U-M researchers working on anti-racism, racial justice issues


Efforts are underway to expand the University of Michigan’s infrastructure and further coordinate activities that support new and existing scholars whose research focuses on anti-racism, racial equity and racial justice.

As part of the university’s anti-racism initiatives, the National Center for Institutional Diversity has been charged with launching the Anti-Racism Collaborative.

“The university has a rich portfolio of research, teaching and other activities that examine and address the role of racism in society,” said Provost Susan M. Collins. “I am pleased and proud to support this important work.”

“One component of our support is a set of anti-racism initiatives that will add to our strength in this area and nurture path-breaking ideas and approaches,” she said. “The research-focused initiative will provide infrastructure to undergird faculty-led projects and create opportunities for collaboration among scholars from different fields. We look forward to the ways in which this will facilitate the expansion of critical work.”

The interdisciplinary collaborative will:

  • Offer a variety of seminars, symposia and panels for faculty, students, staff and other U-M affiliated communities focused on multidisciplinary topics around racism, racial equity and racial justice research.
  • Provide grant funding to support research innovation and engagement of anti-racism research for public impact.
  • Provide scholarly and professional development opportunities for scholars and students whose research focuses on racism, racial equity and racial justice. 
  • Bring together small interdisciplinary groups of scholars to share ideas, projects and progress and leverage scholars’ respective expertise around research issues and challenges.
  • Offer small grants to support graduate student and undergraduate student engagement in projects focused on racism, racial equity and justice.

“The Anti-Racism Collaborative will work to identify, catalyze and support new connections, to promote interdisciplinary and intergenerational exchange and collaboration in ways that lead to new, innovative knowledge production, as well as enhanced sense of community and shared purpose.” said Tabbye Chavous, NCID director, associate vice president for research, and professor of education and psychology.

“As such, the collaborative is also a proactive strategy designed to support retention of faculty with anti-racist commitments through building a scholarly and action-oriented community.”

The work of the collaborative is particularly relevant as racial equity has become an increasing national and international focus. It complements the university’s commitment to hire at least 20 new tenure-track faculty members — versed in academic work on structural racism and racial inequality — over the next three years.

Chavous said a significant component of the collaborative’s efforts also will be to intentionally create social change through the translation, dissemination and engagement of research with nonacademic audiences.

“The provost’s initiative seeks to support innovation and collaboration not only in research but also in approaches for engaging anti-racism research with diverse public domains — from impacting policy to working with local communities,” Chavous said. “These efforts will require partnerships with a variety of campus units and communities in order to best leverage, share and apply expertise on strategies to subvert racism and its consequences in synergistic and impactful ways.”

To begin its work, the Anti-Racism Collaborative has launched a website that features a number of resources and offerings that are immediately available, including a scholars directory and a number of toolkits and video series. For example, “Young, Gifted, at Risk and Resilient” outlines research-based approaches to supporting the mental health of college students of color.

Another resource is “Unmasked: Anti-Asian Violence amid the COVID-19 Pandemic,” a series published in Spark, NCID’s online magazine for public diversity scholarship. This series explores the causes and consequences of the upswing in anti-Asian hate and how the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disparate impact on diverse communities. The website also includes a listing of upcoming activities, opportunities and resources, which will be updated regularly.

In early fall 2021, the collaborative plans to host events focused on advancing anti-racism in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine fields. The theme will center on cultivating a culture of racial equity in STEMM to support the success of Black students and scientists, and will include U-M and national scholars, students and leaders.

Later this week, details will be announced about a joint effort between the collaborative and the Office of Research to provide grants for interdisciplinary, cutting-edge research on racial inequality, anti-racism and racial justice. These grants will provide additional support to the provost’s anti-racism initiatives, strengthening opportunities for new and expanding research and scholarship.

“In the coming months and years, we anticipate many opportunities for other events, projects and offerings based on outreach to a variety of stakeholders and their feedback,” Chavous said. “Key to the collaborative’s success is engaging with and learning from our current community to create new connections, conversations and collaborations of research and research-based action.”


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