Building Community and Belonging

New proposal aims to research the importance of Black culture and history in creating supportive and nurturing communities.

“Black communities continue to be disproportionately affected by inequities in education and society. Supporting Black education must begin with a new world sense of community, humanity and relationship, grounded in culturally and historically responsive and relational understandings.”

This is the opening statement for a new research grant proposal, “Necessary Black Culture and History for Creating Beloved Community in Diverse Educational Contexts: A Qualitative Study from Africa to America, “ in development for submission to the Spencer Foundation’s Large Research Grants on Education Program.

“Supporting Black education must begin with a new world sense of community, humanity and relationship, grounded in culturally and historically responsive and relational understandings,” says Dr. Cynthia B. Dillard, Dean of the College of Education and the primary investigator for the project. “This qualitative study embraces Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for solidarity of and for Black people by engaging and examining sites where Black cultural knowledge and history have framed and created beloved community.”

Joining Dr. Dillard are co-primary investigators Dr. Charisse Cowan Pitre, associate dean for Faculty Development and Justice Initiatives; Dr. Carol Adams, program director and senior instructor, Teacher Education; Dr. Paige Gardner, incoming program co-director and assistant professor, Student Development Administration; and Dr. David Fainstein, assistant professor, School Psychology. The team will also include at least one College of Education graduate student.

The research study will explore how these values of community are represented, exchanged, learned and lived in predominantly Black educational sites in the western U.S. and in Ghana, West Africa. Diverse participants will be engaged and mentored into relationship across multiple sites including an Afrocentric school, an ethnically diverse Catholic school, an informal education setting and a public high school in the greater Seattle area, as well as similar educational sites throughout Ghana.

“Our goal is to both study and enact a beloved community framework in these diverse and global Black settings, enabling examination of how education is always local and global, cultural and historical,” says Dr. Dillard. “Thus, we seek to know how educational professionals can create and engage in beloved community that is culturally, historically and socially responsive for Black students and communities.”

The Spencer Foundation has been a leading funder of education research since 1971. The Large Research Grants on Education Program supports rigorous, intellectually ambitious and technically sound research that is relevant to the most pressing questions and compelling opportunities in education. It is “field-initiated” in that proposal submissions are not in response to a specific request for a particular research topic, discipline, design, method or location.

Written by Karen Bystrom

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Paige Gardner

Interim Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Success and Development
Co-Program Director for Curriculum and Instruction Design
and Student Development Administration (SDA)
Assistant Professor, Student Development Administration (SDA)

Paige Gardner, PhD