Scholars from the Auburn University College of Education are moving forward in their research collaboration with education colleagues from the University of Alabama. Over the next two years, the collaboration will focus on critical studies in education, which is centered on understanding cultural, institutional, and structural dynamics that create and perpetuate injustice, inequity, and oppression in education and schooling.
“This collaboration began last year when my colleague at Alabama, Dr. Stephanie Shelton, whom I had met previously through our work with the American Educational Research Association, was awarded an SEC Faculty Travel Program grant,” Strunk said. “I too was awarded one of the travel grants, and we each visited the other’s campus for research presentations and to develop a stronger level of collaboration between the two institutions around critical scholarship. We were both eager to expand the collaboration, and we received matched funding from our respective deans, Dr. Betty Lou Whitford at Auburn and Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh at Alabama.”
Strunk is part of the Critical Studies Working Group here at Auburn, and Shelton has similar research interests at Alabama.
Although there were more research proposals than could be funded, seven strong projects have emerged. Each project will pair researchers from the two universities, and the collaboration will ultimately include a summer writing retreat at Auburn, leading up to a presentation of the research findings at the Educational Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology, and Counseling graduate research symposium in Tuscaloosa in April 2020.
Faculty members from Auburn whose proposals were funded include Dr. Kamden Strunk, Dr. Antonio Duran, Dr. Laura Parson, Dr. Leonard Taylor, Dr. Andrew Pendola, Dr. David Marshall, Dr. Crystal Garcia, and Dr. Jill Meyer. Meyer is in the Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, and Counseling, while the remaining faculty members come from the Department of Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology. There are seven scholars from Alabama who will collaborate on these projects.
“The research topics are timely and vital for improving educational equity in Alabama,” Strunk said. “They will examine such issues as race and racial segregation in charter schools in rural Alabama, transgender admissions policies in higher education, learning theories in higher education, college student experiences, methodological issues in critical scholarship, and (dis)ability and mental health.”
All of these collaborative projects aim to improve education and shift educational institutions toward equity throughout the state. The projects also provide important opportunities for graduate students in both colleges.
Strunk’s collaborator on his project, entitled “An Examination of Methodological Quality in Critical and Queer Scholarship,” Dr. Stephanie Shelton from Alabama, agreed on the importance and timing of the collaboration.
“Some of these relationships are brand new, which is exciting,” Shelton said. “The scholarship that’s being generated through this collaborative would not happen without this program, and it’s something that will matter to UA, Auburn, the State of Alabama, and hopefully beyond it.”