Race at the Forefront: Sharpening a Focus on Race in Applied Research
Nine scholars gathered at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis for the inaugural conference, Race at the Forefront: Sharpening a Focus on Race in Applied Research. Hosted by the Collaboration on Race, Inequality, and Social Mobility in America (CRISMA), and Dr. Darrell Hudson, the scholars participated in conversations and networking with other researchers from diverse fields—all of whom center their work around race.
The conference focused on the concept of “race,” not as an individual characteristic, but as part of a structural force that shapes the systems, institutions, policies, and experiences that people of color live and work within. Researching these structural forces requires examining complex and pervasive issues, like structural and systemic racism.
In addition to insights into their research approaches, scholars overwhelmingly valued—as they describe in the video linked below—the sense of authentic support and connection among the conference attendees and the speakers. They also remarked on how inspiring and enriching it was to hear from so many experts whose research has race at the forefront, when often these researchers operate at the margins of their institutions and disciplines.
The scholars also appreciated a conference session focused on measurement and methodology, during which speakers emphasized the need for researchers to more closely examine what they are measuring and why when researching issues related to race. The speakers on the panel promoted the value of qualitative research, particularly when developing new measures for studying discrimination and racism, in order to capture the stories and lived experiences of those who live and work within unjust systems.
The conference speakers were all experts and dynamic speakers in their respective fields. Beyond being knowledgeable, they were able to break down complex concepts, theories, and methodologies, and could speak plainly to a room that included researchers from different disciplines, as well as community members. The skill of translating your research for different audiences is one that the Health Policy Research Scholars program supports scholars in honing and applying throughout the four years of the program.
Several scholars had the opportunity to meet with their HPRS coaches for the first time, and they all were able to make connections with faculty within different schools and departments at other institutions. Many of the scholars in attendance left the conference with new connections, dissertation advice, research collaborations, and a renewed dedication to continue incorporating race into their own work.
The Health Policy Research Scholars program would like to extend our gratitude to Dr. Darrell Hudson and CRISMA for inviting and hosting our Scholars to this seminal conference.