For more than two years, the innovative GenForward survey has polled thousands of young people across the United States—particularly those of color—about their views on everything from education to immigration to racism.
Founded by Prof. Cathy Cohen, a leading scholar on race and politics at the University of Chicago, the first-of-its-kind project has received nationwide attention for its examination of adults under the age of 35—an understudied and over-generalized demographic. The bi-monthly survey fills a gap in the national discourse, which often ignores young people of color even when they are disproportionately affected by pressing political issues.
“Whose voices matter, and whose voices are we listening to?” said Cohen, the David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science. “It’s hard to think about the country, where we’ll be in 10 years or even two years, if we’re not paying close attention to how young people are thinking about the world.”
Past surveys have produced new understandings of millennials through robust national polling. For its latest project, GenForward adopted a different methodology and a local focus for the first time.
Released Jan. 28, the study zeroes in on Chicago to understand how young adults—especially young adults of color—experience the city differently from their white peers. “Race & Place: Young Adults and the Future of Chicago” is based on 200 in-depth interviews with residents between the ages of 18 and 29 in the summer and fall of 2017. Researchers spoke to young people across the city, but targeted most of their interviews in five neighborhood areas of different demographic compositions.
UChicago PhD candidates Margaret Brower and David Knight proposed the project to Cohen and co-directed the study, believing this research would center the voices of young Chicagoans and illuminate how experiences and opportunities diverge within a single city.