Disciplining Diversity: A Call for a Residential Research Group

This call is for participation in the Fall 2020 Residential Research Group, “Disciplining Diversity,” which invites research projects that probe how “diversity” — as instruction, policy, work, imperative, and investment — functions (or doesn’t) within higher education. Please see the research agenda below for more information.

Residential research groups (RRGs) are in essence teams of researchers, often unknown to each other before residency, and assembled to work on a commonly-defined research agenda. They are composed of a range of UC faculty, visiting scholars (including UC postdoctoral scholars), UC doctoral students, and non-UC faculty as resources allow. The organizing premise of the residential research program is that when the challenges of communicating across disciplines are surmounted, breakthroughs in knowledge are possible.

Applications must be submitted online via Submittable by 11:59 PM (Pacific time) on the deadline date.


Research Agenda

It is no exaggeration to suggest that today “diversity” has become imperative. As instruction, obligation, and imperative, the administration of diversity in universities proceeds apparently immune to academic critique and skeptical criticism in the media. Scholars have done exceptional work in pointing to the diverse strategies by which universities deploy novel policies to tame critical social movements, co-opt dissenting points of view, and institutionalize under-resourced academic departments and units, giving campuses a veneer of heterogeneity. Even as students, staff, and faculty of color in universities raise crucial questions about the procedural institutionalization of diversity in spaces that on other counts remain blissfully oblivious to their implication in racial logics, diversity—as instruction, obligation, imperative—is advertised for how it can help universities grow and flourish in times of challenge and crisis. 

This Residential Research Group (RRG) is intended as a collaborative counter-imperative. It grows out of UCHRI’s ongoing Mellon-funded Horizons of the Humanities initiative on social heterogeneity and the future of the university, including our Winter 2019 Diversity as Discipline workshop. Faculty, graduate student, staff, and administrator Fellows will be brought into sustained dialogue, debate, and critical reflection on how best to address and assess diversity in higher education. As imperative, diversity is a gateway to other issues rife with urgency in American cultural and political life: identity politics, political economy, and the challenges of institutionalizing redress mechanisms for systems built on historical injustice (from affirmative action, target of opportunity, and diversity policies to Title IX). 

The RRG will address the investments—financial, institutional, psychic—that frame diversity as a panacea against exclusion while, at the same time, forcing diversity-work onto the backs of those recognized as diverse. What meanings accrue to a term like “diversity” at a moment when the United States is poised to become a nonwhite majority nation by 2050? How has diversity policy supplanted other (and in some accounts, more political) technologies of intervening in social space such as affirmative action? Who are recruited as the faces of institutional diversity and what alibis do such recruitments offer those who can simply shrug off their responsibility because, in theory, the university is doing its job? 

In addition to such critical questions, this RRG will also inquire into the mechanics by which universities can effectively accommodate heterogeneity not as a talking point but as a part of the fabric of institutional life. An effort of this order necessitates peeling back the layers of ideological work diversity policies do. It implies also a simultaneous need to conceptualize other forms of access, habitation, and existence capable of offering engaging platforms to support the transformative work required to develop and sustain intellectually, demographically, and culturally heterogeneous institutions.

To participate in and contribute to a UCHRI Residential Research Group we invite a range of applications, from faculty, graduate students, and administrative staff across the UC system, on topics including, but not limited to:

  • Critical lineages of diversity policy, from affirmative action, to multiculturalism, and now to inclusive excellence
  • Diversity (as) work
  • The politics of institutionalization
  • Racial capitalism and the future of the university
  • Inclusion and other modes of being-with
  • Diversity Pipelines and student representation
  • What comes after the canon?
  • Heterogenizing the curriculum

Application Details

The RRG is open to scholars across the UC system, and a limited number of non-UC scholars (as resources allow), interested in participating in the research agenda with their own unique projects. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact their respective campus representative on the UCHRI Advisory Committee well in advance of the application deadline for guidance in the application process.
 
Applicants must apply online via Submittable. Required documents include:
 
  • Short Biography (200 words max)
  • Project Title and Abstract (200 words max)
  • Project Description (2,000 words max. Please explain your personal research aims for the residence and explain how they relate to the collective research agenda)
  • Curriculum Vitae (2 pages max)
Individual applicants are selected based on their ability to contribute to the research agenda of the group.
For program related questions, please contact Shana Melnysyn, research grants manager, at smelnysyn@hri.uci.edu. Please include the name of the program for which you need assistance.
For technical assistance contact Submittable at support@submittable.com or (855) 467-8264, ext. 2