OVPR anti-racism grants awarded to eight research teams


The Office of the Vice President for Research has awarded $450,000 in grants across eight research teams to explore persistent racial disparities embedded in systems ranging from health, education and wealth to criminal justice and infrastructure.

These grants are jointly administered and advanced in partnership with the National Center for Institutional Diversity’s Anti-Racism Collaborative.

“If we truly want to achieve equity and justice for all, it is absolutely essential that we gain a deeper understanding of the complex racial inequalities that are embedded in nearly every facet of our society,” said Trachette Jackson, assistant vice president for research – diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and a University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor.

“As a public research university, we have a unique opportunity to generate new knowledge around these complex racial inequalities so that, together, we can identify and implement solutions that spur positive change within our communities.”

This is the second cycle of antiracism grants awarded to U-M researchers since OVPR launched its Research Catalyst and Innovation Program last year.

“We are extremely excited for the trajectories of the research emerging from this program, and we are energized by the scale of response, extent of unit participation and diversity of interdisciplinary teams who responded to this call and are engaging in this work,” said Geoffrey Thün, associate vice president for research – social sciences, humanities and the arts, who oversees the RCI Program.

“The Anti-Racism Grants program is helping to catalyze expertise and intellectual leadership in this space at U-M.”

The grants will support a wide range of research projects, ranging from the examination of political representation among Puerto Ricans, Indigenous people’s experiences of climate injustice, and the link between discrimination and mental health in Asian youth.

“The grantees represent the broad and deep expertise on racial inequality and injustice that we have at U-M,” said Elizabeth R. Cole, NCID director, and professor of psychology, women’s and gender studies, and Afroamerican and African studies in LSA.

“NCID is excited to continue our work with OVPR to amplify and support interdisciplinary collaborations — across our schools and colleges, and with community partners — to address racial inequities and advance racial justice in systems, policies and practices.”

Below is a summary of the eight selected OVPR Anti-Racism research projects:

The Puerto Rico Public Opinion Lab (PR-POL): Amplifying the Voice and Representation of Puerto Rico

Team leads: Mara Ostfeld (Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and Poverty Solutions), Luis Raúl Cámara (University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus), Ken Kollman (Center for Political Studies), Julia Lippman (Center for Political Studies), Mayra Vélez Serrano (University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus) and Elizabeth Zechmeister (Vanderbilt University)

Goal: Through a partnership between U-M and the University of Puerto Rico, this project will design and administer the first panel survey of a large, representative sample of Puerto Ricans living on the island. Using this survey infrastructure, the team will regularly collect, analyze and disseminate information on Puerto Rican attitudes toward a range of policies, and Puerto Rican experiences.

Project D3 – Decomposing the Discrimination-Depression Link Among Asian Adolescents

Team leads: Mieko Yoshihama (School of Social Work), Yueqi Yan (University of California, Merced) and Jun Sung Hong (Wayne State University)

Goal: This longitudinal study will investigate trajectories of racial/ethnic discrimination experienced by Asians from adolescence to adulthood and their association with mental health over time. The team will explore how this association may differ by factors such as ethnic/cultural orientation, acculturation/enculturation and gender.

Factors and Processes that Influence Nonprofit Hospitals’ Ability and Willingness to Address Equity and Structural Racism Through Community Benefit

Team leads: Simone Singh (School of Public Health), Cherie Conley (School of Nursing) and Crystal Lewis (Saint Louis University Institute for Healing Justice and Equity)

Goal: The research team will interview community benefit managers in nonprofit hospitals across the United States to explore the factors and processes that drive hospitals’ willingness and ability to implement equity-focused community benefit initiatives — specifically those aimed at addressing the social and structural determinants of health.

Epistemic Reconstruction: Teaching Engineering Through the Lens of Urban Blackness

Team leads: James Holly Jr. (College of Engineering), CoE’s Center for Engineering Diversity and Outreach, Michigan Engineering Zone, Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program and School of Education’s Detroit P-20 Partnership

Goal: This project will investigate how centering urban Black youth’s knowledge production can formulate new meanings and purposes for engineering study and practice. The anticipated outcomes of this study include a foundational structure of a race-conscious engineering curriculum for high-school students, and a handbook for teacher-educators preparing future, pre-college engineering teachers.

Asians in Southeast Michigan: Information Networks and Placemaking as Responses to Racist Violence (1980s-present)

Team leads: Matthew Bui (School of Information), Anne Cong-Huyen (U-M Library and Digital Studies Institute), Ian Shin (departments of History and American Culture, LSA) and Anthony Vanky (Columbia University)

Goal: This research project maps the emergence of Asian ethnoburbs in southeast Michigan, examining how racist violence shaped, and continues to shape, suburbanizing Asian Americans’ relations with other communities of color. Using novel data sources, the team will explore the role of social networks in sharing vital information and shaping identity, and how digital technologies can preserve and uplift histories while also drawing attention to the historic erasure and invisibility of minoritized (sub)communities.

“If They Only Knew”: Informing Blacks and Whites about the Racial Wealth Gap

Team leads: Vincent Hutchings, Zoe Walker, Kamri Hudgins and Sydney Carr (Department of Political Science, LSA)

Goal: The research team seeks to find if specific groups (white liberals, white Democrats, and African Americans) were educated about any previously held misperceptions of racial wealth inequality in the United States would there be increased support for policies designed to reduce or eliminate the wealth gap.

Does Critical Reflection about Institutionalized Racism and Climate Change Promote Critical Action among Indigenous Peoples in the U.S.?

Team leads: Stephanie Fryberg (Department of Psychology, LSA; Research for Indigenous Social Action and Equity Center; Tulalip Tribes), Laura Brady (Department of Psychology, LSA; Research for Indigenous Social Action and Equity Center), Adam Farero (Department of Psychology, LSA; Research for Indigenous Social Action and Equity Center; Bay Mills Indian Community) and Kyle Whyte (School for Environment and Sustainability; Citizen Potawatomi Nation)

Goal: The team will explore Indigenous people’s experiences of and responses to climate injustice. Extending past literature on critical race consciousness, they will examine Indigenous people’s engagement in critical climate action, as well as the psychological and cultural factors that motivate this action.

Developing anti-racist faculty evaluation practices through an understanding of epistemic exclusion

Team leads: Isis Settles (departments of Psychology and Afroamerican and African Studies, LSA) and Kristie Dotson (departments of Philosophy and Afroamerican and African studies, LSA)

Goal: The team will survey U-M faculty to understand whether there are race, gender and academic field differences in their experiences of scholarly devaluation and how these experiences affect their workplace attitudes and intentions to remain at U-M and within academia.


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