Racially Just Research Initiative

Racially Just Research Initiative

The Racially Just Research Initiative grows out of the Racially Just and Decolonial Research Working Group’s efforts and focuses in particular on centering racial justice within DUSP’s research practices. 

In November 2023, the Racially Just Research Initiative awarded microgrants for the first time to a total of 22 MCP students, PhD students, and faculty within DUSP to advance this work. Awarded projects span diverse geographies, methodologies, and topical areas ranging from participatory map-making to studying MIT’s internal practices related to racial justice. The microgrant program also creates a community of practice within DUSP to reflect on and share best practices on how to apply the racially just research themes. 

Learn More

If you are interested in learning more about how to get involved with the Racially Just Research Initiative or to center racial justice as part of your research, please reach out to: 

Steering Committee: 

Mariana Arcaya
devin michelle bunten
Catherine D’Ignazio 
Holly Harriel 
Eric Huntley 
Anne Spirn 
Delia Wendell 
Sarah Williams
*AY22 - 23 

Program Leads (AY23-24):

Sophia Hasenfus, Diversity, Equity, Belonging Officer (shasen at mit.edu) 
Catherine D’Ignazio, Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Planning (dignazio at mit.edu) 
Nicole Wong, Research Assistant, MCP '25 (nkwong at mit.edu)

Timeline

In the wake of the racial reckoning gripping the nation in the summer of 2020, DUSP committed to advancing racial equity across its work and operations. 

  • On July 10, 2020 Black students and alumni internally released the “Black DUSP Thesis,” which called on the department to embed racial equity into its admissions, teaching, and research. 
  • In the fall of 2020, DUSP organized a racial justice teach-in to substantively reflect on these questions in the classroom.
  • In 2021, DUSP created a “Teach-in for Racial Justice at DUSP” book to capture the process and reflections that grew out of the fall teach-in.
  • In 2021, the DUSP Racially Just and Decolonial Research Working Group was formed to study racial justice in the context of research and conducted a landscape scan, informant interviews, and a community survey.
  • In May 2022 this Working Group published a research report from these findings entitled “Advancing Racial Justice Research In Architecture, Urban Planning, and Allied Fields.” This report identified 10 key themes that are significant to racially just research.
  • In October 2023, the Racially Just Research Initiative awarded micro-grants to 22 graduate students, PhD students, and faculty within DUSP to advance racially just research and create a community of practice within DUSP. RJRI also hosted two educational workshops on racially just research themes and how to develop a research theory of change.

RJRI Microgrant Recipients ('23 - '24)

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    Headshots of Ten Racially Just Research Initiative Grant Recipients

    From Left to Right Starting with Top Row: Alejandra A Martinez, Austin Cole, Margaret Haltom, Diamond Thompson-Smith, Milan Chuttani, Cindy Xie, Lia Downing, Simone Delaney, Anushka Shahdadpuri, Alessandra Smith, Aarthi Janakiraman


     

  • Image
    Headshots of Ten Racially Just Research Initiative Grant Recipients

    From Left to Right Starting with Top Row: Trace Allen, Hazel O'Neil, Claudia Tomateo, Anisha Gade, Archer Thomas, Nikki Stevens, Devora Barrera Gonzalez, Simmone Stearn, Lisbeth Shepherd, Joe Rowell

  • Image
    Headshots of RJRI Microgrant Recipients

    From Left to Right: Natasha Ansari, Bianchi Dy