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The Center for Urban Education Leadership (CUEL) seeks to impact issues of equity for PK-12 students through research, development, and policy advocacy. We investigate and act upon both leadership-focused and multi-disciplinary, leadership-inclusive problems to generate knowledge. We design, test, and enact learning designs to develop leaders and their organizations. Our work occurs locally, nationally, and globally. We accomplish these outcomes by applying our expertise in the areas of educational leadership, organizational development, equity/social justice, and continuous improvement/improvement science as we collaborate with other researchers and practitioners.

The CUEL is housed in UIC’s College of Education (COE) in Chicago, IL. Given our location in one of the world’s great/global cities, a portion of our work seeks to directly impact the city of Chicago and learn from research into its “grand challenges” to incubate solutions portable to other urban settings throughout the world.

Our Work with the University of Illinois at Chicago: The CUEL is closely affiliated with COEs nationally recognized Department of Educational Policy Studies and doctoral program in urban educational leadership. Our ongoing support of this doctoral-level leadership preparation program’s continuous improvement has led to the design/enactment of a preparation program identified as “exemplary” by the University Council for Educational Administration–one of just seven to receive this designation. This program has also been recognized for its program quality by an assortment of other national organizations such as the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the George W. Bush Institute’s Alliance to Reform Educational Leadership (AREL). Our work with this program allows us to both research and incubate practices that can be ported to other organizations throughout the US and the world.

Our Work within Chicago: During 2021, CUEL formalized a research and development partnership with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) called C2 for “CPS-CUEL.”  This partnership is designed to identify areas where new knowledge is essential to pressing CPS problems and use the partnership to generate and support the utilization of such knowledge within CPS.  See our partnership’s theory of action here.

Our Work Throughout the United States: The CUEL works with other research centers and institutions as well as a variety of national educational organizations, state and regional departments of education, school districts and schools, community organizations, and university-based educational leadership preparation programs.


Our International Work: The CUEL engages in work with an international assortment of educational organizations as well as with national ministries of education and national governments. We are particularly engaged in supporting national educational reform and educational leader development in the Global South and Middle East.