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Emory awards funds for five faculty projects focused on arts and social justice
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Five Emory faculty projects focused on social justice or the socially-engaged arts will receive up to $1.4 million in funding over the next three years through an Office of the Provost grant program to foster research and scholarly work that advances social justice.

The projects are diverse ventures ranging from the production of digital marketing tools for Central American coffee farmers to a feature-length film that tells the story of a daughter whose mother is incarcerated. The Office of the Provost is funding the grants in a program inspired by a university-wide commitment initiated in 2020 by President Gregory L. Fenves to address racial and social justice. 

“Whether it’s a documentary, feature film, digital marketing materials or a collection of powerfully told stories, these pursuits have the power to disrupt long-standing patterns of systemic inequity,” says Ravi Bellamkonda, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “These grants fund creative projects led by our world-class faculty while furthering Emory’s longstanding mission to serve humanity.”

Applicants submitted proposals in October 2022 outlining their projects’ social and institutional impacts. An ad hoc review committee comprised of Emory faculty members reviewed the submissions and recommended awards to Office of the Provost leadership. Each project will receive up to three years of seed funding if annual benchmarks are met.

The award-winning projects are:


Understanding and Enhancing the Efficacy of Farm Stories Presented by Women and Youth Coffee Growers

Peter Roberts, professor of organizational management
Goizueta Business School

Emory students will assist Central America coffee growers in developing their “farm stories,” critical components needed to connect growers to coffee buyers. Data links growers with cultivated biographical stories to higher earnings and increased ability to participate in specialty coffee markets. This project will connect coffee growers to buyers through digital tools funded by the grant. 


Land Dispossession, Inequality and the Legacies of Slavery in Africa and Latin America

Mariana Candido, associate professor of history, and Adriana Chira, assistant professor of history
Emory College of Arts and Sciences

This project, conducted in collaboration with Mariana Dias Paes at the Max Planck Institute for Law and Legal Theory, will study land dispossession in Africa and Latin America andestablish an open-access digital resource that shares critical historical documents, transcripts, legal papers and other records relating to the topic. The grant also funds the creation of two undergraduate courses on the politics of development, rural transformation and food sovereignty that will combine a trip to Puerto Rico and Cuba with in-class instruction. 


HBCU History Makers

Marla Frederick, Asa Griggs Candler professor of religion and culture
Candler School of Theology

With student assistance, faculty will create a digital archive that chronicles the stories of historically Black college and university (HBCU) builders and graduates. The archive will include 10- to 14-minute documentary shorts that explore the significance of an HBCU education to participants.


Mother’s Day

Dehanza Rogers, assistant professor in film and media
Emory College of Arts and Sciences

Faculty will create a feature-length film centered on the multi-year story of a Black girl whose mother is behind bars. The story documents the evolution of emotions and the mother-daughter relationship through annual Mother’s Day visits. The film explores Black motherhood and the carceral system, social justice, gender equality and reproductive rights.


Exploring Careers in Medical Laboratory Science through Graphic Novels: Ensuring Adult Success through Informed Education in Childhood

Romil Saxena, MD, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine
Emory School of Medicine 

Artists will create graphic novels to inform and educate schoolchildren in science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM) careers in the medical laboratory sciences. The books will foster interest in STEM education and guide young readers to consider careers in healthcare.

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