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Drexel-Funded Research Examines Racial Equity On and Off Campus

November 09, 2020

One of the grants will help the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, the Kline School of Law and School Education collaborate on the "West Philadelphia Community Dialogue Project."
One of the grants will help the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, the Kline School of Law and School Education collaborate on the "West Philadelphia Community Dialogue Project."

As part of its effort to become an active ally in the fight against racism, Drexel University, through its Office of Research and Innovation (ORI), provided over $100,000 in funding for faculty research projects focused on racial equity.

“Our scholars are not only driven to create new knowledge but are also driven to apply their scholarship to confront real world challenges and have impact,” said Executive Vice Provost for Research & Innovation Aleister Saunders, PhD, when the projects were announced in July. “The scourge of discrimination and racial inequality must be addressed head-on and we must seize this unique moment in history. It is our intention that this competition will bolster our scholars' efforts to use their scholarship to fight inequity, eradicate racism, and address systemic inequities.”

Through the Rapid Response Research & Development Fund, which is designated for urgent short-term research projects, ORI funded 22 projects from faculty and professional staff from nine colleges and schools (plus one institute). These research projects vary across disciplines and areas of society, from biases in law enforcement and machine learning to racial injustice in education to race-related stress and trauma. The winners were announced in July, and these short term projects will be completed in the coming months.

Six of those projects will look inwards to audit racial inequity at Drexel and its neighboring communities:

1. Project Title: “CASTLE Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Faculty Fellow”

Drexel Faculty/Professional Staff Project Investigators: College of Arts and Sciences Associate Professor and Co-director of CASTLE Jennifer Stanford, PhD, (Principal Investigator) and School of Education Professor Jason Silverman, PhD, (Co-PI)

Project Description: Drexel’s Center for the Advancement of STEM Teaching and Learning (CASTLE) will expand its Faculty Fellows program by hiring a Fellow to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in Drexel STEM undergraduate courses. The outcome is to affect learning and teaching at Drexel through providing and creating resources for the University community and providing support to faculty with questions.

2. Project Title: “The Interplay of Institutional Systems and the Academic Experiences of African Americans Males at Drexel University in STEM Cooperative (Co-op) Programs”

Drexel Faculty/Professional Staff Project Investigator: School of Education Associate Professor Alonzo Flowers, PhD

Project Description: This study will interview current Drexel African American male students in STEM disciplines to highlight, if any, systematic issues of inequity that the students encountered during their co-op experiences at the University. The findings of this study could shed light on ways in which Drexel co-op experiences could begin to acknowledge the nuanced experiences of African American males in STEM programs, thus allowing for a more critical understanding of the cultural needs of minoritized students at Drexel University. 

3. Project Title: “Critical Conversations in Urban Education’s Racial Equity Audit of the School of Education”

Drexel Faculty/Professional Staff Project Investigators: School of Education Associate Clinical Professor Deanna Hill, JD, PhD (PI); School of Education Clinical Professor Kristine Lewis Grant, PhD (Co-PI); School of Education Program Administrator Sherri Manson (Co-PI); School of Education Assistant Professor Ayana Allen-Handy, PhD (Co-PI)

Project Description: This racial equity audit will examine racial equity across the School of Education in terms of its students, faculty, staff, finances, and communication, which would inform and shape future planning and decisions within the school.

4. Project Title: “Developing Anti-Racism Community Dialogues: A Critical Race Participatory Action Research Project”

Drexel Faculty/Professional Staff Project Investigators: Kline School of Law Associate Dean and Professor of Law Susan Brooks, JD (PI); School of Education Assistant Professor Ayana Allen-Handy, PhD (Co-PI); Director of the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships John D. Kirby, Jr. (Co-PI)

Project Description: Local residents will hold community listening sessions with residents of the West Philadelphia Promise Zone neighborhoods to learn about their perspectives, needs and concerns related to racial justice, inclusion and equity. This will inform and add to the already-formed “West Philadelphia Community Dialogue Project,” which is held in partnership with the Good Shepherd Meditation Program to promote those kinds of conversations, practices and other approaches.

5. Project Title: “Research Training Pathway to SuperNova: The Wonders of ‘Why’”

Drexel Faculty/Professional Staff Project Investigators: College of Nursing & Health Professions Associate Professor Jennifer Nasser, PhD (PI); College of Nursing & Health Professions Associate Dean for Research Deborah Clegg, PhD (Co-I); Pennoni Honors College Director of Undergraduate Research & Enrichment Programs Jaya Mohan (Co-I)

Project Description: This project will develop and implement a research training and placement pipeline to expand and diversify the Drexel underrepresented minority students into Undergraduate Research & Enrichment Programs’ SuperNova Undergraduate Research Fellows Program for undergraduate students for significant achievement in undergraduate research.

6. Project Title: “Black Dragons: Understanding the Experiences of Racism, Racial Exclusion, and Racial Inequity Among Black Undergraduate and Graduate Students of Drexel University”

Drexel Faculty/Professional Staff Project Investigators: Dornsife School of Public Health

Research Professor Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD (PI); Global Engagement’s Director of Global Health Programs and the Dornsife Global Development Scholars Program Idris Robinson (Manager)

Project Description: This proposed study will investigate Drexel University’s response to racial inequities, police brutality and other social injustices experienced by Black people across the country, through the perceptions of students in the Drexel community. This research will be used to inform a model and best practice for developing transformative antiracism strategies that can be institutionally accountable and sustained.