Research Institute for the Study of Language in Urban Society

Contact Information
Contact Information

The Research Institute for the Study of Language in Urban Society (RISLUS) conducts research on language, literacy, and bilingualism and their development and acquisition in urban societies. RISLUS is located in the Linguistics Program at the Graduate Center, CUNY.


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The central mission of RISLUS is to investigate those research questions that are at the nexus of language and the urban environment, especially in New York City. Basic and applied research is conducted on:

  • structural questions, approached from a variety of theoretical viewpoints, associated with the language of urban dwellers, especially but not limited to those who are bilingual or bidialectal;
  • social, and educational issues associated with the language of urban dwellers, with special emphasis on bilingual and bidialectal communities and their language-related strengths and needs;
  • the language and language-learning profile of students at the elementary, secondary and college levels, especially at CUNY and in the NYC public schools, and on the progress of these students in the acquisition of English as well as in the strengthening and development of their native languages and other modern languages;
  • the acquisition of academic literacy skills in English by all students, but especially by students whose native base is another language or another variety of English;
  • the acquisition of academic literacy skills in the home languages of emergent bilinguals, leading to full bilingualism built on knowledge and skill in both the home language and English;
  • ways to make language instruction at the NYC public schools and at CUNY, in both ESL and modern languages, a model for public schools and universities throughout the country.

Latest News

Aug 15, 2017

National Science Foundation Grant Will Support Doctoral Research of Urban Education Student

The National Science Foundation awarded $300,000 to researchers at The Graduate Center's Research Institute for the Study of Language in Urban Society (RISLUS) and New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development to establish a partnership with bilingual teachers at three New York City public middle schools in Washington Heights.

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  • Faculty News

Oct 7, 2016

GC Symposium Highlights Interdisciplinary Approaches to Multilingualism in Education

On September 23, 2016, the Research Institute for the Study of Language in Urban Society (RISLUS) hosted Multilingualism and Language Empowerment, A Response to Inequality, a Graduate Center Symposium. The symposium highlighted the value and relevance of language and literacy projects conducted at the Graduate Center to New York's multilingual population. Presenters shared multilingual approaches to improving access to education for immigrant students and speakers of minority languages.

Apr 20, 2016

Call for Papers - Multilingualism and Language Empowerment: A Response to Inequality

Language and language choices play a significant yet often unacknowledged role in fostering inequality. This is most evident in the spheres of education, the work place and public health, where insufficient services in 'minority' languages result in disparities and lack of opportunities for speakers of those languages.