Dr. Charles Davis is an assistant professor in the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education who joined the School of Education (SOE) in Fall 2020. Dr. Davis joins the SOE with extensive research and teaching experience on issues of race, oppression, and domination within U.S. higher education and social contexts.
Tell us about your research.
“My research broadly focuses on issues of race, racism, and resistance in higher education and its social contexts. In particular, my work has broadly examined issues of campus climate, student activism, and equitable outcomes for racially minoritized students, staff, and faculty. This has included a recently published report in partnership with the NAACP (and funded by the Lumina Foundation) examining the Black student debt crisis and funding higher education for the Black public good.
"Moving forward, I am focusing my scholarly attention on issues of campus policing and mass incarceration, whereby two interrelated concerns are guiding my work. The first attempts to uncover how colleges and universities facilitate the expansion of policing, state surveillance, and the carceral continuum of mass incarceration. The second, because such exercises of power are always met with resistance, seeks to understand the ways campus and community stakeholders are currently organizing to divest from the institution of policing while investing in alternative systems of safety and security.
"These two lines of inquiry remain largely unaddressed by current higher education scholarship but demand serious attention. As I argue in two recent essays, the use of university police and deputized actors to (re)enforce boundaries between campus and community through the subjective determination of insiders and outsiders has serious implications for campus racial climate and meaningful ‘town and gown’ relationships.”
In light of your research, what is one thing you urge us to consider as we navigate this triple pandemic?
“It is important we seriously consider how this moment demands we take more humanizing approaches to teaching and learning that recognize the challenges our students are facing and doing whatever we can to lessen the often burdensome expectations of performance under pressure. We must offer a greater demonstration of care and concern in our pedagogical practices, one that offers Black students (and others) healthy choices and second chances while recognizing they are doing the best they can within an otherwise impossible situation."
In the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, what are ways that we can leverage technology to promote healing, anti-racism and liberation?
“For myself, this has opened the possibility of utilizing my classroom space as one that integrates a set of healing practices (i.e., guided meditations and breathwork) that draw upon existing playlists on Spotify and videos on YouTube. In addition, I invited a wellness facilitator as a guest lecturer in the middle of the semester to collectively guide our course in a focused mediation exercise to help us process and release the tension we were holding leading up to the election. This practice was tremendously helpful in clearing our “classroom” energy from all the difficulties we were experiencing throughout the pandemic(s) and created space for us to meaningfully engage in the course material without the full gravity of how challenging everyday life has become for so many.”
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The School of Education is proud to be a leader in the campus-wide initiative promoting Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity. Adding "Justice" to these values underscores the role of educators in the creation of just societies. Through research, public scholarship, community building, and the preparation of education practitioners and policymakers, we articulate and advance our dije agenda.