Streetwise for Book Smarts

Cornell University Press, 2009


Celina Su examines the efforts of parents and students who sought to improve the quality of education in their local schools by working with grassroots organizations and taking matters into their own hands. Via close observation of activist groups in the Bronx, Su analyzes strategies that may ultimately lead to better and safer schools everywhere and help to revitalize American democracy.


"Streetwise for Book Smarts is a completely novel and provocative take on an extremely important topic. Its great strength arises from Celina Su's street-level research style. This book should be read by community organizers, foundation officers, and policy makers as well as political scientists, sociologists, urban anthropologists, and scholars of community organizing."

     —Dennis Shirley, Boston College

Our Schools Suck

New York University Press, 2009


In cities across the nation, many students are trapped in under-funded, mismanaged and unsafe schools. Yet, a number of scholars and public figures like Bill Cosby have shifted attention away from the persistence of school segregation to lambaste the values of young people themselves. Our Schools Suck (with Gaston Alonso, Noel Anderson, and Jeanne Theoharis) gives voice to the African American and Latino students who attend under-resourced inner-city schools, where guidance counselors and AP classes are limited and security guards and metal detectors are plentiful—and grow disheartened by a public conversation that continually casts them as the problem with urban schools.


"The student voices in this striking book are an intervention into the adult-driven stereotypes of urban youth. The students offer stories of anger, challenge and hope. We all need to pay attention to these voices, and act on the corrective lessons they provide."
     —Jean Anyon, author of Radical Possibilities: 
Public Policy, Urban Education, and A New Social Movement  

[Read the Introduction]

Introducing Global Health

Jossey-Bass/ John Wiley, 2013


The global health policy literature abounds with titles describing how multi-national organizations, governments, and private organizations have tried to solve development problems and failed. Introducing Global Health (with Peter Muennig) uses a more multi-dimensional approach; further, while it is certainly helpful to learn from our mistakes, this book emphasizes what has actually worked. The book reflects growing interest in the intersection between governance and health, especially in low- and middle-income countries—with a focus on politics and contested notions of accountability and democratic policy-making.



Democracy How? Harper's Magazine.

What Makes Young People Excited About Politics? Washington Post.

Bildung als FarceDie Tagezeitung.

A Jarful of StarsBerlin Journal.

Bürger entdecken BürgerDie Tagezeitung.

Holiday in Cambodian+1

Brown v. Board of Education at 55: Segregation in the 21st century
With Gaston Alonso, Noel Anderson, & Jeanne Theoharis. The Progressive.

  • Also printed in four newspapers nationwide.

Structural violence in a refugee community [photolog]Asia Catalyst.

Waiting for Gautreaux: Gautreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority and HUD. With Damon Rich and Prem Krishnamurthy. [22-foot-long flow chart on legal arguments and policy changes in the case's 35-year history, pictured here] City Without a Ghetto Exhibit, Center for Urban Pedagogy. Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York.

  • Included in various exhibits including the Rotterdam Architecture Biennial, 2009.


Su, Celina. 2018. Managed Participation: City Agencies and Micropolitics in Participatory Budgeting. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly

Su, Celina. 2017. Beyond Inclusion: Critical Race Theory and Participatory Budgeting. New Political Science. 39(1):126-142. [Available here.]

Su, Celina. 2015. Insider-Outsider Empowered Deliberative Action: Toward a Model of Youth Empowerment and Educational Justice. In Rich, Denise and Jim Ryan (Eds.), Working (With/out) the System: Educational Leadership, Micropolitics and Social Justice. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Su, Celina. 2014. Between bottom-up and top-down governance: Participatory budgeting in New York City. Metropolitics, 1 December. [Available here.]

Su, Celina and Peter Muennig. 2013. Social policy interventions and public health. In Richard Parker and Marni Sommer (Eds.), Structural Approaches in Public Health. New York: Routledge.


Su, Celina and Isabelle Jagninski. 2013. From Toxic Tours to Growing the Grasssroots: Tensions in Critical Pedagogy and Community Development. Journal of Urban Affairs. 35(1):103-121.

Su, Celina. 2012. Whose Budget? Our Budget? Broadening Political Stakeholdership via Participatory Budgeting. Journal of Public Deliberation, 8(2):1-14. [Available here.]


Martinson, Marty and Celina Su. 2012. Contrasting organizing approaches: The “Alinsky tradition” and Freirian organizing approaches. In Meredith Minkler (Ed.), Community Organizing and Community Building for Health, 3rd Edition. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. 

Su, Celina. 2010. Marginalized stakeholders and performative politics: Dueling discourses in education policy-making. Critical Policy Studies, 4(4):362-383. [Available here.]

Ospina, Sonia and Celina Su. 2009. Weaving color lines: Race, ethnicity, and the work of leadership in social change organizations. Leadership, 5(2):137-170. 

  • Reprinted in David Collinson, Keith Grint, and Brad Jackson (Eds.), Leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 

Su, Celina. 2007. Cracking silent codes: Critical race theory and education organizing. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 28(4):531-548. [Available here.]

Fernandez, Roberto and Celina Su. 2005. Space in the study of labor markets. Annual Review of Sociology. 30:545-69.