From Northwest Indiana, Joe Howarth graduated from Purdue University without knowing what direction to take. He moved to Charlotte and volunteered with the United Way of Central Carolinas’ Citizen Review Process. The CRP involved learning about different service and advocacy organizations in Charlotte and determining how United Way funds would be dispersed. This opportunity shed light on the complex moving parts that make up a community. Howarth entered the Master’s program in Geography at UNC Charlotte to learn more about how communities and cities work through complex social issues. This led him to the PhD program with an interest in gentrification and affordable housing.
Howarth was invited to teach LBST 2215 as part of his involvement with the Charlotte Action Research Project (CHARP) under Dr. Janni Sorensen. His work in CHARP brought him into partnership with Charlotte neighborhoods where he forged friendships and collaborations as he worked with communities to organize and use research as a way to understand the issues they faced. Howarth relished the opportunity to work with students and share his experiences working in Charlotte neighborhoods. He has put students face-to-face with the social issues of citizenship and community service.
His involvement with Race Matters for Juvenile Justice has had a lasting impact on his teaching and his research. He brings an anti-racist lens to classroom discussions and asks students to face systemic racism and white privilege head on. Howarth teaches LBST 2215 and challenges students to think critically and look at the deeper roots of the social issues we face—such as racism, poverty, and homelessness. With the support of the Honors College and CHARP, he has crafted semester-long community projects in which students work with community partners to explore complex community issues.