Supporting Underrepresented Scholars in their Academic Pursuits


The second objective of the Racial Democracy, Crime and Justice Network is to support the advancement of underrepresented scholars engaged in the academic study of crime and justice. This aim also relates to our interest in democratic inclusion. Research evidence and our experiences indicate that young scholars from underrepresented groups encounter dilemmas, challenges and barriers that complicate their promotion in the academy. The Network is comprised of many young scholars from underrepresented groups (e.g., scholars of color) who themselves may be engaged in research on race/ethnicity, crime and justice. Making available opportunities for publishing in or developing volumes is one way in which the RDCJN supports young scholars in their academic pursuits. Thus, many are authors (and/or editors) in the volumes of scholarship that we have produced.

To further assist young scholars in their academic advancement, since 2006, we have hosted an annual Crime and Justice Summer Research Institute (SRI). Two general assumptions underlie the SRI program structure: (1) researchers from all walks of life can make important contributions to scholarship on crime and justice, with the field suffering to the extent that the full range of perspectives is not integrated into the knowledge base; and (2) isolation from resources and opportunities is a serious hindrance to the success of young faculty from underrepresented groups, and thus, by reducing such isolation we will also enhance the likelihood of their success, and in turn, help diversify academe and enrich research and theories on crime and justice. To enhance the success and reduce the isolation of underrepresented scholars, during the Institute, Fellows: work on developing a research paper or proposal to bring it to submission readiness; participate in a series of professional development workshops that serve as a toolkit of information for managing the academic environment; build networks with one another and with senior scholars who serve as reviewers of papers/proposals or mentors facilitating individuals’ progress during the institute; present and gain feedback on the paper/proposal during the RDCJN workshop; and become integrated into the larger network of the RDCJN upon completion of the SRI.  During July 2016, the Network held its 11th Annual SRI at Rutgers University-Newark.  To date, 84 SRI faculty have “graduated” from the Institute, and 36 (43%) of these have gained tenure, with two members of the early cohorts having been promoted to full professors and are now heading up their academic units (departments/schools).  Each year several additional Fellows join the ranks of senior faculty through tenure and promotion, . Collectively SRI participants have published over 500 articles, chapters, and books since their association with the RDCJN, the majority (71%) of which are refereed journal articles.  Also to date, SRI Fellows have received 41 external grants from national or regional funding agencies.

Finally, because some young scholars participate in the RDCJN, but not the SRI, we provide collaboration breakouts and professional development seminars during the annual RDCJN Workshop. The collaboration breakouts provide opportunities for young scholars (from underrepresented and well-represented groups) to help plan, participate in, and take leadership roles in collaborative research and publishing activities. The professional development seminars cover a variety of topics (e.g., the tenure process, publishing journal articles, publishing books, balancing academic roles, etc.). These extra-SRI activities benefit all young scholars within the RDCJN. Notably, not counting SRI Fellows, 25 tenure-track faculty members began participating in the RDCJN as either pre-tenured faculty (N=15) or graduate students (N=10). Of the former group, 12 of the 15 are now tenured; the remaining 3 are doing well as junior faculty as are the 10 who joined the RDCJN as graduate students. Overall, the RDCJN is proud of its support of young scholars from underrepresented and well-represented groups. Beyond statistical indications of the Network’s success, please visit our Testimonials’ pages for how young scholars themselves describe the benefits of the RDCJN.