By Ryan Tran
To celebrate the launch of its Racial Equity Action Lab, the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) hosted a Tuesday panel addressing the collaborative interactions between academics, policymakers, media journalists and civic organizations that can help advance racial equity.
The new lab’s goal is to mobilize research insight by working with faculty, community and external partners to advance racial equity and to develop research collaboration networks among scholars and policy leaders.
Panel members discussed the various ways they had interacted with academia to further racial justice. Felicity Rose, the Director of Research and Policy for criminal justice reform at FWD.us, explained how she worked hand in hand with researchers from Cornell to research aspects of incarceration in America called Every Second.
“Experts in the field all came together,” Rose said. “We planned a survey … We were able to finally have real numbers on that, and show not only who’s touched by the system but how the disproportion grows as people get further into the system.”
A prevailing theme of the panel was how academia is currently evolving to fit its newfound role in advancing social justice, including where it’s falling short.
“Universities are not particularly well-configured to advance justice, and one of the projects that I think is exciting is that so many scholars, and particularly scholars and students of color, are involved in re-configuring universities, so that they’re better at this task,” said Scholars Strategy Network executive director Avi Green.
Stanford history professor and New York Times contributor Allyson Hobbs discussed the possibility of teaching curriculum to students in new ways, while also expanding the definition of curriculum.
“[W]e as scholars have such a responsibility and obligation to really try a different type of curriculum with different types of lecture and different types of discussion in our classroom that … our students are hungering for, a different type of education that is more rooted in the contemporary moment,” Hobbs said.
She also stressed the importance of inclusion and representation of varied diverse voices and perspectives in media.
Vox Media senior correspondent Dara Lind was the fourth and final member of the panel. Sociology professor Tomás Jiménez moderated the event.
Each panelist expressed hope that academia would help push toward racial equity in the future.
“[It’s] not just a mission anymore, it’s almost an urgent emergency,” Hobbs said. “The urgency of the university as a place that advances justice is so much more critical in this moment than it ever has been before.”