The UC Office of the President recently bestowed a $1.73 million grant upon UCSB to launch and house a new racial studies program, starting July 1. Named the UC Center for New Racial Studies (UCCNRS), the multi-campus research effort will be based at UCSB’s Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research facility.

According to literature from the UCCNRS, its goal is to encourage interdisciplinary and collaborative work on social and racial justice. Topics include California’s changing demographics, education, criminal justice, and budget crises, because they have racial components to them, said program director and UCSB Professor of Sociology Howard Winant. In the interests of academic diversity, a wide spectrum of scholars will participate in this research, from the social sciences, humanities, area studies, public policy, and law departments.

The program has guaranteed funding for five years, and each year will have a specific theme. For example, the 2010-2011 theme is “The Nation and Its Peoples: Citizens, Denizens, Migrants,” particularly pertinent today because it will focus on immigration, identity, and citizenship. Grant money to the tune of $150,000 has been awarded to UC faculty members and graduate students to carry out this research in the coming year. Other themes for subsequent years include “Race Neutrality and Race Consciousness,” “The Racial State,” “Race, Gender, and Class Intersectionality,” and “Global Raciality: Empire, Post-Coloniality, and Identity.”

Winant said the interest in race is due in large part to President Obama’s presidency, which has transformed the 21st century.

Although the program is designed for networking among UC scholars, it will also make connections with other academic and non-academic institutions in order to establish a dialogue about racial concerns.


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