Race, Politics & Policy Center Opens Nov. 1; Cornel West to headline inaugural spring lecture

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Michael Fauntroy. Photo by: Shelby Burgess/Strategic Communications/George Mason University

Since returning to George Mason University earlier this year, Schar School Professor Michael Fauntroy has been ready to hit the ground running. He founded the new Race, Politics, and Policy Center that will officially launch on Nov. 1st—and said there’s a lot to be on the lookout for.

“I’m really looking forward to having a positive impact on the university and putting together a vehicle to position the university toward the forefront of our national conversation about race, politics, and public policy,” Fauntroy said.

Cornel West. Photo provided.

Fauntroy said the center will advance student learning, enlighten public discourse, and inspire civic engagement.

“We hope to be able to energize the university community,” he said, adding that students will have the chance to conduct research and work on center projects. “It’s going to be a dynamic place, one that’s working at this intersection of theory and practice.”

The center’s introductory webinar is Thursday, Nov. 4, and gives the Mason community the opportunity to hear from Fauntroy and learn more about the center, its mission, vision, and upcoming events. Register to attend here.

A major highlight for the center will be its inaugural spring lecture on April 14 at Van Metre Hall Auditorium on the Arlington Campus with American philosopher, author, professor and political activist Cornel West.

Fauntroy said he and West will cover a variety of different topics that intersect with the Race, Politics, and Policy Center. In particular, West has often focused on the role of race, gender, and class in American society.

“He’s a profound man, and we want to give him an opportunity to share his wisdom with the audience,” Fauntroy said.

Keesha Middlemass. Photo provided.

The center isn’t just for Schar School students, Fauntroy said, but the whole university community and beyond—as the topics cut across disciplines from social justice to criminal justice policy, to health care and more.

One example of that is the center’s January event with Howard University Professor Keesha Middlemass who will speak on ex-offender reentry policies.

“[Middlemass] wrote what I consider to be one of the great books in recent years on the way in which public policy decisions can impact somebody throughout their lives,” Fauntroy said. “[Her book] ‘Convicted and Condemned: The Politics and Policies of Prisoner Reentry,’ looks at the public policies that are created that make it more difficult for people who have served their time to come out on the other side and reenter society.”

There’s a lot to unpack in that particular topic, but whether it’s food insecurity, homelessness, or any other number of potential barriers, Middlemass will address those from a public policy perspective, Fauntroy said.

Tony Affigne. Photo provided.

In April, the center will also welcome Providence College Professor Tony Affigne who will discuss Latino politics.

Fauntroy said he is motivated by wanting to make an impact for students and contribute to the national conversation on race with the center’s events and activities.

“I’m excited about what we have the potential to be, and to do, and the value we can bring to the university and the Northern Virginia community,” he said.

To learn more about the center, and sign up for email updates visit rppc.schar.gmu.edu.