Welcome to the University of Denver’s Interdisciplinary Research Incubator for the Study of Inequality (IRISE). As an institute situated in the Office of the Senior Associate Provost of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence, IRISE is the intellectual home for faculty and students to engage in the development of cutting edge interdisciplinary research on issues of inequality, social justice, and inclusivity. The penultimate outcome in this regard is to advance Inclusive Excellence, diversity, and equity at DU, as well furthering DU’s public good mission by extending and connecting this work across campus to locally diverse communities in a comprehensive and meaningful way.
Entering our 3rd year, this initiative has been highly successful in linking together faculty and students across departments and disciplines while strengthening the ability of DU researchers to engage effectively and meaningfully in issues of equity and inequality in Denver and beyond.
The 2014-2015 academic year was telling in this regard. After a successful national search, three IRISE Post-Doctoral Fellows joined us on campus and made an immediate impact. The IRISE postdoctoral fellowship has provided unprecedented opportunities to connect faculty and students across departments and disciplines in order to identify and mentor postdoctoral fellows who train and research using large dataset methodology and advanced longitudinal data analysis, qualitative data analysis, fully-equipped Geographical Information Systems, robust local archival collections, and having access to local and state governments as well as community organizations.
The fellows have spent the majority of time engaged in independent research and scholarship under the guidance of an interdisciplinary team of departmental faculty members while also being active in the DU community of scholars and engaged in research and teaching relating to the study of inequality locally and nationally. The scope of their work as well as its impact can be seen in the powerful presentations that the Fellows gave at University’s Annual Diversity Summit.
In addition to the Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program, the Pioneer Pathway Program (P3) was moved under the IRISE portfolio in the summer of 2014. Accordingly, the P3 program was refocused around the specific goal of nurturing the strengths of academically successful incoming students from historically underrepresented communities and prepare them to pursue additional academic degrees, such as a Masters or Doctorate. The program supports IRISE’s mission to develop students who are underrepresented in various fields where an advanced degree is required as a condition of employment. In connection to DU’s commitment to Inclusive Excellence and Diversity, P3 is aimed to provide students with impactful research opportunities, social and cultural support, meaningful mentorship, and personal growth.
Finally, as part of a working group to examine the feasibility of creating a cultural or race and ethnic studies curriculum at DU, IRISE collaborated with various campus units to sponsor a lecture a Critical Cultural Studies lecture series. The lectures were designed to provoke conversation at DU about the importance of disciplines like Queer and GLBT Studies, Disability Studies, Race and Ethnic Studies, and other programs that interrogate questions of power and privilege. The primary goal was to consider how and in what ways such programs can be built at DU. The campus lectures included the following:
Dr. Daryl Maeda, Chair of the Ethnic Studies Department, University of Colorado Boulder, “Martial Movements: Bruce Lee, the Transpacific, and Critical Area Studies”
- Co-sponsored by the ACLU, Black Law Student’s Association, and the Sturm College of Law’s Office of the Associate Dean of Institutional Diversity and Inclusiveness
Dr. Amy Villarejo, Chair and Professor of the Department of Performing and Media at Cornell University, "Talking Heads: Queer Television of the 1980s"
- Co-sponsored by the Department of Media, Film, and Journalism Studies
Dr. Eduardo Bonilla Silva, Chair of the Department of Sociology, Duke University, “Now You See It, Now You Don't! Racism in Post-Racial Times”
- Co-sponsored by the Center for Multicultural Excellence
Over 250 faculty, students, administrators and community partners from across campus were attended and participated in these various lectures.
The above represents only a fraction of the activities supported by IRISE. Not surprisingly, there has been tremendous energy and excitement surrounding IRISE’s various activities for the 2014-2015 Academic Year. Perhaps nothing captures this critical energy more than our new logo designed by IRISE Faculty Advisory Board Member Rafael Fajardo. Please notice how and in what ways the tensions between equality and inequality are visually represented in this dynamic and hard-hitting creative work.
IRISE is designed to be long-lasting and built upon faculty-faculty, faculty-post-doc, faculty-student and DU-community relationships that will grow and strengthen over time. We thus look forward to having IRISE work with you to incubate, connect, build, and grow DU’s reputation as a center of cutting-edge interdisciplinary research on issues of inequality, social justice, and inclusivity.
Tom I. Romero, II J.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Provost of Inclusive Excellence Research and Curricular Initiatives
Associate Professor of Law and Affiliated Faculty Member, Department of History