Revolutionizing Research for Social Change Workshop

Revolutionizing Research for Social Change: A Summer Institute A group of people with their hands raised in the sunset.  Title: Revolutionizing Research for Social Change: A Summer Institute in Anti-Racist and Decolonizing Research Methods

Applications for the 2024 Summer Institute are now closed.

What is Revolutionizing Research for Social Change: A Summer Institute in Anti-Racist and Decolonizing Research Methods?

George Mason University is excited to host its third Summer Research Institute, Revolutionizing Research for Social Change, June 23-29, 2024. Too often, the standard tools of social science research reproduce the very systems of power and subjugation social science research seeks to understand and change. We aim to use this week-long (in-person) workshop on anti-racist and decolonizing research to create space for Fellows to develop research tools to revolutionize social science inquiry.

Workshop attendance is free (including campus housing and meals). Travel is not included.

During this Summer Research Institute, participating fellows will:

    • Explore the racial and colonial history of social science research methods.
    • Examine the connections between power and knowledge.
    • Develop tools for ethical, equitable, and inclusive research practice as researchers.
    • Create research protocols grounded in anti-racist and inclusive practices.
    • Learn and share strategies for equitable and transparent research partnering with historically marginalized communities and groups.
    • Build skills in participatory and community-based research practice for change in policy and practice.
    • Grow peer networks and connect with research mentors for ongoing collaboration beyond the workshop.

The Summer Institute emphasizes ‘appreciative’ social science approaches to inquiry to not reproduce or worsen, through our research methods, the very problems social science seeks to understand and address. The Summer Institute is part of a broader project to recover and reclaim approaches to knowledge creation that have been subjugated through colonial history and racial exclusion; to provide tools for knowledge building that is equitable, restorative and just, and not extractive; to conduct research with communities and groups that benefits them, builds trust, and honors the expertise people have about their own lives and communities.

The Summer Institute in Anti-racist and Decolonial Research is a program that focuses on restorative practices for social justice. This initiative is part of a lineage of academic-oriented initiatives. Previous fellows who have attended the Summer Institute have found it to be a collaborative and participatory experience that challenges both their intellectual and social commitments. The Institute offers practical skills and knowledge to its fellows, who engage in participatory workshops to co-create opportunities to explore and implement the Institute's discoveries in their own individual research.

Where is the workshop held?

The Summer Institute is held in person at George Mason University’s Fairfax, Virginia campus. Housing is located in the on-campus residence halls, and workshop sessions are held in on-campus academic buildings.  

Be aware that Mason has three northern Virginia campuses in Fairfax, Arlington, and Manassas.  This can cause some confusion.  This workshop will be held exclusively at the Fairfax campus.

When is the Summer Institute?

The 2024 session will be held Monday, June 24, 2024 through Friday, June 28, 2024. Out-of-town participants will arrive Sunday, June 23, 2024 and depart on Saturday, June 29, 2024. Participants are expected to attend all sessions from Monday morning through Friday evening.

How can I participate in the workshop?

Summer Institute Fellows are selected through an application process. Interested individuals must submit an application via our application portal. Applications for the 2024 session will open in early 2024. This is a competitive process with a limited number of spaces available. After applications have closed, the Summer Institute leadership team will review all applications and carefully select applicants to invite to this weeklong workshop. 

Can I join virtually?

The Summer Institute is currently designed and equipped for in-person participation only. This is largely due to its highly collaborative and discussion-based nature. 

Who should apply?

M.A. and Ph.D. students with interest in careers in social science research (or related humanities fields).

Is this program competitive?

While we wish we could admit everyone who applies, we are only able to accept a limited number of fellows. Because of this, applicants should take special attention to fully complete the application. Incomplete applications will not be considered.  

What questions are on the application?

The Summer Institute application begins by asking some basic demographic questions about each applicant, such as name, contact info, institutional affiliation, and where you are in your degree program. The application also includes an essay section. Below are the essay prompts and word limits for review and preparation:

    • Tell us why you are interested in attending this intensive program. (500 word max)
    • Tell us how the summer institute aligns with your research experience and/or goals. (500 word max)
    • Please share a little about any new or ongoing research projects you are working on that engage anti-racist or decolonizing principles or that you would like mentorship on. (500 word max)
    • What identities are important for us to know/understand about you?

Only applications received through the application portal located at will be reviewed. This portal will open in early 2024.

How much does it cost to participate in the Summer Institute?

Participation in the Summer Institute is free. Travel is not included and is the responsibility of each participant.

What is included in the Summer Institute?

If selected as a fellow, workshop attendance is free. For accepted fellows not local to Fairfax, the Summer Institute will provide room and board at George Mason University in an apartment dorm style residence hall with individual, private bedrooms and shared living spaces. Those not local to Fairfax will also be given a week-long parking permit to park on campus upon request. All Summer Institute fellows, local and non-local, will be provided with 3 meals a day beginning Sunday evening and concluding on Saturday morning. 

What is NOT included in the Summer Institute?

Travel costs are not included with acceptance to the Summer Institute. All accepted fellows will need to arrange and pay for their own travel arrangements to get to the George Mason University’s Fairfax, Virginia campus. George Mason University students are not eligible for parking validation.  

What is the time commitment?

The Summer Institute will take place beginning on Sunday evening and concluding on Saturday morning. If accepted, fellows will be asked to commit to the full schedule of the program. Fellows will need to be present for the full week of scheduled events.  If you are not able to commit to this schedule, we ask that you consider applying in a future year.

Additionally, fellows that accept their spot in the Summer Institute will be asked to join mandatory pre-Institute meetings, which will take place over Zoom in the weeks preceding the workshop.

What if I cannot be there for the whole week?

We do ask that applicants commit to the full schedule. Because this is a highly competitive workshop, we ask that applicants not commit to the program unless they are able to stay for the entire duration of the scheduled program. If you are not able to commit to this schedule, we ask that you consider applying in a future year.

What do I need to bring with me to the Summer Institute?

For non-local participants staying in our residence halls, a linen package, which contains bed linens, towels, and toilet paper, is included. Otherwise, participants are encouraged to bring all the same necessities that they typically pack for travel: the necessary clothing, toiletries, chargers, any medication, and anything else one might want to have with them for travel and a week-long stay away from home. 

What is a typical schedule for the Summer Institute?

Below is a sample schedule for the week of activities. The schedule below is just a sample and is not necessarily reflective of the schedule for the upcoming 2024 session. It is intended to give applicants a sense of how out the week is laid out.

  Breakfast Morning Lunch Afternoon Dinner/ Evening
Sunday NA NA NA Arrival Welcome Dinner
Monday Evidence Wall

Introductions, what is this space? Group agreements and expectations

Framing, theory

Mentor meet-and-greet Application: participatory needs and assets assessment Dinner with mentors
Tuesday Evidence Wall Panel: What is CRT, anti-racist research, decolonial theory Lunch with mentors


Anti-racist and decolonial data collection methods

Dinner as a group
Wednesday Evidence Wall

Speaker: data collection and analysis

Panel: Operationalizing anti-racist research principles

Lunch and Q&A panel


Anti-racist and decolonial data collection methods

Reflective analysis

Dinner with mentors
Thursday Evidence Wall

Speakers: Validity, ethics; answerability

Panel: Dreaming of possibilities

Lunch and speakers


Anti-racist and decolonial data collection methods

Dinner on your own
Friday Evidence Wall

Panel: Decolonizing the sharing of research findings

Panel: Revolutionizing the Academy

Lunch Preparing to say goodbye and move forward individually and collectively Dinner and reflective dialogue
Saturday Grab-and-go Departure NA NA NA

Who sponsors the Summer Institute?

The Summer Institute is a collaboration of Johns Hopkins University School of Education George Mason University. Sponsoring partners at George Mason University include:

  • Center for Social Science Research (CSSR)
    Early Identification Program (EIP)
  • Office of Civic Engagement and Civic Learning (CECIL)
  • Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
  • Office of Research Integrity and Assurance (ORIA)
  • Office of Research and Innovation Initiatives
  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Department of Sociology and Anthropology
  • College of Education and Human Development
  • Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment (CCEE)