Some folks have asked about the purpose of Black Doctorates Matter. Is it an association? Is it an organization? Well, consider it a movement to support the historically marginalized doctoral experience. It is a movement situated in the burgeoning area of higher education research focused on doctoral education and the doctoral experience where there is a need to: broaden our understanding of experiences related to doctoral degree completion, increase awareness about the institutional and organizational programmatic initiatives focused on strengthening graduate education for underrepresented groups, understand key transitions associated with the doctoral process and doctoral student success (including transitions toward the doctorate and beyond degree completion into the academy and other career pathways); and, to celebrate the development of research on these topics and the scholars committed to raising awareness about these issues.
While there are numerous efforts, by faculty, administrators, and institutions focused on supporting historically marginalized doctoral students (acknowledging that there are folks who have worked tirelessly to support underrepresented populations in graduate education), a key distinction of this movement lies in the need for more work to be done to systematically study these efforts to understand their impact and contribution in higher education. And, there needs to be increased visibility on the scholarship that promotes racial and cultural inclusion at the graduate school level. The Black Doctorates Matter movement attempts to do this by: partnering with current and emerging scholars whose work focuses on the black doctoral experience and/or racial/cultural issues associated with doctoral degree attainment; serving as a key resource for disseminating scholarship on the black doctoral experience, and connecting the role of scholarship on the black doctoral experience to local and national social justice initiatives (i.e., Black Lives Matter) and the ways they are embraced by doctoral students.
There are several intended outcomes of this work. First, research indicates that students of color continue to struggle with barriers to degree completion. For example, scholarship focused on advising, faculty mentorship, socialization experiences, student perceptions of their marginalized experience continue to highlight the ways they may impact disparities regarding transition into the professoriate. Black Doctorates Matter will provide a resource and evidence-based social media space to support the experiences of students interested in sharing their insights about these issues. Furthermore, Black Doctorates Matter will serve as a major hub for other social media sites committed to serving historically marginalized doctoral experiences. Some of these sites include, the Black Doctoral Network, The Birth of an Association, BlackDoctor.org and many more as social media venues continue to grow, expand and/or develop. Second, Black Doctorates Matter will serve as a site for facilitating research studies on the underrepresented doctoral student experience. Additionally, work will highlight seminal and key publications to make connections between the research and the ways it impacts the academy, industry, our communities, and our understanding of the relevance and contribution of doctoral degree completion from underrepresented groups, globally. Furthermore, this movement will engage in collaboration with doctoral students, faculty, and administrators to uplift, encourage and honor the racial and cultural traditions and heritage in their philosophies, research, and practice. In fact, inaugural Black Doctorates Matter research and writing already feature doctoral students as authors and continues to support their commitments to building and maintaining thriving research agendas.
While this movement continues to develop, we look forward to promoting this much needed movement as a way to build cultural capital to support increasingly changing demographics in higher education. And, we hope this work will inspire others to innovate and think outside of the box about the ways we can strengthen and promote racial and cultural awareness within spaces that have been historically exclusive. We hope you will support the movement. If you haven’t done so already, please join or Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Black-Doctorates-Matter-1548327462109688/) and stay tuned!
To learn more about this work please visit Dr. Felder’s website at: www.pamelafelder.com