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Northwestern University
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At the Intersection of Diversity and Democracy

A new research center explores how race and gender are shaping today’s politics

Many people assumed the United States had entered an era of “post-racial” politics with the election of Barack Obama as president in 2008.

Associate Professor of Political Science Alvin Tillery knew otherwise.

Tillery, who recalls being physically attacked when he was among the first black children to integrate his suburban New Jersey neighborhood in the 1970s, has always kept a close eye on issues that relate to diversity and government. He says he was not surprised to hear divisive language around race and gender during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“I knew, because I track the data, that the number of white nationalist groups and militia had exploded since 2008,” Tillery said. “That radicalization has been happening through our normal politics.”

To better understand the role that race and gender play in today’s politics, Tillery has launched the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy, a new research arm housed within the College’s Department of Political Science.

Just two years since its founding, the center has already developed a robust portfolio of research and partnerships that are shedding new light on the interplay between diversity and democracy.

Studies, surveys and more

In 2017, the CSDD released a study on African-Americans’ perspectives on the effectiveness of the Black Lives Matter movement. A partnership with the genetic research company 23andMe yielded the first randomized survey of how Americans view the relationship between race and genomics. The center has also published a survey of presidential scholars who evaluated modern American presidents on their leadership on issues of diversity and inclusion.

The CSDD also hosts the “Diversity Matters” podcast, which features conversations with thought leaders on diversity and inclusion issues. And it will soon launch an annual survey of human resource and diversity officers at large institutions to track bias incidents in the workplace.

The CSDD’s work will grow even more relevant over the coming years, as the nation approaches 2040. That is the year that minorities are projected to become a majority of the American population, bringing issues of diversity and democracy ever more to the forefront of the public conversation.

“Whether there is great resistance or goodwill, I hope the CSDD can be a fulcrum to help people have the dialogues we’ll need to move forward,” Tillery says. “Because 2040 is coming, and we’ve got to learn to live together.”

Learn more about:

The Center for the Study of Diversity and

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