Kingfisher fellows discuss year of research at virtual symposium
The Creighton University Kingfisher Institute’s inaugural group of research fellows recently concluded an eventful year spent researching race.
The Research & Scholarship Fellows Symposium, held via Zoom on Sept. 22, included the 10 members of the 2019-2020 cohort of research fellows, as well as members of the program’s 2020-2021 cohort. Attendees discussed the inaugural cohort’s research, all of which explored the theme of “Race, Violence and Reconciliation in America.”
The research projects spanned disciplines from across the University, including theology, medicine, education, journalism, philosophy, community affairs and more.
“I just want to say, thank you for participating in this experiment. It was an experiment. It is an experiment, an ongoing one, in thinking about how we do research and scholarship at Creighton,” said Tracy Leavelle, PhD, director of the Kingfisher Institute. “I was deeply impressed by the amount of work, and the level of work … and I was impressed by your perseverance through the uncertainties of the spring and summer.”
The 2019-2020 fellows and their projects were:
- Pierce Greenberg, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Cultural and Social Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences: “The Racial Landscape of Evictions in Omaha: Mapping Barriers to Housing Inequality.”
- Julia Fleming, PhD, professor in the Department of Theology: “References to Lynching in the Woodstock Letters.”
- Timothy Dickel, EdD, professor emeritus in the Department of Education: “Race, Violence and Reconciliation in America: School Suspensions and Expulsions.”
- Jacob Rump, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy: “The Meaning of Embodied Racist Habits from Description to Transformation.”
- Pooja Varman, third-year student in the School of Medicine: “This is the Work: A Model of Embodied Knowledge, Communal Learning and Abolitionist Practice in Medical Education.”
- Errik Ejike, MPH, CPHHE supervisor in the Health Sciences Multicultural and Community Affairs Office: “Lyrics, Life & Lessons: Heard from the Ghetto to the Cul-de-Sac: The Use of Hip Hop Music to Address Violence and Discrimination in America’s Urban Neighborhoods.”
- Erika Dakin Kirby, PhD, professor in the Department of Communication Studies: “Researching the Path to Racial Justice and Reconciliation in African American Omaha.”
- Palma Joy Strand, JD, professor in the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program in the Graduate School: “Initiating Design of a Truth and Reconciliation Process in the United States to Address Race, Racism and Racial Violence.”
- Mary Lee Brock, MEd, assistant professor in the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program, and Carol Zuegner, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science, Design & Journalism: “Solutions Journalism and Conflict Engagement: A New Approach to Focus Community Action on Race and Justice.”
- Jacob Idra, undergraduate in the Heider College of Business; Samuel Lado Jr., undergraduate in the College of Arts and Sciences; Lucy Hancock, coordinator in the Global Engagement Office: “The Struggle: Here|There|Then|Now.”
At the symposium, the fellows discussed the challenges of continuing their research projects through the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the social unrest occurring in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
Third-year medical student Pooja Varman, who studied how to incorporate student-initiated justice education into medical school curricula, said the fellowship program helped her recognize that her research work in the areas of social and racial justice had as much academic significance as her medical studies.
“A lot of the racial justice work that I’ve done has been an extracurricular activity. I never saw it as an intellectual, academic activity in and of itself,” Varman said. “I realized, while I was doing this project, that this dichotomy doesn’t need to exist. And there is inherent value and intellectual value in a lot of this racial justice work.”
Last year’s cohort heard from several members of the latest group of Kingfisher fellows, who briefly discussed their own research goals. The fellows also discussed how the interdisciplinary nature of the program helped them to make new connections and round out their research with feedback and input from scholars outside of their areas of expertise.
“I think there was real opportunity – and also responsibility — in presenting my work to people not in my discipline,” said Jacob Rump, a faculty member in the Department of Philosophy. “Having to present what I do in a way that I can’t get caught up in lingo that’s not known to specialists who already know the terms involved is, I think, super helpful to me and probably to others too.”