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Understanding Black student experiences with university histories of slavery

Understanding Black student experiences with university histories of slavery
Alumna builds on a study of students' views on higher education reparations

A new Large Education Research Grant from the Spencer Foundation will allow Warner School alumna Amalia Daché ‘14W (PhD), an associate professor of higher education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, to expand on a national study of how universities with historical ties to slavery impact higher education students today.
The new funding supports ongoing research conducted through Project SHARPE, also known as The Slavery Histories and Reparations in Postsecondary Education Project, which Daché co-leads with Juan Garibay, an associate professor at the University of Virginia School of Education and Human Development. The research team will build on their important work by examining Black students’ emotional, psychological, and behavioral responses to their university’s enslavement history.
Focusing on institutions founded before the Civil War, the research team has tracked and categorized how universities have confronted their histories with slavery from 2000 to 2020. Their project examined 191 universities, and initial findings revealed that only 23 percent of the institutions had engaged in at least one reparation type, such as research, revealing, and truth-telling, by the end of 2020. 
Their study will further explore how the historical contexts of universities continue to impact how students of African descent experience their campus, including their relationships with peers and faculty, and what universities are doing, if anything, to acknowledge and address their past slavery ties.
“Our study aims to understand Black students’ perceptions, experiences and stress responses to their university’s history of slavery and how these responses may vary across institutions,” says Daché. “Ultimately, we hope to provide empirical evidence of how history and institutional policy can contribute to Black college student experiences at some of the oldest campuses in the United States.”
Daché is a graduate of the higher education program at the Warner School. She is a nationally recognized scholar whose work looks at disparities in access to higher education, particularly as they relate to a person’s race and physical location within a community.
The Spencer Foundation has been a leading funder of education research since 1971 and is the only national foundation focused exclusively on supporting education research.