USF launches research initiative to address racism



University of South Florida faculty members will embark on a year-long series of research projects exploring the perpetuation of systemic racism in society that has resulted in economic inequities, social injustices, police violence and other issues.

The initiative is designed to create deeper understanding of these complex problems while forging solutions and productive community partnerships.

A $500,000 fund has been jointly established by the Office of the Provost and USF Research & Innovation to support the first round of projects, which will be awarded by the end of August. USF faculty are invited to submit broadbased, multidisciplinary research proposals that involve diverse researchers from across the university.

‘New conversations’

The effort is guided by a newly formed task force of USF faculty and staff from campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and SarasotaManatee, known as the USF Research Task Force on Understanding and Addressing Blackness and Anti-Black Racism in our Local, National and International Communities.

It was prompted by several factors, including the long-standing issues of racism and institutional violence brought to the forefront by the recent deaths of Black men, women and children due to excessive force from law enforcement, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s Black communities and other concerns.

“The University of South Florida community is embarking on new conversations about addressing systemic racism and the role faculty, students and staff can play in creating greater understanding in our society,” said USF President Steven Currall, who called upon the university to  expand and enhance current efforts to promote inclusion, opportunity, civility and upward economic mobility in a June 8 letter. “Our researchers are well-positioned to help USF serve as a force for positive change and to lead transformation in our communities.”

First phase

It’s one of a number of actions planned by Currall and other university leaders in light of recent events and ongoing conversations with Black faculty, staff and students that will be announced soon.

“The content and mission of this initiative are directly responsive to a major recommendation included in a letter submitted to President Currall on behalf of Black employees at USF in June that calls on the university to expand resources for community partnerships and bring together teams of faculty, students and staff,” said Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, associate professor of sociology, member of the task force and member of the Black Faculty & Staff Association.

“USF is already demonstrating its commitment to engaging in ongoing and sustained efforts to address systemic racism because this is only the first phase of a broader plan.”



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