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5 Questions with Faculty: Wonhyung Lee

Degrees in social work and urban planning reflect Wonhyung Lee's interest in community development.  

ALBANY, N. Y. (May 2, 2017) — Wonhyung Lee, an assistant professor in the School of Social Welfare, is finishing up her third year at UAlbany. She was attracted to the University by a position where she can specialize in social entrepreneurship and neighborhood revitalization, utilizing her master’s in social work and Ph.D. in urban and regional planning, both from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Lee’s research focuses on community development and improving the climate for local businesses in low-income, multiethnic neighborhoods.

What are your working on now?

I am working on multiple projects that are related to community development and community engagement. Each project has a unique angle, for example, business revitalization, outreach to populations who experience homelessness, or access to food in marginalized communities. I’m excited that each project brings an opportunity for me to meet and work with various organizations in the community and reflects their voices in my research and teaching.

What made you decide to pursue your field?

Questions about poverty and various shapes of community led me to the field of social work. During my training in social work, I found the field of urban planning fascinating as I started thinking more about the relationship between people and environment. In the overlapping areas of these two fields, I continue to pursue community development and engagement as my primary specialty in research, teaching and practice.

If you weren’t teaching at a university, what would you be doing?

Something related to community development is likely, either as a practitioner or as a consultant. But I think other possibilities are wide open — such as a travel writer, café owner, florist etc.

What was your first job?

I interned at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in South Korea, where I organized online resources for travelers.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

I would say I spend most of my time in my office on the Downtown Campus, which can easily be my favorite spot — favorite in a sense that it feels like a cozy nook. I also enjoy the Uptown Campus fountain area on gorgeous summer days.

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