Contributing research to address some of the world’s great challenges—this is a central mission of the UMD’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Summer Research Initiative (SRI). The Bowie State University-University of Maryland Social Justice Alliance is very proud to share with you the research contributions of our first cohort of Social Justice Alliance (SJA) research interns who participated in the BSOS SRI this summer from June 5 through July 28.
Bowie State University rising senior and psychology major Chanel Hamilton, along with University of Maryland rising senior and sociology major Brooke Mengistu, partnered with BSU faculty member Dr. Ayanna Lynch and UMD faculty members Dr. Jeanette Snider and Dr. Rashawn Ray to form a research team that focused on social justice in the state of Maryland.
This social justice research team project was an extension of the overall BSU/UMD social justice alliance which already provides an annual symposium, community service, community outreach, and cross campus collaborations to strengthen the ties between BSU and UMD and strengthen our campuses and state’s commitment to social justice.
As part of the research internship, Mengistu and Hamilton were immersed in the SRI, an 8-week, intensive, residential research experience on the UMD campus. The students lived in housing with other SRI research interns conducting research in other areas like economics, psychology, geographical sciences, and more. They also participated in professional development workshops and as well as seminars designed to strengthen their drives to pursue graduate training in areas relevant to social justice.
Guided by Dr. Lynch, Dr. Snider, and Dr. Ray, their research projects explored the perceptions of police violence and policing in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
“Social justice is such a crucial element within research because it reinforces ethics while conducting research. While working as a SRI scholar under the SJA, I upheld this value within my research, but also encouraged others to do the same,” Hamilton said.
Mengistu said, “My experience in the SRI was incredible and a great privilege, especially to be a part of the inaugural SJA SRI fellowship. Hopefully it could set a precedent for social justice to be taken as a serious issue that can be explored with research to support activists efforts.”
At the end of the internship, the SJA scholars presented their research projects on the UMD campus. Hamilton presented her research titled, “But How Do You Really Feel?: An Analysis of Empathy Towards Black People in Social Justice Dialogues.” Brooke Mengistu presented her research titled, “Policing the Police: Community Members’ Perceptions of Police Interactions and Body-Worn Cameras.”
Together, their research examined how race, education and personal interactions with police influence the opinions of policing in Black communities. Dr. Kim Nickerson, SJA member and the director of the BSOS SRI commented, “The research produced by these students hit right at key human elements necessary to understand social justice. What’s in people’s hearts—how do you really feel’—and what’s in people’s minds—perceptions of police interactions’.”
Lynch commented, “The SJA SRI fellowship is another step towards advancing social justice advocacy and strengthening the alliance between BSU and UMD students and faculty. This collective modeled what is required to shift mindsets and expand the reach of social justice research and advocacy. People with perspectives informed by different generations, sociocultural identities and positionalities are needed to examine, expound upon and advance social justice work.”
Both institutions forward to having our second cohort of SJA fellows in the summer of 2024. Through this inter-institution collaboration, the legacy, light, and spirit of Lt. Richard Collins, III will forever embody the mission of social justice.
Students interested in participating in the social justice alliance research internship in the summer of 2024 should contact Ms. Brittney Robinson at brobins7 [at] umd.edu.
Co-authored: Brittney Robinson, Dr. Jeanette Snider, Dr. Kim Nickerson