In the wake of this spring’s racial unrest, UC Santa Barbara’s Graduate Division is taking action to support students who demonstrate a commitment to social justice through its new Racial Justice Fellowship Program.

This initiative will provide recipients — UCSB graduate students nominated by their respective departments — with a five-year package of full funding in addition to an $8,000 summer stipend for three of those years. Four fellowships will be offered each winter, and students from all departments are eligible. 

“The Racial Justice Fellowship Program is desperately needed and right on time,” said Walter Boggan, graduate division director of admissions, outreach, and diversity initiatives, in a press release. “This most important action by the UC Santa Barbara Graduate Division and deans from across all disciplines highlights their support and a true commitment to our future Black, Indigenous, and graduate students of color.” 

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A collaborative venture, the Racial Justice Fellowship Program is supported by the Graduate Division as well as deans of the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management; the College of Engineering; the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts; the Division of Social Sciences; the Division of Mathematical, Life, and Physical Science; and the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education.

“The fellowship is intended for any students whose research, teaching, or mentoring focuses on racial justice,” said interim graduate dean Leila Rupp. “Students whose disciplines are not directly connected to historical or contemporary experiences or representations of racism or mobilizations on behalf of racial justice are eligible if they have utilized research in the interests of marginalized communities or worked on campus or beyond in the interests of racial justice.”

Countless UCSB graduate students are already making meaningful contributions in the field of racial justice — some provide mentorship for underrepresented high school students, while others are active in organizations that work to dismantle systemic racism. 

“Students in a variety of disciplines are engaged in research that explores the historical roots or contemporary experiences of racism; the educational, environmental, health, or economic disparities impacting Black, Indigenous, and communities of color; cultural, social, and political anti-racist resistance; and other ways in which systemic racism and responses to it have shaped and continue to shape human societies,” Rupp said.

The fellowship program is an affirmation of UCSB’s commitment to addressing social needs and issues through teaching and research. 

“It is important to us to acknowledge, as a campus, the importance of fostering a more inclusive university community committed to racial justice,” Rupp continued, “by bringing together all of the units — from the sciences, humanities and fine arts, and social sciences to engineering, education, and environmental management — UC Santa Barbara presents a united front in support of research, teaching, and mentoring around racial justice.”

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