Racial issues have recently been at the core of unrest and violence across the country. In order to move beyond the traditional black-white racial paradigm and to look at race and ethnic relations through a diverse lens, the University of North Florida has launched the Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations.
Under the direction of renowned race expert Dr. JeffriAnne Wilder, a UNF associate professor of sociology, the Institute—one of only two centers on race in the State University System and the only one that prioritizes research—was created as an interdisciplinary research institute on the study of racial inequality that is centered on the local and Southeast region, but equally attentive to the broader impact in our national and international communities.
“As a community and as a nation, it’s crucial that we recognize the intersectional nature of race and ethnicity, said Wilder. “We need to explore key issues of race, racism and racial inequality with an equally attentive focus on the social identities of gender, class, color and sexuality.”
Grounded within the core principles of research, education and public scholarship, this endeavor aims to foster critical and creative thinking, conduct and facilitate academic research as well as promote and support public scholarship on issues surrounding race, racism and racial inequality.
Some of the Institute’s key goals include expanding the community of scholars conducting research on race and ethnicity as well as creating an academic space and intellectual environment that is interdisciplinary and collaborative in nature, so a diverse group of campus faculty and students can examine issues of race and ethnicity.
Other goals include offering training and professional development opportunities for UNF faculty in addition to scholars outside the University. This race and ethnic relations effort also hopes to provide research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students that build upon the UNF mission of transformational and experiential learning experiences.
Using the newly formed Institute as a mouthpiece, Wilder is counting on the college-age demographic to take the lessons learned during community conversations and put action to words. “UNF is a very inclusive and diverse community, but students want to ask these questions in a broader forum,” she said. “That’s why the Institute will play such a positive role for the University community.”
In addition to teaching, Wilder writes, researches and lectures on the contemporary experiences of black Americans and other racial/ethnic groups. She recently authored her first book, “Color Stories,” which offers an in-depth sociological exploration of present-day colorism in the lives of black women and investigates the lived experiences of a phenomenon that continues to affect women of African descent.
Wilder, who was recently named as one of Jacksonville’s Top 30 Women of Influence, is active on campus and in the Jacksonville community, serving as the immediate past chair of the UNF Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, the University’s leadership council addressing issues of diversity and inequality, and as a board member of the OneJax Institute at UNF. Additionally, she has served on the UNF Women’s Advisory Board and was the adviser to the UNF undergraduate chapter of the NAACP and the W.E.B. DuBois Honor Society.
For more information about the Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations as well as upcoming Institute events and lectures, visit http://www.unf.edu/aa/srer/.
UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.