Monika Stodolska Ph.D., Associate Professor, Recreation, Sport and Tourism

Monika Stodolska primarily focuses on issues of cultural change and its relationship to the leisure behavior of ethnic and racial minorities. In the past, she has investigated the effects of leisure on identity development among young immigrants; the role of leisure in the adaptation of recent immigrants; leisure behavior among transnational migrants; and the effects of crime on physical activity and recreation among Latino youth. She considers the study of leisure behavior as part of broader investigations of quality of life issues among ethnic and racial minorities.

"I would like people to acknowledge and to understand the quality of life issues and the life conditions that many members of this society have to deal with on a daily basis," she said. "What's really important to me about my research is that leisure, sport, and physical activity cannot really be studied and understood in isolation from the broader environment in which many minority members live."

Much of Dr. Stodolska's recent research has focused on communities in the Chicago metropolitan area, in particular Little Village, which is largely Latino. In one of the research projects conducted in this community and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, she and RST colleague Kim Shinew examined the factors that affected the ability of Latino adults to engage in physical activity and outdoor recreation. One of the most important factors, they found, was crime in the community.

She and Dr. Shinew are now engaged in a study that will assess the general effects of crime, including fear of crime, experiences with crime, and perceived level of disorder in the community, on physical activity and outdoor recreation among Latino adolescents. This year they are conducting surveys and interviews with middle school students in the community, and in the next academic year, they are planning to work with high school students.