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CJR Works to Improve Research Training and Communities

CJR Works to Improve Research Training and Communities

The prospect of transforming from a college student or everyday worker into a full-fledged criminal justice researcher can seem impossible, especially if you come from an underrepresented community.

In fact, there is strong evidence that academia is in dire need of diversification in researchers, especially in the study of crime and justice. A recent study conducted by the Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University found that 68 percent of colleges and universities have one or no Black full-time, tenured/tenure-track faculty members in their department.

The team at CJR is committed to more than producing quality research and innovative solutions. Our researcher development program is a pipeline for students and faculty interested in using data for advocacy and for serving as the next generation of diverse university-level faculty interested in the study of crime and justice. The data is clear that there is a lack of diversity in the study of crime and justice but also among the academic faculty ranks.

“Thanks to our funders for believing in our plan to expand our training outside Texas Southern University, we were able to reach students and faculty from across the country. All of whom shared a common interest in equity-based research but also in diversifying higher education” noted, Howard Henderson, PhD - Director of the Center for Justice Research  Thanks to the generous support of the National Hockey League, the workshop was free of charge. The workshop is only one project CJR is engaged with the NHL in order to support “a procedurally just criminal justice system.” Beyond giving interested people a path to becoming a university professor , the NHL is working with CJR to sharpen the NHL’s anti-racism profile through strategic engagements. While the plan is still being finalized, CJR is encouraging NHL clubs to address problems in their local communities, such as illiteracy, homelessness and hunger.

The Researcher Development Workshop Series provided students and those interested in criminal justice reform an introduction into research methods and approaches. 

“This program was designed to address the lack of available cost-effective training and resources focused on culturally-sensitive research,” said Dr. Jasmine Drake.

“The CJR-RDTI program is novel in that it addresses the lack of resources at Universities and aims to support students and faculty interested in culturally-relevant research portfolios Although the topics covered in the pilot CJR-RDTI Workshop series represented fundamental areas in criminal justice research, many of the workshops could be expanded to create opportunities for advanced-level learning in all of the key areas of research methods and design, statistical methods  and scholarly writing,” said Dr. Thomas Kandace, CJR Research Fellow. “ Although the program was provided using a virtual platform, the instructor-led tutorials and project-based learning activities were effective in maintaining participant engagement. Based on participant feedback, they are interested in additional learning opportunities from the CJR-RDTI, and they would like to participate in future workshops covering advanced research topics.” 

The CJR-RDTI Workshop series was well received by participants, who had the following to say about the program:

  • “I was empowered by the group of professional researchers of color in this space.” - Doctoral student 
  • “A rare opportunity not just to study/review statistical techniques, but also to have REAL-WORLD input on how to put it into practice. Regular classwork learning does not always provide that.” Doctoral student
  • I benefited from the best practices the instructor shared about moving from writing to publication and the insights he shared about his scholar/activist identity as a qualitative researcher in a tenure track position.” Post-doctoral student
  • It provided a thorough review and insight on how to move to the next level in research.” Tenure-tracked professor. 

Given the overwhelming positive response to the research. Another project between the NHL and CJR includes efforts to improve diversity, equity and inclusion through actions like raising the profile of BIPOC NHL players. Other aspects of the project include enhancing professional networks among players and alumni, and promoting that hockey is for everyone, regardless of gender or background. 

Other endeavors between CJR and the NHL include raising the profile of BIPOC NHL players while promoting diversity, equity and inclusion; enhance professional network among players and alumni; and to promote the idea that hockey is for everyone.  

Like many other organizations, the NHL is looking to create substantial change and educate its members on anti-racism initiatives. As Don Fehr, the executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association, told CJR in a press release, “Everyone should be able to live and work in an environment that is inclusive, and one that is free from racism and discrimination in any form.” 

Given the success already achieved in the partnership between the NHL and CJR, this collaboration will no doubt continue to produce fruitful projects and results. 

About the Author

Center for Justice Research

Center for Justice Research