In our first post of 2023, Dr. Katherine McKittrick and Dr. Betsy Donald reflect on the Scarborough Charter, research and activism.

Scarborough Charter Research Working Group

The Research Working Group for the Scarborough Charter has organized our thinking for the Scarborough Charter (SC) around six nodes: interdisciplinarity; livability; mentorship; funding; recognizing staff as co-researchers and collaborators; the university as porous.

Our conversations have attended to the connections between research (our anchor point) and teaching, community activism, and fostering the well-being of black and other communities on the margins. Our thinking has shied away from research as a bounded and discreet practice that is disconnected from other aspects of community and university life, and toward the recognition that excellence in research is activated through the concrete places where black scholars, activists, staff can be and are in conversation. This includes where the black community lands and where they live and presses us to notice that sharing and navigating both the institution and racism happens in varying ways and across multiple sites.

Working with some of the central tenets of black studies and anti-racist work, wherein the university is both imagined and lived as a site of public engagement and scholar-activism, we identified a dynamism between research, community work, and teaching—these are not discreet categories, but instead inform how black scholarly inquiry is necessarily entangled with activities that move through, across, and outside the institution. Put simply, excellent research requires safe and livable spaces inside and outside the university.

Our conversations have therefore underscored that a commitment to supporting research by and for black scholars—that is, combatting anti-black racism as identified in the Scarborough Charter—should be paired with funding and supports such as, but not limited to the following points:

  • landing and living in Kingston: housing for faculty, staff, students, fellows, families
  • mentoring and co-mentoring in multiple areas (not just research)
  • supporting and retaining black faculty at all ranks supporting and retaining black administrative staff
  • funding for graduate students, undergraduate students, predoctoral fellows and postdoctoral fellows
  • funding for community events that feed into research projects
  • one or more black studies librarians/archivists
  • additional faculty and administrative staff hires
  • a community library and social space on campus that is committed to student well-being, book drives for prisons, and other activist work

Which we envision as interconnected, something like this:

Graphical representation of interconnected supports.
Download a larger version of this image.

Provision of these supports should be accompanied by two crucial processes: First, serious consideration of how workload shapes research for black and other scholars on the margins (and therefore a more explicit commitment to integrating anti-racism into workload documents, in both the QUFA and PSAC bargaining units); and second, a review and implementation of research support in the areas of black studies, anti-colonial studies, and interdisciplinarity.

Learn more about the Scarborough Charter and Working Groups at Queen's University.  

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