Carla Goar, Ph.D., Puts Sociology Expertise to Work as Director of Anti-Racism and Equity Institute

As director of Kent State University's Anti-Racism and Equity Institute (AREI), Carla Goar, Ph.D., has several goals for the institute including promoting anti-racist research that introduces ways to interrupt inequities and encourages community engagement.

Goar, a professor of sociology, knows that systemic racism is so entrenched, it will be difficult to eliminate it. However, the institute is interested in supporting scholarship that identifies and interrupts structural inequities that negatively impact communities and people of color.

The Anti-Racism and Equity Institute was established in the spring of 2021 and is one of many programs that the university has instituted to challenge racial inequality and advance equity for all.

“This institute sits with fellow institutes at the university level,” Goar said. “We join other institutes such as the Brain Health Research Institute, Healthy Communities Research Institute, Environmental Science and Design Research Institute, Advance Materials and Liquid Crystals Institute and the Design Innovation Hub.

The Anti-Racism and Equity Institute builds and strengthens the connections between its members who work in different departments, units, colleges, campuses and communities. This propels the exchange of information and collaboration that can lead to accessible, evidence-based solutions to racial inequity challenges.

“Currently we are supporting projects focused on coalition building between families and local public education systems, the experiences of Black undocumented college students, the ways that depictions of motherhood influence concepts of race and citizenship in American art, and employers’ policies and practices regarding the hiring of justice-involved individuals,” Goar said. 

In the case of the last project, Goar said the Anti-Racism and Equity Institute was instrumental in connecting the two researchers directing the project. The researchers wrote a successful proposal and collected preliminary data for an external grant which they received.

“We expect that their success will continue," Goar said. “We are proud to stand with and promote all our scholars and encourage others to join us. Please go to our website to read about the work of AREI scholars. We encourage all faculty to share their interests and scholarship with us.” 

Goar Accomplishes Many Firsts

Goar has been at Kent State for 12 years. She was the first Black woman to be promoted to full professor in Kent State’s Sociology department, becoming a professor in 2021 and an associate professor from 2010-2020.

From 2000-2006 Goar was an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Northern Illinois University and from 2007-2010 she was an associate professor. She was the first black woman to be tenured in the Department of Sociology at Northern Illinois University.

In 2000, Goar earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Texas A&M University, making her the first Black woman to get a Ph.D. in sociology there.  

She credits many people who influenced and promoted her training and career. There have been “individuals who sat on my thesis and dissertation committees, including my committee chair with whom I still work closely. And I have colleagues throughout the country who I can call on for advice and colleagues here at Kent State who consistently provide support for me in both my faculty and director roles.” 

A Sociologist Who is Interested in How Race is Activated in Groups

Goar was interested in race before she became director of the Anti-Racism and Equity Institute.

Her research looks at how to make groups work better by ensuring that the contributions of all people “have space to come forward and be heard.”

“Groups act as a microcosm of the larger society,” Goar said. “Individuals who have status in the larger society have status in groups. For example, men tend to have more status than women, and white individuals have more status than people of color. What can we do in groups to make sure that individuals, regardless of status, are able to contribute fully? This is an important question. Research shows that groups working together on tasks tend to do better than individuals working alone. Much of our time is spent in groups in the form of committees, teams and units. We want to make sure that our groups are as effective as they can be.”

The Academy is Goar’s Home

Despite all its downfalls and problems on college campuses, Goar loves “the academy.” She said it is a special place because young people come to college to learn new things and meet new people, which is transformative.

“This is where transformations occur. You come here and four years later leave a different person. You think about things you have never thought about. Befriended people you never thought you would befriend. To work in the academy, I feel lucky. It is life-changing.”

Get information about the Anti-Racism and Equity Institute.


POSTED: Monday, March 25, 2024 12:33 PM
Updated: Monday, March 25, 2024 03:37 PM
April McClellan-Copeland
Sydney Weber