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Eleven Faculty Development Projects Aim to Strengthen Networks and Build Inclusive Communities

Faculty Advancement Seed Grants provide financial head start for initiatives to foster a thriving climate for professors at Duke

The Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement has awarded seed grants to 11 faculty-led projects that pilot new ideas or expand initiatives to build an engaged and inclusive campus where all can grow and thrive.

A key goal of the Together Duke academic strategic plan is to create a supportive environment for research, learning, and academic community. Faculty Advancement Seed Grants give a boost to faculty members’ own ideas for advancing this goal.

2020-21 Faculty Advancement Seed Grants

Building Connections Between Duke International Development Faculty

Lead: Cory Krupp, Professor of the Practice of Public Policy, Sanford School of Public Policy

The Duke Center for International Development (DCID) will host a half-day gathering for faculty across the university who work on international development research and projects. Aims are to share best practices, find opportunities for collaborative work, discuss challenges, and formulate strategies for mitigating them. To move the work of this gathering forward, DCID will host a monthly breakfast or lunch series in 2020-21. The project’s goals are to build a strong network of development scholars, sustain ongoing opportunities for collaboration, establish a regular meeting series, and develop best practices to be disseminated through a workshop or other product to share with the community.  

Community-Engaged Mentored Research

Lead: Amy Anderson, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Education, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Kathy Sikes, Senior Fellow, Duke Service-Learning, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

This project will bring together faculty who are mentoring undergraduates in community-based research. Faculty will engage with one another and with outside guests to share their experiences and identify quality dimensions of practice in their work. The group will create a publication and web presence through Duke Service-Learning highlighting examples of quality practices and providing a self-assessment tool for interested faculty to use. Members will document collective challenges, identify resources, and determine additional topics of interest such as ethics of engagement, participatory scholarship, and collaborative grant writing.

Exploring Racial Equity in the Context of Research Libraries

Lead: Kimberly Burhop-Service, Director of Library Human Resources, Duke University Libraries

Duke Libraries’ staff are dedicated to collaborating with users to achieve their learning objectives and research goals. Therefore, this project will send 20 library staff members to attend the Racial Equity Institute’s Phase 1 training. This will be the first part of an initiative to explore the role of a research library in building communities, promoting understanding, and maintaining dialogue on issues of equity. The two-day training is designed to help participants understand racism in its institutional and structural forms. After the training, each participant will complete an evaluation, make recommendations, and propose next steps.

Faculty Working Group on Reckoning

Lead: Don Taylor, Professor of Public Policy, Sanford School of Public Policy; Director, Social Science Research Institute

Anne Whisnant, Director of Graduate Liberal Studies, The Graduate School

Jay Pearson, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Sanford School of Public Policy

Wesley Hogan, Research Professor, John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute; Director, Center for Documentary Studies

Val Gillispie, University Archivist, Duke University Libraries

This working group’s primary goal is to encourage faculty to talk together in ways that will stimulate research collaborations aimed at discovering Duke’s past, and to use this knowledge to improve their shared future. Faculty will discuss their ideas through a series of lunches and dinners; pursue archival research projects; develop seminar opportunities to share what they have learned with other faculty, students, and staff; and draft a curriculum for faculty climate improvement. Duke faculty are the primary focus, but the broader reckoning movement will include staff, students, alumni, and Durham residents.

Inclusion and Power Dynamics

Co-lead: Nicole Schramm-Sapyta, Associate Professor of the Practice, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Co-lead: Kathryn Dickerson, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine

Co-lead: Melissa Segal, Senior Business Manager, Neurobiology, School of Medicine

Co-lead: Shabnam Hakimi, Postdoctoral Scholar, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Colleen Bauer, Program Coordinator, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Katharine Neal, Director of Communications, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Dana Ripperton, Program Coordinator, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Over the past two years, the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences has hosted a workshop series on inclusion and power dynamics that has served more than 460 people across the university and health system. Faculty, staff, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows have engaged with topics related to the unique power dynamics of a research environment and the ways that members of our community are impacted by that power structure. For the coming year, this group will offer workshops and training in skills that promote inclusion; convene conversations with experts and leaders at Duke to share best practices; and create affinity groups to support each other and share resources for improving workplace culture.  Duke faculty are the primary focus, but the broader audiences may include staff, students, and postdoctoral fellows.

Racial Justice and Equity in Romance Studies

Lead: Saskia Ziolkowski, Assistant Professor of Romance Studies, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Many faculty in Romance Studies have participated in Duke’s year-long Teaching for Equity Fellowship program, and many work on racial justice in their research. Since the faculty are motivated to deepen their understanding of equity and racial justice on multiple fronts, they are coming together to discuss research, teaching, and campus culture and to learn from each other. This seed grant project will support two events. The first will provide a three-hour forum for members of the department to discuss equity in their teaching, department, and work. The second event, open to the public, will showcase the department’s work that is devoted to race and equity. Afterward, discussions will continue in faculty meetings and include a focus on how to move forward.

Reading Between the Lines Book Club

Co-lead: Alicia Bolden, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, School of Medicine

Co-lead: Lewis Hutchison, Jr., Assistant Dean, School of Law

This project will present an opportunity for faculty across campus to discuss and appreciate differing cultures and backgrounds, current events, and personal reflections through fictional and nonfictional narratives. The book club aims to encourage reading, discussion, and reflection on critical topics such as race, immigration, and gender identity, and to increase appreciation for different perspectives and interpretations. The initial books and their related discussion themes are Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran (immigration), Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (race and criminal justice reform), and This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Franke (gender identity). Co-funded by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in the School of Medicine


Lead: Nicole Elizabeth Barnes, Assistant Professor of History, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Nayoung Aimee Kwon, Associate Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Lillian Pierce, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Elizabeth Turner, Associate Professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, School of Medicine

Stammtisch is a German word that refers to the “regulars’ table,” or a recurring informal gathering. This project will create a community of 20 female-identified scholars across Duke who support one another to achieve excellence. To build community rooted in safety and belonging, the Stammtisch will take place once per week over three semesters. Lunchtime discussions will explore best practices for scholarship, teaching, and professional life. The core aim is to support the diversity of Duke faculty by empowering female-identified faculty to reach their fullest potential. After each meeting, project leaders will document key points from the discussion, and a running survey will be available to all members.

Strategic Community-Building: An Alternative to Discriminatory Practices across Disciplines

Lead: Edna Andrews, Professor of Linguistics, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Jan Riggsbee, Professor of the Practice, Education, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Beth Sullivan, Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, School of Medicine

This project will pursue a set of enrichment activities for faculty in Arts & Sciences, Medicine, and the Focus Program organized around Duke’s new Mellon Sawyer Seminar series. Bringing together 27 faculty fellows from Duke and four other Triangle universities, this series explores four themes: minorities, underrepresented communities and language-based discrimination; linguistic diversity in education; multilingualism, immigration and identities; and indigenous and endangered languages. The group will meet for dinner discussions after attending specific lectures. Each team meeting will include students as well as faculty.

Toolkit for Equity: Curricula and Climate in the Documentary Arts

Lead: Wesley Hogan, Research Professor, John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute; Director, Center for Documentary Studies

Since 2017, the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) has brought 11 young artists who identify as Black, indigenous, and/or people of color to Durham for fellowships of 10 to 18 months. Through this pilot, CDS leaders identified barriers to their ability to mentor these artists and created several interventions to address the problem. This seed grant project will engage Biwa | EmergentEquity to partner with CDS in examining organizational culture through the lens of racial equity and building capacity to engage in productive conflict, transparent communication, participatory decision-making, and equitable practice of policies and procedures.

Triangle Economists in Applied Microeconomics (TEAM) Working Group

Lead: Sarah Komisarow, Assistant Professor, Sanford School of Public Policy

Ines Black, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Fuqua School of Business

Matthew Johnson, Assistant Professor, Sanford School of Public Policy

Last year, this seed grant project created a working group for pre-tenure economists at Duke and other universities in the Triangle who are doing research broadly defined as applied microeconomics. TEAM seeks to provide a community in which members can thrive as young scholars. The two main activities—monthly seminar presentations and biannual writing retreats—provide opportunities peer feedback, a low-stakes environment, and dedicated writing time. This year, the group plans to build on its successful beginning by continuing its activities and expanding the community-building element. There will be a two-day off-campus writing retreat as well as a one-day on-campus retreat to allow more time for engaging in relaxed conversation, sharing goals, and other activities. There will also be a group dinner once each semester to provide more opportunity to build relationships with each other.