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A graphic advertises the new UNM program “Black Research 101” offered for UNM students. Photo courtesy of UNM Newsroom.

New UNM course seeks to expand research among Black communities

Celine Ayala, a doctoral student from the University of New Mexico, has created “Black Research 101,” a new program for UNM students who are interested in research with Black communities. The program is set to be launched in the 2023 fall semester.

Black Research 101 is a cohort-based program where students will learn to create a research proposal that is specific to the study of Black diasporic communities. They will learn about different perspectives such as Black feminist thought and Afro-pessimism, according to the UNM Newsroom.

Ayala said she created this program to provide undergraduate students who are interested in doing qualitative research with Black communities the opportunity to learn about different methods and theories that are not often taught in traditional research classes.

“The theories learned will be tailored to the research interests of the students accepted in the program,” Ayala said.

The program’s creation was also supported by UNM’s El Centro de la Raza director Rosa Isela Cervantes and program manager Alejandro Mendiaz-Rivera, according to Brandi Stone, UNM’s African American Student Services director.

This program will cover a wide range of research and information, according to the African American Student Services website, providing an integral and unique opportunity for students, according to Stone.  

“This might be the only or (one of) very few spaces where students will have an opportunity to really create impact and really be able to unpack their identity,'' Stone said.

Black Research 101 is open for all undergraduate students with no experience required, but interested students will go through an application process that opens in September. There will be a wide range of workshops offered and a funded research trip to South Carolina, according to the UNM Newsroom. Skye McMillon, a UNM communications and journalism student, explained the importance of such a program to them.

“I think that this would be something I’m interested in; I think it’s important that we research Black communities so we can get a better understanding of them,” McMillon said. “I also know some people that would also be interested in it too.”  

Black Research 101 will aim to help students gain knowledge on analyzing data and help them prepare for graduate school or a research-based career. The program also seeks to provide students with the opportunity to develop their own research projects and questions, according to Stone.

Stone said this program will allow students to understand the world and the impacts of Black history and oppression.

“I think that it’s important that we are teaching all students how to engage in research in culturally responsive ways. I think what's more important is that we are learning how to do responsive research with community and not just on communities, to really impact change," Stone said.

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Participating students will be mentored by graduate students who developed a curriculum that exposes them to qualitative research questions, according to Stone.

“They will learn how to develop a strong research question and look at conceptual and theoretical frameworks to get them started into a research journey,” Stone said.

Ayala’s own work examines Afrolatinx experiences framed within an Afrolatinx critical theory of race to investigate how Afrolatinx bodies are racialized and gendered through a transnational history of colonization, imperialism and anti-Blackness, according to Black Latinas Know Collective.

“It is extremely important now more than ever to support undergraduate students who are interested in doing research with Black communities so that we can continue to highlight the injustices that are happening in Black communities globally, as well as highlight global Black resilience and Black joy,” Ayala said.

Applications for Black Research 101 will become available during fall 2023 registration. Students interested can email AASS for more information.

Miyawni Curtis is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @MiyawniCurtis 


Miyawni Curtis

 Miyawni Curtis is a senior reporter at the Daily Lobo and served as the Summer 2023 news editor. She can be contacted on Twitter @MiyawniCurtis 

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