Associate Professor; Department Chair; and Director of the Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC)
178 Pillsbury Dr SE
206 Burton Hall
Ph.D. University of Minnesota, sociology
M.S. University of Utah, sociology
B.A. University of Utah, Spanish Education
Areas of Interest
Urban partnership and Anchor Institutions
Educational Access for underrepresented groups
Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education
Heidi Lasley Barajas, Ph.D is the Executive Director of the Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC), a place based University center located in North Minneapolis. Dr. Barajas also serves with the Office for Public Engagement supporting the University of Minnesota’s urban community engagement work. A sociologist by training, Dr. Barajas is an associate professor (and founding chair) of the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning (PsTL) in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD). Her research, teaching and public service focus on issues related to access and inclusion, with a focus on building educational institutions that support students across differences of race, gender and class. In addition, Dr. Barajas explores the role of anchor institutions in working with communities to solve urban issues.
Dr. Barajas, who is a native Californian, received a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Minnesota as a National Science Foundation Fellow; she also holds a B.A. in Spanish and education and a master's degree in sociology from the University of Utah.
As the UROC Executive Director, Dr. Barajas has built the infrastructure of UROC focusing on documenting partnership and measuring community impact. She initiated a series of events, Critical Conversations, bringing together national experts, community members and university faculty and students around a common topic in order to seek solutions to issues facing urban communities. She previously was co-leader of the interim executive team guiding UROC from its May 2010 grand opening through March 2011. Dr. Barajas has served as a core member of the University Northside Partnership and was a member of the Action Planning Team that shaped UROC strategic planning. She served as co-chair of the oversight committee for the Hennepin University Partnership AGRAD initiative to boost graduation rates and reduce achievement disparities. Currently, she serves on the steering committee for Hennepin County’s Penn Avenue Works.
A sociologist by training, Dr. Barajas joined the University of Minnesota faculty in 2000. Her research, teaching and public service center on issues related to access and equity, with a focus on building educational institutions that support students across differences of race, gender and class. Her work crosses disciplinary boundaries with publications in top journals such as Gender and Society, Teachers College Record, and National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin. Her research also includes work in pedagogy and access through the lens of Universal Instructional Design reaching a wider audience through publication in journals such as About Campus. Dr. Barajas has been the primary investigator and directed teams in grant funded research through several notable funders including the U. S. Department of Commerce, the U.S Department of Education, and the Wallace Reader’s Digest fund.
Dr. Barajas’ expertise in engagement and diversity is recognized and called upon in a leadership capacity by various university as well as external community and government organizations. Her current research and pubic service work involves both small and large-scale projects addressing the opportunity gap, collaborative job creation, and community partners exploring trauma recovery. She is a team leader for the University of Minnesota Office for Public Engagement and a faculty affiliate with the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development.
Dr. Barajas also serves as board chair of Hope Community, a neighborhood revitalization initiative in South Central Minneapolis and co-chairs the Northside Achievement Zone College Action Team. She lives in Minneapolis and has four grown children and ten grandchildren.
Barajas, H., Smalkoski, K., Kaplan, M., Yang, Y. (2012). “Hmong Families and Education: Partnership as Essential Link to Discovery.” Cura Reporter, vol 42, n 3: 3-9.
Higbee, J. L., & Barajas, H. L. (2007). Building effective places for multicultural learning. About Campus, 12(3), 16-22.
Barajas, H.L., & Ronnkvist, A. (2007). Racialized space: Framing Latino and Latina experience in public schools. Teachers College Record, vol 9, n 6: 1517-1538.
Barajas, H. L., Howarth, A., Telles, A. (2006). I know the space I’m in: Latina students linking theory and experience in Student Standpoints About Access Programs in Higher Education.. D.B. Lundell & J.L. Higbee (Eds.). Minneapolis, MN: Center for Research in Developmental Education and Urban Literacy, General College, University of Minnesota.
Barajas, H. L., and Pierce, J. L. (2005) “The significance of race and gender in school success among Latinas and Latinos in college.” Gender & Society, vol 15, n 6, pp. 859-878, reprinted in Elizabeth Higginbotham and Margaret Anderson (Eds.) Race and Ethnicity in Society: The Changing Landscape. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.
Barajas, H.L. Creating spheres of freedom: (2005). The connection of developmental education, multicultural education, and student experience. Book Chapter in The General College Vision: Integrating Intellectual Growth, Multicultural Perspectives and Student Development. Minneapolis, MN: Center for Research in Developmental Education and Urban Literacy, General College, University of Minnesota
Barajas, H.L., & Jacobs, W. R. (2005) Reading, writing, and sociology?: ‘Other’ subjects as developmental education. Book Chapter in The General College Vision: Integrating Intellectual Growth, Multicultural Perspectives and Student Development. Minneapolis, MN: Center for Research in Developmental Education and Urban Literacy, General College, University of Minnesota
Barajas, H.L., Higbee, J.L. (2003). Where do we go from here? Universal Design as a model for multicultural education. In J.L. Higbee (ed.), Curriculum transformation and disability: Implementing universal design in higher education. Minneapolis, MN: Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy, General College. University of Minnesota.
Barajas, H. L. (2002). Changing objects to subjects: Transgressing normative service learning approaches” in Urban Literacy and Developmental Education.. D.B. Lundell & J.L. Higbee (Eds.). Minneapolis, MN: Center for Research in Developmental Education and Urban Literacy, General College, University of Minnesota
Barajas, H.L., Seashore, K. L., Pepper, D. (2002). Implementing a vision for change in schools: Creating a Cadre of advocates for student success. In Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) at the University of Minnesota. Evaluation of the National Program for Transforming School Counseling. Paper published on firstname.lastname@example.org
Barajas , H. L. & Pierce, J.L. (2001). The significance of race and gender in school success among Latinas and Latinos in college. Gender and Society. 15 (6), pp. 859-78
Seashore, K., Jones, L., & Barajas, H.L. (2001) Districts and Schools as a Context for Transformed Counseling Roles. Paper published on email@example.com
Louis, K., Jones, L., & Barajas, H.L. (2001) Districts and Schools as a Context for Transformed Counseling Roles. National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin, the Journal for Middle Level and High School Leaders. 85 (625), 62-71.
Davison Aviles, R., Guerrero, M., & Barajas Howarth, H. (1999). Perceptions of Chicano/Latino Students Who have Dropped Out of School. Journal of Counseling and Development V. 77 No 4 pp. 465-73.
Barajas, H. L. (2000). Is Developmental Education a Racial Project? Race Relations in
Developmental Education Spaces in Theoretical Perspectives for Developmental Education. (pp. 29-37). D.B. Lundell & J.L. Higbee (Eds.). Minneapolis, MN: Center for Research in Developmental Education and Urban Literacy, General College, University of Minnesota.
Howarth (Barajas), H. (1994). The Creation of Education by Hispanic Females. Explorations in Ethnic Studies, 17, (1), 45-61.
Barajas, H. (June, 2014). Working with Interesting, Challenging, Difficult People. National Children, Youth, and Families at Risk Conference, Washington, DC (invited)
*Barajas, H., Martin, L. (October, 2012). “The Emerging UROC Model: Partnership as a Vehicle for Discovery, Inquiry and Engaged Research to fulfill a 21st Century Urban Land Grant Mission.” Coalition for Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU). Chattanooga, TN.
Barajas, H., Axtell, S. (November, 2011). “Broadband Access: Engaging Diverse Communities.” Blandin Foundation and Connect Minnesota Policy and Progress: Border to Border Broadband Conference. Duluth, MN. (invited)
*Matson, J., Barajas, H. (October 5, 2011). “Characterizing Neighborhood Change with Data: The Role of University Centers.” Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) Webinar
Barajas, H., Smalkoski, K. (August, 2010). “Choice Matters: Urban Hmong and the suburban school.” The Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), Atlanta, GA. (invited)
*Barajas, H., Smalkoski, K., Yang, Y., Yang L., Yang, P. (June, 2010). “Engaging Research Design: Reflections and ethics in working with newly arrived immigrants.” The Ethnics and Politics of Research with Immigrant Populations Conference, Minneapolis, MN.
*Barajas, H., Burton, L. (March 2010). “A Comparative Look at Diverse Students in Service-Learning.” Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), Chicago, Illinois.
*Barajas, H., Burton, L., Ronnkvist, A. (November, 2008). “From Disequilibrium to Literacy:
Diverse Students and Service-Learning.” Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), Jacksonville, Florida.