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.