Ford Foundation Funds GC’s Newly Formed JustPublics@365 to Address Social Inequality through Digital Media

The Graduate Center of the City University of New York (GC) announced on November 14 that the Ford Foundation has provided a research grant to launch JustPublics@365, which aims to increase the impact of scholarly work on inequality by forging links among scholars, media professionals, and political activists, and inspiring informed public debate. The project will assist academics in framing their research for social media and explore new metrics to measure the impact of networked scholarship with the goal of advancing an agenda for social justice.

“We’re delighted that the Ford Foundation shares our long-term vision for bringing academic research to bear on pressing problems of social justice,” said GC Provost Chase F. Robinson. “JustPublics@365 is an ambitious effort to maximize the influence of faculty research through the innovative use of a wide range of social media, by creating partnerships among academics, activists, and policymakers, and by seeking new ways to measure impact.

“The Graduate Center, with its distinguished history of research on inequality, is uniquely qualified to work with the Ford Foundation to create a more informed public sphere,” added Robinson.

At the Graduate Center and beyond it, JustPublics@365 engages a dialogue among researchers on inequality, activists, and media. It uses the networked landscape of the Internet and the physical environs of the GC—JustPublics@365 is named for the institution’s address at 365 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan—to bring attention to those inequalities across several domains: economics, housing, race and ethnicity, immigration, health, and education. The program’s first public event will be held at the GC on March 6, 2013.

“The pathway for scholars working on social justice research to engage the public via traditional and new forms of media will require collaborative models like JustPublics@365 now and into the future,” said Darren Walker, vice president of the Education, Creativity and Free Expression program at the Ford Foundation. “An informed citizenry is a prerequisite for democracy, and embarking on creative experiments to connect the public to research on critical issues is a necessary priority.”

JustPublics@365 will be overseen by Provost Robinson; Jessie Daniels, a professor of public health and sociology at the Graduate Center; and Matthew K. Gold, who serves as advisor to the provost for master’s programs and digital initiatives and as acting executive officer of the M.A. Program in Liberal Studies.

Daniels, an internationally recognized expert on Internet manifestations of racism, has authored two books about race and various forms of media—White Lies (Routledge, 1997) and Cyber Racism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009)—along with dozens of journal articles and book chapters. Her research has been supported by the MacArthur Foundation, Duke University’s Civic Discourse and the Public Sphere project, and the Third Millennium Foundation. Her current work focuses on the ways race and the political economy influence feminist blogging. Her scholarly blog, Racism Review, gets 200,000 unique visitors monthly and has had well over two million visitors since it began in 2007. Forbes magazine recently named Daniels one of “20 Inspiring Women to Follow on Twitter.”

Gold is editor of Debates in the Digital Humanities and has published in the Journal of Modern Literature, as well as in the edited collections From A to <A>: Keywords of Markup; Learning Through Digital Media: Experiments in Technology and Pedagogy; and Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Practices, Principles and Politics. His digital humanities projects, including “Looking for Whitman” and “Commons in a Box,” have been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Office of Digital Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Through the $550,000 research grant, Robinson, Daniels, and Gold will develop an innovative “alt metrics” measurement program with the GC to assess the impact of academic research on the public sphere and social justice initiatives.

For more information on JustPublics@365, visit: