Anti-Racism and Equity Institute Builds on Kent State’s History of Activism
The year 2020 saw the rise of Asian Hate and the killings of Black Americans, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, all of which were complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, sparking movements across the country that continue to shape society today. Kent State University is stepping forward to contribute to this societal change.
Last Spring, the Kent State University Board of Trustees approved the Anti-Racism and Equity Institute. This institute creates an important interdisciplinary hub for faculty, students, staff and community members engaged in race and anti-racism scholarship, activism and education. The Kent State Board of Trustees anticipates that the institute will elevate Kent State to be an exemplar in race scholarship and community engagement.
“Kent State is a university that is known for its activism,” Director of the Anti-Racism and Equity Institute Carla Goar, Ph.D., said. “After the summer of 2020, we asked, ‘What can universities do? What can Kent State do to move anti-racist work forward?’ One option was to create a space that would support and amplify the good work that faculty, staff, and students are doing here to advance anti-racist work.”
With more than 100 faculty and staff expressing interest in its mission, The Anti-Racism and Equity Institute will provide support for researchers and opportunities for collaboration across multiple departments, colleges and campuses. The institute’s programs will eventually include a faculty fellows program, visiting professionals in residence, annual symposia and speaker events, graduate and undergraduate student scholarships and a competitive seed grant program, as announced in a statement provided by the university in March 2021.
The first year of the institute will be a year of building, with a priority of recruiting members from both within and outside of the university, according to Goar.
“We hope to have faculty, staff, students and community members working together, promoting community research,” Goar said. “Ideally this institute will serve as a hub for scholars and activists to come together to tackle issues and racial equity. We want to make sure the institute is beneficial for all people.”
As part of the educational mission of the institute, the Institute will offer a special topics course in the spring called The Tulsa Project (SOC 42095) that will focus on the rise and destruction of Tulsa’s Greenwood District, also known as Black Wall Street. The course will compare the area’s socio-historical context of 1921 with the racial context of 2021, with a focus on anti-racist planning and community (re)building.
The class will be informed by literature in sociology, political science, public health and records produced by the University of Tulsa, the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission and the Tulsa Historical Society.
In the future, the Institute hopes to offer funding to students who are engaged in anti-racism scholarship and activism.
For more information on the Anti-Racism and Equity Institute, visit https://www.kent.edu/kent/news/kent-state-board-trustees-establishes-two-new-research-institutes and http://www.kent.edu/arei