Associate Professor of Sociology & Ethnic Studies Profile Image
Associate Professor of Sociology & Ethnic Studies Sociology ldance2@unl.edu 723 Oldfather Hall

Google Scholar

Curriculum Vitae

Current Research

“At-Risk” Students and Urban Schools

When studying urban schools, my angle is less on how students fail in schools but how schools fail students and teachers. In that way, like scholars working at the Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk (CRESPAR) at Johns Hopkins University, I prefer the designation of “students placed at risk” to that of “at-risk” students. Using ethnographic methods, participatory action research approaches, and, most recently, critical discourse analysis techniques, I document and analyze risk-inducing situations from the perspectives of students and teachers who experience these situations. From my dissertation and my first book to my co-authored article published in the Spring of 2014 and my current book project, Gone with the Neo-Liberal Wind: Minority Teens, School Reform, and Urban Misrepresentations in Sweden and the U.S., the precarious circumstances of urban youths, urban schools, and low-income urban communities remain unifying threads running through the vast majority of my research projects and publications.

Geographically Displaced Persons

My newest research area aims to create viable opportunities for academics to work collaboratively with persons with histories of forced migratory displacement. To that end, a group of Co-PIs from UNK, UNO, and UNL have initiated a series of community forums, workshops and symposia that bridge researchers and Indigenous and International Displaced Persons/Communities. These forums, workshop and symposia are designed to uncover understudied areas regarding migratory displacement, develop community sensitive research agendas and reports, and identify viable participatory action research projects or scholarly initiatives designed and conducted via collaborations among researchers and community members.

 Comedy & Racism

Another relatively new area of inquiry combines my specializations in Race and Ethnicity with my interest in innovative pedagogy. During the spring of 2018, with IRB approval I began a pilot project on the use of comedic materials in college instructional settings. Follow-up research and data analysis for that project was disrupted by COVID-19 but finalized during the early Summer of 2021. Working with two outstanding undergrad research assistants, I have documented findings in an article manuscript that will be submitted during the 2021 academic year. The findings will also be used to resubmit a grant to the Spencer foundation.  I am examining whether comedic materials can be used as springboards for productive conversations—discussions and dialogues that raise critical consciousness about topics related to racial and ethnic inequities—about sensitive topics.  In addition to these pilot projects.  I am working with colleagues in Sweden and England on a proposal for a multi-national project designed to examine how comedy and satire have been used both as instruments of dehumanization and as tools for resisting dehumanization. The plan is to submit proposals to the National Science Foundation and European Union funding opportunities. 

Student Opportunities

Over the last few years, I have been working with students (undergraduates, graduates, and one high school student) on Indigenous resistance and Standing Rock, religious minorities in Lincoln from the Middle East, the IRB challenges encountered by researchers who work with vulnerable groups, newspaper misrepresentations of so-called “ghetto” students in Sweden and the U.S., elite school officials’ blind spots regarding educational inequality, and the grassroots needs of communities (Indigenous and International) who have histories of forcible geographical displacement. Thanks to NU Team Building Funding, I am currently seeking graduate students to assist with my project involving persons with histories of forcible geographic displacement.

Current Teaching

My most recent courses include The Minority Experience (Ethnic Studies 100), Social Inequality: Race, Class, and Gender (Sociology 398 Special Topics), Immigration and Multiculturalism (Sociology 398 Special Topics), a hybrid undergraduate-undergraduate course on Social Inequality: Race, Class, and Gender (Sociology 391/898), and a graduate seminar From Bruce Lee to Black Lives Matter (Sociology 906). Immigration and Multiculturalism was a Global Virtual Classroom course that includes once-a-week discussions with students from the University of Jordan in Amman. Using funds from Virtual Global Teaching Grant, I am currently working with scholars at Lund University (Sweden), Gothenburg University (Sweden), and Hiroshima University (Japan) on a Virtual Global Seminar.

Selected Publications

“Ideal Dialogues with Immigrants of Color in Sweden and the U.S.: A Participatory-Ethnographic Approach.” 2019. Journal of Ethnography and Qualitative Research (L. J. Dance and L. Johnson, co-authors).

Black Lives Matter!: Dreaming for America to Practice What Jefferson Preached,” Racism Review, an Academic Blog by Professors Joe R. Feagin and Jessie Daniels,  February 15, 2017. (L.J. Dance).

Propaganda on Palestine: All Knowing White Man and Angry Black Woman conjure ‘good’ Jews and ‘evil’ Arabs,” Mondoweiss (a progressive on-line journal by Jewish American journalists on Israel/Palestine), August 11, 2014. (L.J. Dance and C. Holm, co-authors).

Performativity Pressures at Urban High Schools in Sweden and the U.S.,” Ethnography and Education, Volume 9, Issue 3, April 2014 (J. Lunneblad and L. J. Dance, equally contributing co-authors; LJ Dance main copy editor)

 “Preparing Children of Immigrants: Promising Schools in New York and Sweden,” in The Children of Immigrants in Schools: A Comparative Look at Integration in the U.S. and Western Europe, edited by Richard Alba and Jennifer Holdaway. (2013) New York University Press (Carola Suárez-Orozco, Margary Martin, Mikael Alexandersson, L. J. Dance,  & J. Lunneblad)

Recent Grant Activity

2020. NU Team Building Grant, University of Nebraska ($149,996)

2019. NU Collaboration Planning Grant, University of Nebraska ($20,000)

2018. Internal Grant: Inclusive Excellence Development Grants, University of Nebraska’s Office of Diversity, Access and Inclusion. ($3000).

 2015. Internal Grant: College of Arts and Sciences International Travel for Scholarly Presentations, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. ($1500).

 2013. Vetenskapsrådet /The Swedish Research Council, Co-PI, The Middle East in the Contemporary World (MECW) Strategic Research Area Grant, Lund University, Lead PI-Leif Stenberg, award amount = approximately 2,000,000 USD per year for five years)

Other Information

Diversity Work

Nurturing diversity, inclusion, and equity practices is an ever evolving work-in-progress. However, most recently at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I have nurtured diversity, inclusion, and equity practices via (1) workshops, (2) a new initiative called Bridges Across Diversity, (3) a new course developed using the Game of Thrones, and (4) an Inclusive Excellence Grant Awarded for a project titled “The Husker DNA Journey.”  Currently, I serve as one of the five UNL Journey for Anti-Racism and Racial Equity Co-Leaders.

Public Intellectual?

I will not elaborate my activist work here but I will provide a few examples of why others have called me a Public Intellectual. Over the last several years I have worked with persons in prisons, low-income youths of color from NGOs and recreation centers, persons and organizations from several different marginalized groups (for example Black Americans, American Indians, Palestinians), persons in Sweden and the U.S. from refugee backgrounds, and so on. Many persons from these groups have had little to no interest in attending academic lectures, reading academic books and journal articles, or attending academic conferences. I have, therefore, been working on more accessible formats for spreading sociological knowledge. The poetic expression of Spoken Word is central to these more accessible formats of knowledge dissemination.

During the Summer of 2013, after the civil unrest that occurred in Stockholm Sweden in May of 2013, I was invited to several discussions by non-academic organizations in Sweden. Instead of a typical lecture, I gave a spoken word lecture comparing Black American civil protests to those in Sweden. Inspired by Motown artists of the 1960s, the title of that spoken word lecture is “RESPECT In The Name of Love.SE.”

Ph.D., Harvard University

Areas of Specialization:

  • Cross National Comparisons
  • Displaced Persons
  • Intersectionality
  • Racial & Ethnic Minorities
  • Minority Youths
  • Urban Sociology
  • Sociology of Education