Seeking to increase research and public engagement on the subject of racial inequality, the University is launching the new Center for the Study of Race and Democracy (CSRD) with a two-day conference Feb. 8-9.
The Center, a joint venture between the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and the College of Liberal Arts, will be led by Peniel Joseph, who holds a joint professorship in both schools. Describing it as a hub for research, history, and policy, he sees the mission of CSRD as covering a wide range of issues related to race in policy and society.
“[The Center covers] everything from voting rights to issues of racial and economic inequality, but also social and political protests and the way in which those protests can affect policy and public understanding,” Joseph said.
LBJ School dean Angela Evans said she sees UT and the state at large as an ideal fit for the Center’s mission.
“Texas is a microcosm for what’s going on in the rest of the country in terms of socioeconomic conditions and socioeconomic challenges we’re facing,” Evans said.
CSRD’s inaugural conference, titled “Race, Democracy and Public Policy in America,” will consist of panels and keynotes on topics spanning over 60 years of racial politics, including the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and president Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society policies involving racial and social inequalities.
“We want stakeholders, who are activists, policy experts, journalists, students, just people [who are] a part of the community who are interested in these issues,” Joseph said. “I think that in 2016 these issues have really taken a national spotlight.”
Deanna Govea, journalism and Asian studies junior, said she sees intrigue in the event even though the topics are often perceived as contentious.
“For a lot of people, it’s kind of uncomfortable to talk about it, so to have a conference around it should be interesting,” Govea said.
Joseph said he believes the CSRD will kick-start further conversation and engagement.
“Over time, as more people know we exist, we’ll be able to bring a lot more people to the Center for really exciting conversations and dialogues, and public history and policy discussions about all these issues,” Joseph said.
Conference details are available at utexas.edu/lbj.