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Collaborative Research: Broadening Participation and Perspectives in the Study of Crime and Justice

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jody Miller

Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Rod K. Brunson


This proposal continues the successful collaboration of a group of scholars from diverse backgrounds (African American, Asian, Latino, and White), disciplines (Criminology or Criminal Justice, Family Relations, Law, Public Policy, Political Science, Social Work, and Sociology), and stages of career (assistant-, associate-, and full-professors, and graduate students) whose work is oriented to (1) broadening perspectives and participation in research on crime and criminal justice, and (2) improving the quality of research on the interlinkages among race/ethnicity, crime, and criminal justice. These scholars (the Racial Democracy, Crime and Justice Network, RDCJN) established a Summer Research Institute (SRI) and annual summer workshops as vehicles for pursuing these goals. The group has achieved a number of important successes that include graduating 68 young scholars from the nine SRIs held thus far. These faculty are publishing and gaining tenure. Indeed, 33 of the 68 have attained tenure, and many more will join this group over the next few years. Thus, the project is actively “participation” in STEM fields in an area with significant underrepresentation of minority scholars. Specifically, the extent of underrepresentation of scholars of color within criminology and criminal justice is relatively high. Among American Society of Criminology (ASC) members who report their race/ethnicity, just 5.6% are Black; 5.1% are Latino/a; 5.8% are Asian; 1% are American Indian, and 1.4% identify as “other.”

Besides fostering the academic career success of young faculty from underrepresented groups, the Racial Democracy, Crime and Justice Network has undertaken activities to improve research on the interrelationships among race/ethnicity, crime and criminal justice. The group has developed a comprehensive research agenda and undertaken collaborative projects to address the issues posed. Their efforts also include working to publish in mainstream sources so that the perspectives of underrepresented faculty become integrated into the mainstream of literature on crime and justice problems. Given their unique backgrounds, experiences, and vantage points on crime and criminal justice, members of underrepresented groups bring alternative perspectives, approaches, and types of data to bear in studying these topics. To the extent that such alternative approaches shed light on criminal offending and victimization, the operations of criminal justice agencies, and the treatment of different groups within the criminal justice system, it is important that they be included in the mainstream of disciplines. Such inclusion fosters understanding of the sources and consequences of crime and the criminal justice processing of suspects, defendants, and offenders, and contributes to the successful careers among underrepresented scholars..

The RDCJN goals are to continue to (1) advance the research and professional development of young scholars from underrepresented groups for carrying out innovative research, and thereby foster democratic inclusion in academe; and (2) undertake additional collaborative projects that provide a more complete understanding of the interrelationships among race/ethnicity, crime, and criminal justice. These goals are interrelated. Improving understanding of crime and justice requires bringing the unique perspectives and methods of underrepresented groups to bear by democratizing academe. The annual RDCJN workshops integrate the SRI faculty into a national network of scholars, while also: facilitating progress in exploring a national research agenda on the study of race/ethnicity, crime and justice; yielding volumes of studies (6 so far) that enhance understanding of this topic and bring the work produced by underrepresented scholars into mainstream outlets; promoting the development of collaborative projects by participants; and enhancing the professional development of diverse young scholars who participate in the RDCJN, but not the SRI.


Award Details

Start Date: September 1, 2015
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End Date:August 31, 2018 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date:   $778,008.00