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Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University.

In July 2020, CAMD announced a new grant program to support research on social justice and anti-racism. The award recipients, who were recently announced, are: Jay Cephas, Assistant Professor, Architecture; Derek Curry, Assistant Professor, Art + Design; Patricia Davis, Associate Professor, Communication Studies; Meg Heckman, Assistant Professor, Journalism; Francesca Inglese, Assistant Professor, Music; and Jonathan Kaufman, Professor and Chair, Journalism. Congratulations to the award recipients; learn more about each project below.

Jay Cephas, Assistant Professor, Architecture
The Black Architects Archive: A Collaborative and Community-Driven Platform for Spatial Analysis

This project surfaces the work of under-represented architects across history as a means to diversify the architectural canon while also serving as a public history resource that documents the impact of Black spatial practices on the American built environment. The project furthers the work towards equity in architectural education and in the profession by acknowledging and highlighting the role of Black architects in the making of the built environment. More than simply an encyclopedic digitization of practitioners, however, the Black Architects Archive offers tools for analyzing the history of the built environment while foregrounding a collaborative and community-driven public history practice that relies on crowd-sourced and community-based contributions to grow its repository of Black shapers of the built environment.

Derek Curry, Assistant Professor, Art + Design
Hand’s Up! (don’t shoot)

This project will be a prototype of an experimental first-person shooter (FPS) game where the players’ goal is to find alternatives to shooting other players and non-player characters. Using events in the news where law enforcement have used lethal force against unarmed civilians and non-violent protestors as a background narrative, the game will work as a pedagogical device that encourages players to find solutions that do not involve the use of lethal force while also working to depict people of color as valuable members of society. The development team includes Derek Curry (PI) who will work closely with game design students Rayshawn Hughes, James Andrews Jr., and Christopher Boyd. The team will use the “Values at Play heuristic” (Flanagan and Nissenbaum, 2014) that was developed specifically for the integration of human values into the design of video games. In early 2021, the team will deliver a playable prototype of the game that will also be submitted to independent game festivals and publishers.

Patricia Davis, Associate Professor, Communication Studies
Marginal Bodies: Women of Color, Representation, and the Struggle for Citizenship and Belonging, 1920-2020

This project will be a visual exhibit detailing the historical representation of African American women in popular culture during the last one hundred years. The exhibit, which will include a timeline with a combination of images and written historical context, will enable viewers to make the connection between popular representation and the broader societal inequities that define contemporary society. As images wield tremendous influence in shaping debates over public policies, they have traditionally been used to marginalize African Americans and other disenfranchised groups from common notions of citizenship and belonging, and have been mobilized in both the enactment of and resistance to structures of racial hierarchy. The exhibition will enable viewers to connect the symbolism embedded in images to the material realities of the depicted subjects, and will include a range of images that appeared in various media spheres, including film, television, theater, print advertising, newspapers, and magazines.

Meg Heckman, Assistant Professor, Journalism
Making journalism more inclusive one text message at a time: Engaging marginalized audiences via SMS

This project will pilot news delivery by SMS (text message) in Boston’s core neighborhoods with an eye toward better serving communities that are too often overlooked or marginalized by traditional news organizations. The SMS news service will be part of the Scope, the School of Journalism’s experimental digital magazine focused on themes of justice, hope and resilience in Boston. We hope to improve the relevance and cultural competency of the Scope’s content and create a roadmap for other local news organizations looking to better understand, empower and serve disenfranchised audiences. When we examine the various systems of oppression at work in our society, it’s clear that even the most well-intentioned news organizations are too often part of the problem. But they also have great potential to be part of the solution, and we believe our SMS pilot could meaningfully contribute to efforts to build a news ecosystem that’s representative of and accessible to all segments of society.

Francesca Inglese, Assistant Professor, Music
Decolonizing Music: Resources for Students and Faculty

Francesca Inglese

This project aims to shift music studies at Northeastern by providing the tools to center voices of BIPOC in our research and our classrooms, as well as materials to aid in the development of an anti-racist music pedagogy. Working alongside Francesca Inglese (Assistant Professor, Music Department), Debra Mandel (Music Library Specialist), and in consultation with the Committee for Social Justice and Anti-Racism in Music, and the Center for the Arts, two student researchers will create two subject guides over the span of the Fall semester 2020. The first will gather scholarship by BIPOC in our various music sub-disciplines and the second annotated list will gather material (readings as well as multimedia) that will aid music faculty in the creation of an anti-racist music pedagogy. Student researchers will also select one reading per week to be shared via the Music Department Newsletter and use a portion of the funds to support one or more speakers on the topic of anti-racism in music. The goal is to add to efforts to decolonize the field by investigating our practices of citation and centering the perspectives of scholars long marginalized within academia.

Jonathan Kaufman, Professor and Chair, Journalism
Fact-Checking Racism

Micro-aggressions involving race – from routine police harassment to discrimination at work or at stores or government and non-profit institutions – are often under-reported or dominated by a “He said/No, I didn’t” narrative. This project, developed by two Journalism graduate students – one African-American and one white – will explore ways in which people of color and concerned citizens can report and document these forms racism perpetuated by taxpayer employees and those in power using the discipline of journalistic fact finding, research and fairness. It will find ways to authenticate, investigate, and publish its findings in a publicly accessible archive and work with community activists to share and build upon it.