whose use of Geographic Information Systems technology exemplifies new directions in community-based research, has received the 2016 Emerging Scholar Award from the Association for Community Organization and Social Administration (ACOSA). 

Founded almost three decades ago, ACOSA consists of community organizers, activists, nonprofit administrators, community builders, policy practitioners, students and educators who are dedicated to strengthening community organization and social administration.

Samantha Teixeira
BCSSW Assistant Professor Samantha Teixeira. (Lee Pellegrini)

“The association is a great group of colleagues who do excellent work in community organization, advocacy, macro social work and other related areas,” said Teixeira, who joined BCSSW in 2015. “To be recognized by them means a lot to me, especially for engagement with the community as well as scholarship.”

Teixeira’s research, which focuses on how neighborhood environmental conditions affect youth – and how youth can be engaged in creating solutions to environmental problems – represents a fresh take on one of the social work profession’s often overlooked practices: mapping communities as a means of evaluating, and responding to, health, familial and social problems.

“Social workers have been doing this since the Progressive Era [approximately 1890-1920],” she explained. “It’s an invaluable part of community organization, and demonstrates how grounded in logical, fact-based inquiry social work is. GIS technology has opened up a whole new range of possibilities in mapping, and with the use of other methods like photography, spatial analysis and in-depth interviews, can contribute to efforts to improve life in disadvantaged neighborhoods, especially among young people.”

True to her belief that youth can and should be part of solutions to community problems, Teixeira has enlisted teenagers to help her study their neighborhoods. In one project, supported by a BC Research Incentive Grant, she spent a summer working with teens in the Codman Square area of Dorchester to map out neighborhood strengths and areas of need using GIS. The teenagers presented their research at the Boston Public Library and discussed findings with other community members.

Recently, Teixeira and BCSSW colleague Associate Dean of Research David Takeuchi co-edited a special edition issue of the W.E.B. Du Bois Review that focused on race and environmental equity

The ACOSA honor adds to a list of prestigious awards Teixeira has won, including the University of Pittsburgh Community Practice Award, the Marie Weil Award for the best article in the Journal of Community Practice and the Society for Social Work and Research Outstanding Dissertation Award.

–Sean Smith / University Communications