Minority Serving Institutions Coffee Chat: Fostering Belonging Through Equity-Minded, Anti-Racist Course Design

The coffee chat series will serve as a space for scholars and practitioners to share ideas, best practices, and other resources related to R1 and Minority Serving Institutions relationships and mechanisms of support for students that transition from MSIs into R1 for graduate and professional education. The series will highlight examples from U-M, exemplars from across the country, and scholars and practitioners that explore and implement practices that foster positive experiences and outcomes for students from MSIs.

This series is primarily intended for faculty and staff that have existing relationships with MSIs, or for those who do not but are interested in forming relationships, as well as graduate students who have interest in this topic.

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Royel Johnson, Assistant Professor of Higher Education, Pennsylvania State University

Sense of belonging is a basic human need that all students are motivated to fulfill in social contexts. Yet, racist and oppressive institutional structures and practices conspire in the marginalization and alienation that minoritized students consistently report on campus. In this talk, Royel M. Johnson will identify promising practices that instructors should consider to counteract disconfirming messages that minoritized students receive about their place or “fit” on campus. Drawing on the concepts of equity-mindedness and anti-racism, he will provide attendees with specific recommendations for (re)designing their courses in ways that attend to students’ belonging needs. 

Royel M. Johnson's Biography:

Royel M. Johnson is assistant professor of higher education at Pennsylvania State University, where he is also associate director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education. However, he will join the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California as associate professor of higher education January 1, 2022. Johnson is a nationally recognized scholar, whose interdisciplinary research addresses issues of educational access, racial equity, and student success. His work has an unapologetic focus on racially/ethnically minoritized and other institutionally marginalized populations including young people with foster care experience and justice-involved youth.

Johnson maintains a highly active program of research with over 40 academic publications, in addition to three forthcoming books/monographs: Racial Equity on College Campuses: Connecting Research and Practice (SUNY Press); Family Matters: How Youth in Foster Care Access College (Teachers College Press); and Enacting Student Success: Critical and Alternative Perspectives for Practice (Jossey-Bass). Moreover, he is principal investigator (PI), or Co-PI, on grants and contracts exceeding $5.1 million from the Spencer Foundation, Institute of Education Sciences, and Department of Health and Human Sciences, among others. He has delivered over 100 talks, lectures, and workshops for various stakeholders, instantiating his commitment to connecting research to policy and practice to improve the material conditions of underserved populations.

For his early-career accomplishments, he received the 2020 Distinguished Young Alumni Award from the University of Illinois; ACPA—College Student Educators International’s 2020 Emerging Scholar Award; and the 2021 Cotterrill Leadership Enhancement Award, recognizing “exemplary leadership” in Penn State’s College of Education. He holds a B.A. in political science and Ed.M. in educational policy studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Ph.D. in higher education and student affairs, with a cognate in race and social policy from Ohio State.

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