We are honored to have EWU McNair Alumna Dr. Frank C. King Jr. joining us for our "Social Justice in Research" Plenary Session on June 2, at 9 am (register for free here). In addition to working as an Associate Professor, Dr. King is the Executive Director: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville; Special Assistant to the Senior Diversity Office; and a Program Coordinator for Ethnic Studies. Dr. King will join 3 other EWU McNair alumni in this panel preceding the EWU Online Symposium, a collaboration between McNair and CSTEM. He earned his PhD in American Studies at Washington State University. Dr. King graduated from EWU in 2004 with a major in History and minors in Africana Studies and Anthropology. Below is an interview with Dr. King about what he's doing now and some of his thoughts on social justice and research.
Our Interview with Dr. Frank C. King Jr.:
What work are you doing now?
I teach topics along the lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, and religion. Areas of research include African American Studies, Afrocentric philosophy, Hip Hop pedagogy, the prison industrial complex, and political economy. As an Executive Director of DEI, I work on action planning for the university to include a stronger presence of DEI topics in the classroom. I am also a project manager for various other projects for the campus."
What does “Social Justice in Research” mean to you?
It means to me to understand systems of oppression. To be sound through scholarship and being able to convey the ideas you've learned to reach people to help them understand how these systems influence or oppress them as individuals, as well as systemically."
What do you see as the purpose of academic research in this current moment?
Research to me is about gaining knowledge of a topic and being able to share that knowledge with others. To find ways to make people's lives better should be the focus for most research. But also having research to help people understand major problems in the world is also important."
How did your undergraduate research experience prepare you for the next steps you have taken?
I was very fortunate to have amazing scholars at EWU. Anthropology, History, African American Studies, and Geography professors pushed me to want to learn more of the topics they taught. I was an active learner, which made me want to learn how to research. So, I think that desire is key, the process of researching comes naturally after with guidance from great instructors."
What advice would you give to an undergraduate researcher?
Find what YOU want to research. Find great mentors that will push you and support you. Don't be afraid of falling on your face when it comes to research and writing. And read as much as you possibly can about the topic."
What advice would you give to an undergraduate faculty research mentor?
Remember that it is the student's project. I had a mentor in grad school that pushed me to write on a topic they wanted me to do. We have to find a way to help the student find their voice. We can challenge them. We can maybe even say how difficult/impossible the topic will be for the student. But we have to let them find their way."