Racially Just Research Initiative

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    DUSP logo with the text "Racially Just Research Initiative"
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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


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    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

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    Headshots of RJRI Microgrant Recipients

    From Left to Right: Natasha Ansari, Bianchi Dy

We seek to center racial justice within DUSP’s research practices across a wide variety of geographies, methodologies, and topical areas. 


The Racially Just Research Initiative grew 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. 

10 Racially Just Research Tenets

There are ten basic working themes of racially just research. They are described briefly here, and in detail in the paper “Advancing Racial Justice Research In Architecture, Urban Planning, and Allied Fields.”

Theory of Change

Articulate a theory of change by explicitly identifying avenues by which the research advances racial justice and supports racially just outcomes.

Racialized Difference is Socially Produced

Adopt an explanatory theory or framework that understands racialized difference as the product of social, rather than biological or otherwise naturalizing explanations. 

Reconciliation and Reparation

Develop research and enact processes that support those injured by racialized injustice in obtaining what they need to heal from and redress the injury. 

Racist Power Structures

Acknowledge racist structures of power and use the research process to share power in order to shift those structures. 

Methodological Tradition

Be transparent in disclosing how the project’s methodological traditions informs the work, and adopt methods that use decolonial methods and data sources.

Context and History

Acknowledge and understand the limitations of the researchers’ perspectives, and examine context and history through the positionality of the research team and participation of affected communities.

Identifying Agency

Uplift the assets and agency of racialized communities, fostering community self-determination and leadership. 

Belmont Principles

Protect human subjects of research by enacting and augmenting the Belmont Report’s ethical principles through an equity lens.


Center the leadership and decision-making of marginalized communities. 

Invite Critique and Reflection

Seek critical feedback and reflect throughout the research process.