The National Center for Institutional Diversity will expand its current multi-institutional Diversity Scholars Network (DSN) to include a UM-specific component. As part of this work, the NCID will conduct a census of university faculty and researchers whose scholarship intersects with diversity, equity and inclusion, defined broadly. They will also create a U-M research advisory group representing an array of disciplines and academic units. The primary goals will be to develop infrastructure and programming for the campuswide network, promote and facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration and catalyze cutting-edge diversity research and scholarship.

Year Four Progress

NCID engaged its University of Michigan DSN members in a number of ways this year. Our Winter 2020 series of panel discussions on researcher/scholar identity featured U-M faculty from a variety of disciplines. The Network also promoted and supported the scholarly efforts of its members through NCID research briefs, a monthly newsletter, and various grant funding programs. In addition, work is underway on a campuswide directory of University of Michigan scholars conducting DEI-related scholarship across all 19 schools and colleges.

In Fall 2019, the DSN added 139 new members—25 from U-M—representing 91 institutions of higher education. University of Michigan scholars now comprise approximately 18 percent of the total DSN membership. This past academic year was especially active in terms of DSN activities, despite the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Winter 2020, NCID hosted a series of panel discussions for U-M DSN members on researcher/scholar identity. The first session, titled “Researcher Reflexivity and Positionality When Your Research Is about You,” focused on professional opportunities, challenges, and considerations in studying groups and communities with which one shares an identity membership. The second session, “The Ethics of Researching a Group You Don’t Belong To,” explored issues such as scholarly rigor and ethics when studying groups and phenomena as an “outgroup” member. A third session titled “There is No Such Thing as Objective Research” was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic but will be offered virtually at a later date.

During Year Four, NCID continued to support and catalyze DSN research and scholarship through grant funding. In 2019, 21 scholars received financial awards through our Change Grants and Pop-Up Grants initiatives. In addition, we continued to work with four groups of scholars who received awards through our Think-Act Tank grant program, aimed at stimulating interdisciplinary collaboration.

NCID convened a DSN advisory group of seven scholars representing multiple U-M units and departments to provide guidance, direction, and advice for the DSN. They met twice in summer 2020, with semesterly meetings scheduled for each upcoming semester. The DSN advisory group consists of scholars from the fields of psychology, linguistics, sociology, and public health, who range from clinical, assistant, associate, to full professors.

We also worked to promote and elevate our diversity scholars and their scholarship through NCID research briefs. Over the past months, members of our network who have been actively analyzing the impacts of COVID-19 on societal inequalities have been featured in two NCID research briefs — “Diversity Scholars Address COVID-19: In the News” and “Diversity Scholars Address COVID-19: Emerging Scholarship”.

Work continued on “Mapping Diversity Scholars at U-M,” a campuswide directory of U-M scholars conducting DEI-related scholarship across all 19 schools and colleges. To date, almost 400 diversity scholars have been identified and will be included in a website scheduled for launch in Fall 2020.

Responsibility: National Center for Institutional Diversity