The CSRD actively pursues research in five broad areas, representing today’s most pressing issues of race and democracy:
1) Civil Rights and Public Policy — from voting rights to Black Lives Matter
This research area focuses on the historic and contemporary debates over civil rights and public policy, ranging from the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act to immigration reform, affirmative action, and stop and frisk controversies. This research area will include a digital media project critically mapping the local and national voices who participated in the Civil Rights Movement then and now.
2) Race, Democracy, and Mass Incarceration Project
The New Jim Crow Project: Race, Democracy, and Mass Incarceration:
This research area focuses on issues of mass incarceration and the proliferation of a prison industrial complex as the civil rights issue of the twenty-first century. What law professor Michelle Alexander has characterized as “The New Jim Crow” represents one of the most striking issues of contemporary American society.
3) Racial Justice, Inequality, and Democracy
Immigration and Global Movements for Democracy
This research area seeks to document democracy as a global political project whose successes, failures, and projections go beyond American borders. It should stimulate a campus, city, and statewide conversation—informed by current research—and dialogue about efforts to build capacity for democratic breakthroughs around the world.
Urban Policy: From the Local to the Global
This research area focuses on the historical evolution of public policy in America, paying special attention to the way in which public policy continues to shape the development of both urban centers and the suburbanization of poverty, racial segregation, and economic inequality in the 21st century.
4) Race Relations in 21st Century America
This research area seeks to promote, encourage, and sustain a research-informed national dialogue about race and democracy. Through campus-wide workshops, teach-ins, symposia, brown bag lunches, and an interactive website, this research area will ignite a long overdue national dialogue about the complexities of race and democracy in the new millennium.
5) Race and the American Presidency
Barack Obama’s election and reelection as the 44th President of the United States are watershed moments in American and world history, with global reverberations that have been witnessed around the world. This research area examines how the American presidency has shaped racial policy historically, paying special attention to how the executive branch responded to the postwar racial crisis through sweeping, often controversial, policy debates, reforms, and the passing of legislation aimed at promoting racial equality and ending segregation.
The CSRD’s mission is to promote engaged research and scholarship focused on the ways issues of race, democracy, and public policy impact the lives of global citizens.
Through interdisciplinary scholarship, technological innovation, and public symposia, the Center seeks to develop an interactive model of history that fosters a robust intellectual and civic dialogue on race relations, civil rights, law, international relations, and democracy at UT Austin and within the wider national political and policy landscape. The Center will be an intellectual hub, public policy clearinghouse, and interdisciplinary headquarters that builds bridges across campuses, promotes partnership across schools, and fosters collaboration across disciplines.
The CSRD’s ultimate goal will be to serve as a national hub of civil rights, public history, and public policy research that energizes scholarly, student, and practitioner debates, and promotes interaction across universities, departments, schools, disciplines, and municipalities.