Launched last fall, the network – part of U of T’s Institutional Stategic Initiatives program – seeks to enhance the research capacity of Black scholars at the university through mentorship and pathways, funding and investment, collaboration and partnerships and research excellence.
The network represents “a big shift in terms of the university recognizing what’s been going on in the world … and really trying to talk about how we build toward a different today and a different future,” Beth Coleman, associate professor at the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology at U of T Mississauga and the network’s inaugural director, told University Affairs.
Alissa Trotz, director of the Women & Gender Studies Institute at U of T and a member of the BRN’s steering committee, added that the network “has to be properly resourced, to be able to support the kind of excellent work that is done by and about Black folk, so that it can generate all kinds of exciting research collaborations [and] synergies across different parts of the university.”
As part of that journey, the network is planning to open physical office spaces on all three campuses – St. George, U of T Scarborough and U of T Mississauga. “It’s part of the clear endorsement from the university that this is an important initiative, but it’s also part of creating community and a space of easy, good relations,” said Coleman, who, along with Trotz, is a founding member of the network.
“It’s nice to have multiple places where you show up, and you’re going to run into somebody you want to talk to, and you feel at home.”