CRE2 brings the research force of Washington University to study how race and ethnicity are integral to the most complex and challenging issues of our time.

We believe in field-defining research, innovative learning, and strategic engagement that will transform scholarship, policy and clinical interventions where race and ethnicity are at the center.

Key Pillars and Initiatives

CRE2 pursues three key areas to become a leading and field-defining institution in the study of race, ethnicity and equity — research, learning and community. We identify these three pillars as our beliefs. Each pillar enlivens signature initiatives designed to evolve as CRE2 develops. Initiatives will be synergistic across pillars, addressing research, learning, and community goals collectively. Our pillars give CRE2 its structure, while our initiatives offer the flexibility to pioneer dynamic research, policy, and practice.

CRE2 Themes

Every year CRE2 designs a theme to guide our work. These themes aim to encourage research across the seven Washington University schools and many disciplines that take up questions of race and/or ethnicity. The themes are not intended to exclude any scholarship, and we invite proposals for all of our initiatives and opportunities beyond the current themes.

2023-2024 Theme

Past as Present: Learning from History to Center Equity in the Future 

At CRE2, we believe that it is critical, now, more than ever, to acknowledge how past harms affect contemporary inequities across a broad range of outcomes, domestically and globally. History is critical to the pursuit of equity. If we do not know how inequities have occurred, our solutions for inequities will not be maximally effective. In the United States, many people lack critical awareness of how history shapes contemporary outcomes. This fuels political polarization, anti-Black racism, and on a basic level, lack of recognition of different people’s humanity based on phenotypic differences. Globally, we must critically analyze how past harms such as colonialism have fundamentally shaped the entire ecosystem of some regions of the world. There are vigorous attacks on the ability of citizens, especially educators and researchers, to accurately describe history and link sociopolitical factors to the outcomes of today. Political rhetoric has culminated in policies that attempt to restrict what scholars can say and teach as well as efforts to ban books and multimedia content from schools and libraries. Simultaneously, there are sustained efforts to disregard empirical data that explain inequities along race/ethnicity while promoting ahistorical, rudimentary anecdotes related to supposed character deficits or even genetics to explain inequities. These efforts only reify the ideologies, policies, and practices that have historically shaped inequities.  

This year, CRE2 will be encouraging the Washington University community as well as our  broader partners to boldly confront the past in order to craft a more just and equitable future. We believe that our collective resolve must be even stronger now, especially considering the current social and political context. CRE2 hopes to lead the way through a series of public lectures and interdisciplinary symposia to promote ways to disrupt historical harms in order to pave the way to a more equitable future. We encourage you to stay tuned for news about our upcoming events and learning opportunities. 

2022-2023 Theme

Visualizing Race and Ethnicity: Algorithms, Discourses, and Design

Even as we see promise in the ability of machines to “engineer equity”—to help us detect and problem solve for bias—emerging controversies also reveal that as machines learn they have comprehended and are beginning to perfect human bias and discriminatory practices.  Recent efforts to redesign space have laid bare how architecture and design also shape community with discourses and rhetoric that may reinforce rather than ameliorate disparities. Algorithmic surveillance of these spaces, places and communities underscores how race and/or ethnicity are reified through design, and intersect with forms of spatial organization, cultural practices, and dominant institutions.

Past themes

Innovations in Understanding & Improving Health Equity

Health equity remains an elusive yet crucial goal for most societies. Identifying, diagnosing, and upending racial and ethnic disparities across the myriad manifestations of health care and public health are imperative for a just, democratic world. Successful interventions require both embrace of and critical engagement with innovations in medicine and public health.

Race and the Future of Democracy

Recent events in the United States and around the world have reinforced how linked issues of race and ethnicity are to political democracy and democratic institutions. The connections between race and the meanings of democratic citizenship on a global scale stretch deep into the past, and they undoubtedly will be crucial to the very future of democracy itself.

Global Migratory Representations, Histories, and Crises

The migration of people across political boundaries is inseparable from ethnic and racial tensions, vast economic disparities, and the pursuit of hope and greater equity. The histories and representations of these movements attempt to better understand the impacts on the human experience, while at the same time they often have to engage moments of profound human crisis.

Legal, Spatial, and Political Justice

Across domains of “justice,” racially and ethnically just outcomes continue to elude us. It is increasingly clear that conventionally understood domains of justice, including political theory and empirical inquiry, as well as law and regulatory institutions, are in need of new frameworks and methodologies to define and conceive racial and ethnic justice. At the same time, new movements are laying claim to the territory of justice, including spatial, design, digital, and environmental justice.