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UNITE Research Showcase Highlights Racial Equity

photo of researchers at a panel dis assign
UK College of Education scholar Dr. Shemeka Thorpe, third from left.

University of Kentucky College of Education faculty took part in the UNited In True racial Equity (UNITE) Research Priority Area’s inaugural research showcase today.

The event centered on elevating and promoting the importance of racial equity research at UK, across the Commonwealth, and beyond.

Throughout the showcase, researchers featured their racial equity work during breakout sessions designed to illustrate the relevance and impact of their ongoing scholarship.

Highlights include:

College of Education assistant professor Thais Council, Ph.D., presented “Community Work is Soul Work: Navigating Community-Engaged Participatory Research through a Social Justice Lens.” It highlighted community-engaged participatory research as a humanistic, collaborative, rigorous research approach to promote social and reparatory justice for equity in historically disenfranchised, long dispossessed communities.

Council will host a workshop in the College of Education’s Professional Learning Series taking place in June. In the workshop “Literacy and Justice for All,” literacy is defined to highlight the

brilliance and resilience of Black communities. Participants will examine the groundings of Black education and the ways in which Black intellectualism permeates Black literacy practices in and out of school. This interactive workshop is designed to engage participants in a series of discussions, gallery walks, and community-building activities while also offering turnkey strategies to promote equity and justice in and out of school. Participants will leave energized with a fresh perspective on disrupting anti-Blackness with equitable and just practices. Participants who complete this workshop will earn a “Literacy & Justice for All” digital badge to add to their CV or resume.

Thais Council Ph.D. standing at front of room behind a podium giving a presentation
Thais Council, Ph.D., an assistant professor of literacy education in the UK College of Education Department of Curriculum and Instruction

College of Education Lymon T. Johnson Postdoctoral Research Fellow Shemeka Thorpe, Ph.D., presented “Exploring Patient-Provider Communication Among Black Women Experiencing Sexual Pain.” The work explained the patient-provider communication process and the pathway to treatment among premenopausal Black women in the southern U.S. through qualitative analysis and a conceptual framework of patient-provider communication about sexual pain.

College of Education assistant professor Zitsi Mirakhur, Ph.D., presented “Building Evidence to Advance Meaningful Integration in New York City.” It provided an overview of the conditions that prompted Community School District (CSD) 15 to implement its particular desegregation and

integration plan, assess the extent of desegregation and integration in district middle schools, and outline key supports and barriers to this process.

College of Education professor Danelle Stevens-Watkins, Ph.D., has led the UNITE research priority area since its inception in August 2020 as part of her role as the associate vice president for research for diversity and inclusion. UNITE is a $10 million investment over five years focused on growing racial equity research at UK and the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and students at UK.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It’s all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $501 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.