Race Forward

In Fall 2008, The Program in African & African American Studies with the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity launched a new, campus-wide initiative called “Race Forward.”


“Race Forward” is a $300,000 five -year, interdisciplinary project that involves scholarly fields of research and teaching that have not extensively engaged critical race studies and where scholars of color have been underrepresented. Co-sponsored by many departments and programs, and generously supported by the President’s Fund, “Race Forward” creates innovative alliances among departments, centers, faculty and students to engage--on a rigorous, scholarly level--issues too often set aside as politically untouchable.

Ultimately the goal of “Race Forward” is to incorporate scholarly approaches to race into curricula and research that, historically, have been considered unrelated to the study of race. “Race Forward” alliances work with faculty diversity initiatives to develop, attract and retain faculty and students of color, but are also, as importantly, meant to educate non-minority students and colleagues, and to extend critical discussions of race into new fi elds of study.

“Race Forward” offers five thematic foci across five years, each of which will tie together various talks, dinners, courses, consortia, symposia and other collaborations. 2008-09 focuses on Race & Faith; 2009-10 examines Race & the Environment; 2010-11 we turn our attention to Race and Human Health; and in 2011-2012 we will focus our initiative with Race & Education. In 2012-2013 we will conclude our initiative with Race & Technology. The first three years relate closely to two of Stanford’s Challenge Initiatives and all five years respond to the University's call for multidisciplinary research, teaching, and learning that will prepare citizens for the 21st century.

Race Forward: Faith 2008-2009
The Program in African and African American Studies, in collaboration with Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Religious Studies, The Taube Center for Jewish Studies, Stanford Center for Buddhist Studies, the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, the Black Community Service Center, the Center for South Asian Studies, and the Center for African Studies, among many others across campus, devoted 2008-2009 to exploring the intersections of race and faith.

This year, “Race Forward” gathered together an exciting range of undergraduate courses, including the Distinguished Lunch and Lecture Series in Spring, “AFRICAAM 101: Race & Faith” with internationally-renowned speakers from various disciplines across the country. Each week, a distinguished scholar explores the complexities of race and faith and their manifestation in artistic expression, culture, history, language, literature, music, politics, religion and society among different groups of people in the U.S. and globally. The scholars’ topics ranged across faith practices and ethno-racial commitments and included Eddie Glaude, Jr., Azim Nanji, Vijay Prashad, James K. Lee, Todd Ramón Ochoa, John L. Jackson, Jr., Davíd Carrasco, Joycelyn Moody, J. Kameron Carter, with Charles Ogletree concluding the course with the 2009 St Clair Drake Lecture.

We also offered student-focused discussions on race and faith in partnership with community centers and the Office of Religious Affairs; roundtables in residential centers through our Dorm Salon Series, weekly Diaspora Tables, and quarterly and a Faculty Race & Faith Salons, which enabled lively conversations among colleagues held in various centers of faith across campus, and which functioned as an intimate, intellectual space that operated as a cross between a classroom and a living room.

Race Forward: Environment 2009-2010
The Program in African and African American Studies is worked with faculty leaders of the University’s Challenge Initiative on the Environment and Sustainability to plan courses and opportunities that address the intersections of environmental science and race. Program leaders are planed to bring expertise to help selectively incorporate race research into interdisciplinary environmental study, particularly since environmental scholarship regularly engages issues of cultural difference in relation to environmental stewardship and policy.

Among other projects, AAAS and environmental science faculty leaders are interested in developing critical race workshops with the Research Institute at the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (RICSRE), the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research, and the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Environmental and Resources (IPER). They also developed curricula within the Program in Human Biology, reviving and adapting an Environmental Justice undergraduate course with a service learning component, and working with eco-arts and eco-criticism programming and student groups on campus.

A primary goal of this theme is to develop leadership, scholarship, and curriculum that allowed students to reconcile discourses of law, public policy, technology, and race. To this end, AAAS with CCSRE also created innovative programs with the Woods Institute for the Environment and the Human Biology, Earth Systems, and Environmental Engineering Departments, Anthropology, Social Psychology, Philosophy, English, the Institute for Diversity in the Arts and the Stanford Institute for Creativity in the Arts, among others.

Race Forward: Human Health 2010-2011
AAAS and the Research Institute at the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (RICSRE) collaborated with the School of Medicine Faculty Fellows Program to link this theme closely with the Challenge Initiative on Human Health. Race inflects nearly every modern medical concern, from HIV/ AIDS to genomic studies, from cross-cultural approaches to medical practice to the development of race-specific pharmaceuticals. This third initiative focused primarily on developing leadership among graduate students and junior faculty by providing opportunities to examine how race impacts medicine.


Race Forward: Education 2011-2012
AAAS will explore the significance of examining race in education to fully understand ways educators and researchers address the educational inequalities that persist. In collaboration with the Black Community Services Center (BCSC), Education and Society Theme House (EAST), and the Institute for Diversity in the Arts (IDA), we will host panels, research presentations, lectures, town hall meetings and documentaries focused specifically on Race and Education. This forth initiative will primarily focus on providing opportunities for undergraduate students to learn about educational scholarship that examines issues of race and education.


Race Forward: Technology 2012-2013

AAAS will explore the significance of examining race in the tech industry and research on technology. In Spring 2013, AAAS will be offering a weekly lecture series to expose and introduce underrepresented groups to the world of technology by creating a space where the idea of starting can lead to a "Start Up". In collaboration with Stanford's Program in Science, Technology, and Society, AAAS will bring scholars and industry leaders to campus each week. The AAAS "Race & Technology" course endeavors to de-code the language of technology creation, how to build a team, problem solving, pitching an idea, leveraging the work of all disciplines in creating an entrepreneurship mindset.




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