HBCU/MSI Research Summit Fosters Research, Recruitment Collaboration

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Stepheria Hodge Nicholson, a health care lecturer at the historically Black Fayetteville State University’s College of Business and Economics, was one of 25 visiting faculty and staff invited to the summit. (Photos by A’me Dalton, courtesy of the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business.)

Recognizing the important role of cross-institutional partnerships in advancing DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) goals, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) hosts an annual summit that brings together scholars from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) to explore potential collaborations and work to address racial inequities in academia. Through the November 2023 HBCU/MSI Research Summit — a joint effort between Virginia Tech’s Graduate School and the Pamplin College of Business — the university welcomed 25 visiting faculty and staff from participating institutions.

Presenting at the HBCU/MSI Research Summit, Broderick Turner discussed how the Technology, Race, and Prejudice Lab is
addressing racism in marketing research. (Photos by A’me
Dalton, courtesy of the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business.)

A central focus of the summit was to cultivate collaborative research between HBCUs, MSIs, and Virginia Tech. Participating faculty members had the opportunity to engage in research discussions like those led by Lara Khansa, PhD, Pamplin’s associate dean of research and faculty affairs, and Broderick Turner, PhD, co-founder of the Technology, Race, and Prejudice (T.R.A.P.) Lab and an assistant professor of marketing at Pamplin. These discussions showcased both ongoing research endeavors and facilitated the exploration of potential joint ventures.

The T.R.A.P Lab, a group composed of interdisciplinary research faculty and graduate students throughout the U.S., is dedicated to examining the pervasive influence of race and racism in marketing, consumer technology, and market research. Through weekly online global meetings, the lab aims to develop solutions that enhance economic, social, and environmental outcomes. Their work is grounded in understanding race as a social construct shaped by racism, with methodologies outlined for measuring and reporting race in research. By incorporating race into theoretical models — including datasets used for algorithm training — the lab seeks to advance understanding and address systemic inequities.

“The T.R.A.P. Lab’s goal is to ultimately bring more underrepresented minorities inside of the research kit as participants so that their views are expressed in the work, so their understandings and beliefs are in the work, so that we can make this research better and we can stop pretending that stuff done with only a very small portion of the world generalizes to everybody,” Turner said at the summit. “The only way to make things general to everyone is to bring in everyone. So, our goal is to make the tent bigger.”

In addition to the research discussion, the event provided a platform for recruitment, offering prospective students from HBCUs and MSIs a glimpse into the graduate programs available at Virginia Tech, along with various learning opportunities. This included a tour of campus facilities, career and professional development activities, an HBCU and MSI alumni panel, a GRE prep workshop, and a Juneteenth Scholars panel.

Over the course of the summit, there were occasions for faculty and students from participating institutions to network, exploring potential collaborative educational, career, and research development opportunities. Faculty members from Virginia Tech and partnering institutions engaged in dialogues exploring potential shared programs that would enhance academic offerings and accessibility for students across diverse backgrounds.