René Olate, assistant professor of social work
Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis
Representative publication: “Youth Volunteer Service in Latin America and the Caribbean,” Civil Society and Local Development, edited by Anabel Cruz and Andrés Solari (Porrua Press, 2007)
My research interests include civic engagement, volunteerism, and civic service (in the U.S. and Latin America); Latino youth; and nongovernmental organizations and development. I’m doing research on what happens to communities and volunteers when youth services move from volunteer status to more formal programs provided by governments and other institutions. I have conducted quantitative and qualitative cross-national research on volunteerism in 12 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean region.
I interpret public service as an expression of civil society and am looking for its implications for social services. I have two basic assumptions: First, voluntary youth programs are an invaluable resource for social development. Second, compared with volunteer programs, more formalized programs can make a bigger contribution to social and economic development.