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Race and Inequality in Higher Education

There is a pressing need to address and eradicate racial injustice from institutions of higher education across the country. The most effective responses to this complex situation are informed by collaboration among scientists, social scientists and humanists.  Mutual insights from psychology, sociology, public policy, and higher education are further enriched and deepened through their intersection with the study of anthropology, culture, economics, history, politics and spatial planning.  Training researchers across these areas will advance the development of meaningful interventions in the higher education environment, refine our ability to assess these interventions quantitatively and qualitatively, and enhance our opportunity to engage public audiences on this topic.  Doctoral students with this background will be better positioned to pursue research careers in academe and a variety of employment sectors.

Possible Areas of Study

We are seeking to recruit a cohort of doctoral fellows who are committed to leveraging interdisciplinary perspectives and mixed research methods to advance solutions to racial inequality in higher education. Students will have the opportunity to collaborate with faculty and other graduate students in programs across Arts & Sciences, Education and Human Development and Public Policy in analyzing a variety of topics, such as:

  • The norms that structure social and academic life;
  • The physical campus space and its effect on student experience;
  • The sociological and historical context of academic institutions;
  • Institutional policies and practices in higher education;
  • The history and theory of interventions to improve campus racial climate and reduce racial inequality; and
  • Post-graduation psychosocial outcomes specific to BIPOC students.

Mentoring Plan and Resources

Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellows will have coordinated access to the following resources and opportunities at UVA.

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Supplemental Advising and Course Selection

Students will have a primary advisor in their formal PhD disciplinary home as well as a secondary advisor outside of their department (selected from the list of faculty mentors). All students in the cohort will complete a minimum of three designated fellowship courses across their first two years of graduate study. Students’ primary advisors will help them select courses focused on issues of race and inequality in higher education that are offered in Psychology, the School of Public Policy, and the School of Education and Human Development.  Advisors will also work with the fellows and their doctoral program directors to integrate this training with other coursework in their disciplines.

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 Research Colloquium and Practicum

During the first two years of study, students will participate in biweekly meetings as a cohort alongside faculty mentors. These meetings will provide a unique training space, as well as facilitate connection and collaboration among fellows and mentors as a larger collective. These meetings will be designed as a space to workshop new research projects and grant ideas; review emerging research on race and inequality in higher education; and periodically engage outside speakers who will present virtually to the group. Moreover, fellows will each be expected to make at least one formal research presentation to the group annually so that they can develop and hone their presentation skills in a supportive context. Importantly, this collection of scholars also will bring their research findings to bear on UVA practices and policies. Fellows will actively seek out opportunities to present their research to members of UVA’s administration and to make recommendations for anti-racist action based on their research findings.

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Conference Travel

Students will receive financial support to present their work at one national conference during each of their second and third years of enrollment. It is expected that students will present research conducted in collaboration with other fellows.

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Grant Mentorship

Students will be supported in applying for external fellowships both for pre-doctoral and dissertation research awards. All fellows will be intensely mentored through the application processes by the team of faculty mentors. The interdisciplinary training they receive will position fellows to propose innovative and timely research projects that will be appealing to funders.