American Institutes for Research Strengthens Partnerships to Diversify the Behavioral and Social Science Research Fields

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Arlington, Va. – The American Institutes for Research (AIR) is strengthening its efforts to diversify the fields of behavioral and social science research (BSSR) through a partnership with three large universities across the country. The AIR Pipeline Partnership Program seeks to address a persistent lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the BSSR fields and ensure that individuals from underrepresented backgrounds are not marginalized or excluded from opportunities, resources and supports to excel in their career pursuits.

A diverse and culturally competent workforce are crucial components to ensuring the BSSR fields can effectively address inequities and opportunity gaps across the globe, helping researchers and consultants better understand the needs and challenges of their communities and the questions that must be asked when designing and conducting studies and providing technical assistance. 

AIR launched the program in 2020 and is working directly with three universities that serve diverse student bodies: Howard University in Washington, D.C., Georgia State University, in Atlanta, and the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Grounded in AIR’s mission to generate and use rigorous evidence that contributes to a better, more equitable world, AIR experts and Institute Fellows work collaboratively with university faculty and a multidisciplinary team to provide discussion panels, seminars and interactive workshops that explore best practices in research methodology and program and policy implementation, with an emphasis on cultural and linguistic competencies. Students also can participate in mentorships and internships with leaders who conduct research, evaluation and technical assistance projects. These efforts enable university students and faculty and AIR staff to diversify their professional networks, enrich research pursuits, and reinforce and extend skills that are relevant for research careers.

“This signature initiative is an extension of our ongoing efforts to build cultural competence within AIR and the field,” said David Myers, President and CEO of AIR. “Our collaboration with these institutions offers students the opportunity to explore careers in research and practice. We are excited to co-create opportunities for students to apply their learnings through internships and mentorships, further empowering them to be the researchers of tomorrow.”

While its first year faced obstacles due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Pipeline Partnership Program was able to hold launch events and some learning seminars that introduced attendees to the work of distinguished academic scholars, AIR experts, and opportunities in the BSSR fields. In the coming months, AIR will host a virtual summer seminar on cultural and linguistic competency in survey design methodology, will offer internships to provide students with the opportunity to work on active research projects, and will expand its mentoring program, P3 Engage, which will match students with mentors who are world renowned experts in the field.

“We are excited to partner with AIR for this program and to support AIR's belief that intellectual diversity is necessary to solve the big problems we face in the world today,” said Dana A. Williams, Graduate School Dean and Professor of African American Literature at Howard University. “Howard and AIR share a commitment to creating resources and evidence that will contribute to a more just and equitable society.”

“As an Hispanic-serving institution, our collaboration with the AIR Pipeline Partnership Program continues to offer our diverse graduate student population the opportunity to engage with and learn from renowned researchers and practitioners,” noted Juliet Langman, Interim Dean, College of Education and Human Development and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies at UTSA.

“AIR's Pipeline Partnership Program offers Georgia State’s Graduate School a wonderful chance to contribute to the diversification of the research workforce in social and behavioral sciences,” said Lisa Armistead, Dean of the Georgia State University Graduate School.

The Pipeline Partnership Program is funded through the AIR Equity Initiative, a focused effort to address social and economic inequities that arise from systemic segregation. The AIR Equity Initiative is a direct outgrowth of AIR’s mission—to generate and use rigorous evidence that contributes to a better, more equitable world—and seeks to merge the collective strengths of research and technical assistance with community, practice and policy experts to identify key levers for structural change toward equity.

For more information about the partnership, contact Tracy Gray, AIR; Dana Williams, Howard University; Elizabeth Castillo, UTSA; or Lisa Armistead, Georgia State University.

About AIR
Established in 1946, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of education, health and the workforce. AIR’s work is driven by its mission to generate and use rigorous evidence that contributes to a better, more equitable world. With headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, AIR has offices across the U.S. and abroad. For more information, visit www.air.org.

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