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Peer Review and Quality Assessment in Research

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Those subject to peer review of their proposals for research funding or of their scholarly products view it as a significant hurdle to succeeding in their careers. To those outside of academia, peer review can be misinterpreted as cronyism that illegitimately rewards friends and allies.  That interpretation is far away from my experience.

The peer review process is founded on the belief that those at the cutting edge of their fields are best suited to judging the value of proposed new work. The rate of success for many federal government research grant proposals is less than 15%. Having served on scores of such review panels, I have vivid memories of the care and critical review that is exercised in the evaluative deliberations. With the success rate so low, the critical review is fierce in most panels.

For all fields, the same peer review process is used to judge the value of completed scholarly products. In those fields producing books, the prestige of publishers is related to the rigor of the review process. Editors jealously compete to attract the best work of the best scholars. Editorial boards give advice to the organization on the value of a given series. The author of a mediocre manuscript submits to a long sequence of presses before an affirmative decision to publish is given, if ever.

For those fields whose scholarship is disseminated through journals, peer review rigor is often reflected in the success rate of submissions, which for some journals hovers in single digit percentages. The decision of a journal is the result of critical reviews by peers in the area the article addresses. The competition is fierce.

So, in sum, most of the attributes of peer review act to reward the very best in scholarship. But there are weaknesses.

I have vivid memories of a scientist friend of mine, now one of the most highly cited in his field, in his early years of work. He was attacking the dominant paradigm in practice in his field and having repeated difficulties getting his work published. The rejections brought criticism, calls for more evidence, and resistance to his approach. He was forced to publish his work in less impactful, second-tier journals. All was not lost, as the value of his work was eventually recognized, albeit much more slowly that, in retrospect, it deserved to be.

Peer review is effective in evaluating the marginal contribution of work fully within the accepted framework of a subfield. Peer review performs less well for work disruptive of the status quo. Its conservatism in evaluating field-changing results is a weakness from one perspective, but a strength, from another, as it asks a higher level of evidence for such challenges to decades of accepted findings.

As the number of scholarly outlets increases with web-based journals and other electronic publications, the opportunities have increased to get one’s work disseminated. One hopes that path-breaking work has higher opportunity to see the light of day. In any case, honest criticism inherent in the peer review process remains a strength of the academic enterprise.

The Role of the Seminar in Intellectual Growth

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The new Intellectual Life Report of the main campus faculty proffers the argument that first year seminars may be important tools for the growth of our students. It’s an idea worth pursuing.

Universities offer unique lessons when faculty members reveal to students the passionate interests they have in their area of expertise. There are many ways that this can happen. Sometimes, there is a component of a lecture-based class that highlights the research area of the instructor. Students recognize these components by a noticeable animation in the instructor’s behavior. The excitement in the lecturer’s voice becomes contagious. Laptops are closed. Attention is paid. Memories are constructed. Increasing the opportunities for our faculty to deliver such content is worthwhile. For first-year students, contact with an active scholar in his/her field of expertise is a new experience.

Another key lesson underlying intellectual growth is “going deep.” This means different experiences in different fields. In some, it is very careful reading, slowly decomposing thoughts, reassembling them, imagining alternative meanings. Going deep in other fields exposes students to the edge of a dominant paradigm. It reveals the questions that are not yet answered. It may reveal a nagging puzzle facing the field. For first-year students, such activities are novel.

These experiences often accompany critique of content that is being consumed by the students. They are asked to challenge the ideas, methods, or conclusions of the authors they are reading. This criticism requires a level of attention that goes far beyond that necessary to regurgitate the content. The reader is looking for gaps in the logic, weaknesses in the execution of the research, or flaws in the conclusions. Few first-year students have experienced such exercises.

Perhaps the most important experience is linked to all of the above – the act of original scholarship or research. While many experts in a field have suspicions about the real contribution of undergraduate research, they miss, in my opinion, a real benefit of the research experience to the student. Regardless of the topic, regardless of limited sophistication in the field, the act of trying to answer a question that you yourself have crafted, one that captures your interest, brings unique value. First, you discover the feeling of “living by your wits.” It’s your question; you need to figure out how to proceed. Second, answering such questions most often proceed in unanticipated directions before you can wrestle them into submission. Experiencing that life cycle of work is difficult but thrilling. Third, the feeling that you have created a new thought or a new finding, however small, is the seed of lasting creativity. Psychologists talk about a trait, the “need for cognition,” which, I think, is nurtured through these experiences.

All of these experiences are enhanced when the students have an environment that allows them to communicate their work to others. This communication forces a certain translation from their deeper understanding to others who may not share it. They are exposed to the comments and suggestions of peers in this work. They learn the give-and-take of constructive criticism in real time. Few first-year students have been active participants in such dialogue.

Successful first-year seminars, proposed by the Intellectual Life Report, are not merely classes with a small number of students. They are pedagogical designs that, through the actions above and others, reveal to the student the joys of the life of the mind. They succeed when the students conclude that their role is not that of a receptacle into which information is poured. Instead, they are capable of shaping their own learning. They can self-teach. They can invent new combinations of information to interpret the world. These experiences can change how they benefit from later courses at Georgetown. Indeed, these are experiences critical to a life well-lived.

The Inquiring Minds of Students

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It is common for degree programs to have a set of required courses, taken by all who seek the degree, as well as a set of elective courses, subject to the choice of a student. As a student of statistics, one of my fondest memories was taking a statistical sampling course (required for me) with a graduate student from the archeology department (an elective for her). She wanted to import statistical methods into site investigations to increase the likelihood of discovery. Her presence in the class enlarged the set of practical examples we all, as students, struggled to apply to the theories we were learning. She made the class better for everyone.

My memory returns to that as I learn in my student advisory committees about student desires to enrich their education with electives outside their major focus, outside the school of their program, or outside their program’s campus. Increasingly, students want to broaden their knowledge with courses far outside their field. They see connections between diverse fields that the standard curriculum does not reflect.

We are striving to increase knowledge production at Georgetown by supporting the interdisciplinary inquiry that faculty members wish to pursue. It is logical, I believe, to support similar desires on the part of our students, whether or not we have previously conceived of the value of combining knowledge domains.

The newest Intellectual Life Report of the faculty has urged a lowering of barriers for students to enroll in courses throughout the university. There are cultural, pedagogical, and logistical challenges that must be overcome to implement this recommendation.

Some faculty are worried about the burden of teaching students without prerequisite knowledge to succeed in a course. Certainly, we need to articulate the needed knowledge more clearly, to assure that students not taking the normal sequence of prior courses, are aware of what skills and knowledge are needed to succeed in the class.

Some school cultures breed strong identities for students inside the school, complicating the acceptance of those outside the school in their classes. We need effective ways to address those cultural weaknesses.

Schools vary greatly in their class sizes. The relative burden of adding one more student varies as a function of the class size. We probably need to have new conversations about class size differences across schools.

If a new section of an existing class must be developed because of demand external to the program, financial support is needed. This is another variant of the constant problem of calibrating the supply of talented instructors to the demand for given courses. We’ll need to address this.

Student formation may be harmed if they choose courses outside their field that add little to their cumulative knowledge. Widening the menu of elective courses probably requires more advising guidance from mentors.

All of the counterarguments for permitting more flexibility for students’ election of courses, I believe, can be addressed.

Careful structuring of academic practices to serve both our students and faculty can be achieved.

Facts Without a Point of View

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Daniel Patrick Moynihan is thought to have first uttered the famous line: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” This is a post about the need for facts to be assembled without a point of view.

One of the attributes of academia that, in my opinion, ensures its continuity is a sharp separation between the viewpoint of the human beings involved in assembling facts and the outcome of the fact-seeking.

Now, before I am attacked by the constructionist side of my brain: I am fully aware of how the cultures of disciplines act as a lens that focuses on some facts more than others. I accept that the dominant conceptual framework of a field can blind one to facts that contradict well-honed assumptions. I know how difficult it is for a lone critic to have impact on the accepted paradigm.

However, I also know how every field thirsts for new ideas, new approaches, new facts that extend current understanding. Each field rewards the new. All scholars believe their job is to get closer to a perfect understanding. Each work attempts to add the new. In addition, the dialectic among alternative conclusions, active peer review, and field debate are also deeply embedded in most academic fields. I am certain of nothing more than that we are critical of others’ work. We are suspicious of work that appears to have been too heavily manipulated by the author’s point of view. We are suspicious of over-stating or over-interpreting. Reputations depend on letting the material guide the outcome, not the predispositions of the scholar. The “facts” produced by the research must stand on their own.

At the societal level, democracies depend on a continual flow of facts about their current status. What portion of the population is employed for pay? What is the income distribution across households? What subgroups suffer health conditions at higher rates? How is the price of everyday necessities changing? What portion of the population is victimized by criminal acts? On this score, most modern nation states have constructed a similar divide between the units that collect information for common good uses and those in control of the reins of government. Most don’t let the political ideology of the current elected leadership affect the production of such information. The collection of those facts should be a dispassionate one.

These numbers are useful to a society only if they are credible to large portions of the populace. Credibility has both technical and socio-emotional features. For the large portions of the population, however, the technical aspects of such information are unknown or not easily understood. Hence, trust is the basis of credibility. Without trust in the authoring organization, these numbers have little value in a democracy. One source of trust is the separation of the production of statistical information from political interference.

Hence, just as in the academy, the collection of facts at a nation-state level must be driven by a “disinterested” search for the truth. “Disinterested” here means that investigator is indifferent to the outcome of the fact gathering. Just as in academic research, the continuous search for a better approximation to truth is the motivation of the author.

Societies that lose the ability to collect information in such a manner risk creating a citizenry that loses trust in the information itself. Without trusted information, the chances of an informed citizenry guiding the democracy are limited.

Research as Service

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It is common for faculty to assess their contribution to the university and their profession along three dimensions – teaching, research, and service. These roughly correspond to the three central goals of all universities – formation of their students, original inquiry and discovery, and advancement of the common good.

“Service” at most universities consists of administrative duties associated with the shared governance of the academy. This includes leadership and membership on the various committees common to an academic unit (e.g., curriculum, graduate admissions, seminar committees), as well as membership on university committees (e.g., school executive committees, presidential task forces). It reflects service to one’s profession, through committee and elected offices of national and international associations. Finally, it concerns community outreach – how have the candidates contributed their expertise to improvements for the general public.

For Jesuit universities, the service dimension has an added goal of aid to disadvantaged populations and the poor; indeed, a social justice mission is explicit in such universities. Land grant universities also tend to have more explicit goals involving community service, quite independent of their education and research mission. Such service is much more oriented to groups outside the university than the service of academic administration. Most Jesuit universities have ongoing opportunities for faculty and students to directly serve the community (e.g., tutoring in underserved neighbors, health clinics, legal advisory services).

This arbitrary differentiation of teaching, research, and service increasingly seems ill-suited to the lives of many of my colleagues. I’ve written about the movement toward integrating research and teaching more fully. Such research-based courses are beloved by students and give faculty members the chance to integrate two parts of their lives.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve grown to be uncomfortable with the stark separation between research and service. Georgetown’s service to the common good must be exercised as a university. That is the type of institution that we are. Many faculty represent fields that cannot have direct impact on issues of social justice. Most faculty, however, are pursuing agendas that can have large indirect benefits to the common good. For example, our colleagues in the basic sciences that pursue discoveries about the mechanisms that affect human organ performance may not directly improve the health of anyone. However, the amelioration of human health conditions may not be possible without their discoveries. When asked for reasons why they’ve chosen to use their knowledge and skills in the way they have, they will often note their hopes for indirect beneficial effects on humanity. Similarly, a mathematician using knowledge and skills to model climate change can be using his/her knowledge in hopes of informing policy for improvement of the earth’s future state. An economist who studies the impact of education on income can be motivated by hopes of extending the benefits of formal education to disadvantaged groups. A poet can produce words that motivate action towards the common good.

In short, scholarship can be conducted in service of the common good, with the goal of improving the state of the poorest among us. Universities collectively serve the common good when the research questions pursued by their faculty and students can be a piece of effective action to serve these needs. Some of our expertise directly serves; other fields of knowledge can only indirectly serve. Nearly all our scholarly work, however, can be part of the solution.

Global Competition, Global Diplomacy, and Academic Research

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A colleague of mine recently reminded me that, during the Cold War, nuclear physicists in the Soviet Union and the US continued scientific exchanges. In the opinion of some, these exchanges were critical to the eventual diplomatic agreement between the two countries regulating nuclear armaments.

Academics can easily build bonds with those working in the same knowledge domain, regardless of where they live. Sometimes these encounters take place in professional conferences, where those from several countries describe their work to one another. This free sharing of work is motivated, of course, partly by the selfish desires of individual scholars to obtain praise from the peers, but also by the obligatory acknowledgement of the dependence of one’s own work on the prior work of others. Cross-national dependencies and collaborations are common.

Ignorance about this sharing culture can lead to misinterpretations of comparisons across countries in scholarly activities. For example, a recent report compared countries on inputs and outputs of investments in research.  The first figure below plots national expenditures on research and development between 1981-2015 for major groupings of nation-states. The United States leads in expenditures (adjusted for purchasing price differences) throughout this period, but in the last 10 years the rate of increase by China is much higher than all countries.

In one sense, the first graph reports financial inputs to the research and development sector of the societies. The second graph reports one output – the number of peer reviewed articles in science and engineering fields between 2003-2016 (the last few years of the first chart). Here the European Union leads for every year, but the rate of increase for China again exceed other countries in the past few years. China passed the US in number of articles in 2016.


With the perspective of competition among nation-states, it’s tempting to conclude that the US is “losing” in knowledge production across the world. A nationalistic reaction to such information is, however, myopic.

Such a reaction, I believe, ignores two attributes of academic research. First, the rewards of individual academic scholars derive from wide dissemination of their work. They seek broad sharing; they revel in reactions and praise of their work by others; they carefully monitor the impact of their work on others. Hence, the work of one country’s scholars is available to all. Knowledge is freely shared globally. The “profits” of higher scientific volume cannot be retained only by the country of the scholar. Second, as the story of the nuclear physicists in the Cold War illustrates, many scholars thrive on collaboration and collegial interchange. They don’t conceptualize their work as part of the national production of knowledge or an advancement of proprietary value but rather part of the product of a global group of scholars working in a similar area. These groups form inter-nation ties that are strong.

In a world where conflicts between countries may arise, academic exchanges and scholarly collaborations become even more important. Investment in research is not just good for a country that invests, it’s good for the world and the ties among societies.

Critical Thinking, Imagination, Creativity, Interpretation, Design Thinking, Problem Solving, Self-Teaching, Inquiry, Scholarship, Research

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One of the joys of being a provost is learning a bit about the cultures of diverse areas of study within the university. Some fields are relatively united around a strong conceptual framework identifying key questions and methods to answer them. Other fields are debating what key questions should be addressed or what methods, used to answer them.

The fields also vary in their nomenclature for research or scholarship. “Discovery” as a word implies facts waiting to be uncovered. “Interpretation” implies the existence of alternative knowledge from the same entity (e.g., a text, an object). Both require an invention on the part of the student. Sometimes we label the invention a new “hypothesis;” sometimes it is creating a novel interpretation or critical review of a pre-existing piece of work. So, the different fields have developed different words to describe these methods of advancing insight — critical thinking, imagination, creativity, interpretation, design thinking, problem solving, self-teaching, inquiry, scholarship, research.

These variations are relevant to challenges facing higher education today. We now know that most of our current students will live beyond 100 years. Further, the world they inhabit will repeatedly create and destroy whole occupational classes, industries, and life styles. It seems clear that the content of what we teach in some fields will be radically different 30-40 years from now, yet our graduates may then only be in the middle of their work careers. What will they need, when they’re 80 years old, facing the elimination of their third or fourth occupation, to retool, to learn a new field, so that they can enter their last occupation before retiring at 95 years old?

The leaders of the future must be nimble self-teachers. How do students learn to be self-teachers? Self-teaching is a lot like original research or scholarship.

Those disciplines with very well-developed paradigms, organized about a set of integrated concepts and practices, tend to have distinctive pedagogical strategies. They start with fact-based courses that introduce the student to key sets of knowledge, with successive courses building upon the early ones. In such fields, only the later classes in the major expose the students to the cutting-edge problems the faculty themselves are currently researching. At that point, they too can begin original research.

In contrast, fields that have diverse perspectives, looser frameworks, more open scopes, can allow the student more immediate participation in the process of invention within the discipline. Such disciplines can introduce students to original inquiry much earlier in their exposure to the field.

Regardless of the field, the faster we can get students working in original research, the faster they can acquire skills that will serve them in the later years of their lives. Ideally, the future of Georgetown liberal education will give each student research-methods’ skills from every major field of human knowledge.

In short, research in all areas of study depends on critical thinking (or whatever they call it). Graduates who know many different research methods will be more successful in the future than those who have a more limited set of tools. At Georgetown, the innovation in teaching methods, the integration of research and teaching into courses, and the developments in experiential learning will assure that students become familiar with multiple methods during their time here. If we continue to advance these initiatives, we can be more assured that the decisions of 80-year-old Georgetown graduates will be well grounded in diverse self-teaching skills.

Venturing into Entrepreneurship

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A few weeks ago, the McDonough School of Business, based on a gift from the Leonsis family, announced the opening of the Georgetown Venture Lab, a facility within the space of WeWork White House, just a baseball throw from the White House.

The purpose of the site is to provide current students and alumni a space to develop their new enterprises. Most of these have the goal of offering a new product or service, in hopes of building an organization, bringing on employees, and making a profit. Some are oriented to social entrepreneurship, probing ways that health, economic, or cultural needs might be fulfilled through a self-sustaining nonprofit organization.

Georgetown Venture Lab is large open environment room, with lines of desks and nearby seating areas. Like all WeWork spaces, it exudes energy of innovation and sharp thinking. Ideation seems the coin of the realm.

At the current time, there are 28 different enterprises that are pursuing their dreams, from an organization offering pop-up HIV screening in underserved areas to an organization using artificial intelligence approaches to negotiating a purchase of an automobile. Some, by virtue of sharing space, have started unanticipated collaborations.

My visit to the Venture Lab was prompted by the annual award ceremony of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Alliance (GEA), a group of alumni who themselves are entrepreneurs, or who are devoted to supporting entrepreneurs. Members of the GEA seek to connect student entrepreneurs to knowledgeable alumni who could support them.

The awardees varied from those in the class of 1988 to those in the class of 2016. The entrepreneur of the year was Doug Bouton, a mathematics and theology major, graduating in 2007, finishing law school in 2010. In his acceptance address, he told his story of discovering that a career in law was not fulfilling, despite helping him pay off large law school debts. Quitting a large firm after a little more than a year, with no other source of income, he began his plans for an ice cream manufacturing company. The early days were bleak, with repeated failures to launch and increasing debts. But the story gradually changed and in 2017, his ice cream was named one of Time magazine’s “inventions of the year.” Now Halo Top ice cream is one of the fastest growing consumer products in the country. Doug’s was a story of courage in discovering one’s authentic self, perseverance, and success.

What was common to all the acceptance speakers was spontaneous reflection about what a Georgetown education meant to them. It was about the values that they felt they learned at Georgetown. For many they saw their companies as the manifestation of those values, either in the services they offered, the actions of their company within their community, the employee culture they were attempting to build, or even their aspirations for their own behavior as an entrepreneurial leader. Making money was indeed important for the sustenance of the enterprise; doing good, however, was an explicit goal.

Prior to the award ceremony, I spoke with several students interested in entrepreneurship as a life’s work. One said something that stuck with me: “What attracts me is how much creativity is catalyzed when you have nothing to start with.” The pleasure of invention and the creative act was the motivation for that student.

It’s wonderful that Georgetown has the Venture Lab, as a home for such creativity.

Faculty Research Collectives

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One of the difficult, but thrilling, aspects of modern social science research is the exploration of how new internet-affiliated sources of data can inform traditional social science questions. A group of Georgetown faculty, partnering with counterparts at the University of Michigan, have been working together in this area over the past three years or so. Recently, they have come to refer to their group as the Social Science Social Media Collaborative (see collaborator list below). They collectively were awarded a multi-year Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) research grant to investigate how traditional social science surveys could be blended with social media data. The McCourt School’s Massive Data Institute is a key home for the Georgetown work.

The two data worlds (survey data and social media data) have fundamental differences. First, surveys are slow to be designed, collected, and analyzed. Social media data are being emitted second-by-second. Second, surveys usually measure many attributes on the respondents. Social media data tend to be quite lean in measures from any one platform at any one time (a tweet contains words produced by a subscriber at a specific moment). Increasingly, social science analysis uses many attributes to discover the important predictors of some phenomenon. Third, survey data are designed by researchers to answer specific research questions, each respondent is given the same question to answer. Much social media data are generated without any researchers involved; they are organic to the day-to-day lives of individual subscribers; they are often unstructured text, not numerical data. Fourth, the percentage of the human population covered by social media is highly variable across platforms, unmeasured, and thus problematic for use in inference to the larger population. In short, whether social media data are relevant to important social science questions is one of the current puzzles of the field.

Despite these unknowns, there is great hope that combining social media data with traditional survey data can provide new insights for the social sciences. This is relevant to the work of the Collaborative. It is an interdisciplinary team of computer scientists, communication scholars, developmental psychologists, political scientists, statisticians, and survey methodologists. Thus far, they are working on two domains – 1) the process of public opinion formation and 2) parental decision-making.

One metaphor for these first social science uses of social media data is the first use of a microscope by scientists in the 1600’s – seeing for the first time, aspects of physical entities that the human eye could previously not detect. Sometimes it’s not even clear what one is looking at. The immediate question is how does the new, more granular view integrates with the traditional more highly aggregated view.

Regarding political attitude formation, the group is comparing tweets by journalists and the general public during the 2016 election season to concurrent Gallup polling, news coverage, and other event measurements. They have taken all these data sources to pose a variety of questions – how do the issues of importance to survey respondents compare to the tweets of Twitter subscribers over the weeks of the campaign? How do key phrases of journalists to describe events get transmitted among them, what are the patterns of influence among them? Do survey respondents use similar phrases as Twitter subscribers to describe election events?

Regarding the parenting decisions and learning processes, surveys, blogs, parenting websites, and tweets are the data sources simultaneously examined. How do parents gain their information about how to parent? The initial findings are that Mom-focused behaviors in the social media data tend to concern health of the child; Dad-focused, about how to behave as a parent. Using network analysis (who follows whom), the gender of the parent was the key driver (e.g., Mom-focused accounts tend to follow other Mom-focused). Finally, it appears that Dads retweet more frequently than Moms. No survey has provided insights into Internet sources of parenting information in this way.

These are first looks from the new microscope. These scientists are asking the basic questions of how they compare to the traditional measurements. Without this basic understanding, we will make little progress at using this new data world to understand society. Kudos to the Social Science Social Media Collaborative!


(The collaborators include Leticia Bode, Caren Budak, Michelyne Chavez, Robert Churchill, Pamela Davis-Keane, Mei Fu, Chris Kirov, Jule Krüger, Jonathan Ladd, Linda Li, Colleen McClain, Zeina Mneimneh, Josh Pasek, Trivellore Raghunathan, Rebecca Ryan, Yiqing Ren, Stuart Soroka, Lisa Singh, Michael Traugott, Laila Wahedi, Yifang Wei, Xintong Zhao.)

The Georgetown Institute for Racial Justice

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I’ve written earlier about the university-wide effort to launch the Georgetown Institute for Racial Justice. The Institute will be a research and outreach organization. It will be a multi-disciplinary home for scholars at Georgetown and visitors from outside. It will be a coalition of research programs with different foci. Key foci would include racial injustice through research on inequalities (e.g., health, education, income, employment, housing, family, environment), diasporas, migrations, and the search for justice through research on social structures (e.g., legal, governmental, education systems, medicine, policy, voting, etc.). It will connect to the scores of scholars at Georgetown whose own scholarship relates to the social, economic, and health consequences of racial differences. It will use, whenever possible, the Washington community as a partner in its work and through those partnerships solidify the University as a good citizen of the city.

We are passing a threshold in the development of the Institute this semester. Last year the university requested proposals from units throughout the institution – proposals for new senior faculty members who would be jointly appointed in the Institute and in an existing academic unit.

We received a large number of proposals, each of them meritorious in its own way. A university faculty committee reviewed the proposals, evaluated them, discussed what combinations offered the best launch for the Institute, and selected four proposals. The four proposals are spread over all three campuses of Georgetown, the Law Center, the Medical Center, and the Main Campus:

School of Nursing and Health Studies, Department of Health Systems Administration
Growing attention to social determinants of health, stemming from and poor health conditions in communities of color, has produced a call to action for the health care sector. A joint hire between the department and Institute would strategically position the university to be an academic trailblazer and thought leader in promoting health equity – particularly by applying a racial justice lens to how health care is organized, delivered, and perceived. The NHS Department of Health Systems Administration will seek a thought leader in promoting health equity.

Georgetown College, Department of Performing Arts and the Department of African American Studies
It is crucial to keep the very public role of the humanities and the arts at the heart of our work on transformative social justice, as an acknowledgement of the long history of African American engagement with arts as activism. The Institute should take advantage of the large and influential set of arts organizations within DC to help fulfill its mission. A joint hire between those departments and the Institute will support the work of artists exposing structures that perpetual racial hierarchies and using their art to cultivate solutions to pressing social problems.

McCourt School of Public Policy
From public classrooms, to courtrooms, to voting booths, institutions meant to upheld the American ideals of “free and equal” continue to be manipulated and corrupted. As such, research at the cross-section of public policy and racial injustice is vital. This open joint search between the McCourt School and the Institute will bring to Georgetown a prominent scholar in public policy, economics, political science, sociology, public health, law or urban planning who produces impactful research on public policy and racial justice. 

Georgetown Law Center
Too often, we are reminded that the actions of the US justice system — from law enforcement, prosecution, trial outcomes, and incarceration – tend to vary by the race of the person experiencing the system. The importance of the issue demands that the Institute mount activities in this domain. The Institute should promote wider understand of the mechanisms which promote the persistence of racial inequities in the justice system at all stages of its processes. A joint search between the Law Center and the Institute will enhance and solidify the law school’s contributions to the problem of racism and the criminal justice system.

In a real way, these four appointments represent the founding generation of the Institute for Racial Justice faculty. They will shape the initial years of the organization as it grows its prominence in the world. Fifty years from now, after the Georgetown Institute for Racial Justice is an acknowledged leader in thought leadership regarding racial justice, they and their colleagues will be recognized as the founders of the Institute. We are very excited to be launching these efforts.

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