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Research & Initiatives

Across Campus, Our Faculty's Research Advances Social Justice

William & Mary's faculty are leaders in their fields, conducting research that explores previously-unknown aspects of our history, exposes current inequalities, and charts better paths forward. Learn more about some of their projects here. 

Center's Initiatives
Cataloging Prosecutorial Misconduct 

60 years ago, the Supreme Court forbade police and prosecutors from concealing evidence favorable to defendants. However, there are still many cases in the United States each year in which prosecutors fail to turn over important evidence. Some cases involve scientific evidence such as blood testing. Other cases involve dishonest police officers or key witnesses with a history of lying. In conjunction with Duke Law School Wilson Center for Science and Justice, the Center is building a database of cases involving law enforcement and prosecutorial misconduct  from across the country.  The database will be a resource for criminal defense lawyers, civil rights litigators, and scholars who are working to ensure a fair and equitable criminal justice system.

Led by Professor Adam Gershowitz, William & Mary Law students Madeline Williams '22 and Jason Drake '21 have begun working on the project.

Certificate of Diversity & Inclusion
The Center for Racial and Social Justice is partnering with the Corley Institute For Diversity & Inclusion Education at George Mason’s Law School to offer our law students a Diversity & Inclusion Certificate Program. In this 8-week program, students will learn about the social and economic benefits derived from D&I and the fundamentals of D&I initiatives in professional settings. Furthermore, the program will provide students with the tools to further D&I efforts in the workplace and methods for building and retaining a diverse workforce. 
The Centennial Commemoration of Asian & Asian Americans at William & Mary

The Asian/Pacific Islander/Middle Eastern/Muslim Research Project (The APM Research Project) will commemorate the centennial admission of Asian students at William & Mary in 2021. The APM Research Project will organize events to celebrate and commemorate this historic milestone while cultivating research projects on APM communities at W&M.

The APM Research Project will look specifically into the legal scaffolding in place for Asian and Asian American populations in terms of immigration and admission or enrollment in Universities, particularly William & Mary. Additionally, the project will look into the historic internal policies of the College of William & Mary to see how this legal scaffolding may have impacted the presence of Asian and American students in terms of scholarship and housing.

The Center for Racial & Social Justice will sponsor a law student research fellow to research the history of laws targeting Asians and Asian-Americans in Virginia. The project is supervised by Professor Vivian Hamilton and Professor Deenesh Sohoni. This research will provide support and scaffolding to students conducting archival research into the history of Asians and Asian Americans at W&M, supervised by Professor Francis Aguas.

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The Asian Centennial and APM Research Project Research Fellow 

Yusuf Jafri is currently a second-year law student at William & Mary Law School. At William & Mary, he has demonstrated an interest in international law through officer positions in two international law focused groups. He has continued this interest through his work with the Center for Racial & Social Justice and participation in research for the upcoming Asian Centennial and APM Research Project. Yusuf is also involved in the local community, working with Hampton Roads Refugee Relief to assist refugee communities in the Hampton Roads area, as well as tutoring refugee students in Montgomery County over the course of his undergraduate studies. Yusuf graduated cum laudewith a double Major in Political Science and Philosophy from Virginia Tech in the spring of 2019.

Speaker’s Series 

The Center continuously hosts and co-sponsors speakers and panelists who speak about race, social justice, and health & reproductive issues in the United States.  

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In its inaugural event, Racial Disparities in the Time of COVID-19the Center hosted Professor Iyabo Obasanjo, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology & Health Sciences. Professor Obasanjo spoke about the causes of the COVID-19 health disparities that people of color faced during the pandemic.


These are a few of the events and speakers the Center has hosted in the past year.

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Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Trivialization of Motherhood 

Professor Michele Goodwin spoke about reproductive rights and discusses how laws criminalize women - especially poor women and women of color - for miscarriages, stillbirths and threatening the health of their pregnancies.  

Menstrual Justice with Professor Margaret Johnson image.jpeg

Professor Margaret Johnson discussed the wide range of menstrual injustices and her frame of menstrual justice - what it means and how it requires an intersectional analysis.  

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Insurrection at the Capitol 

William & Mary Law Professors Adam Gershowitz, Vivian Hamilton, and Alli Larsen spoke about the constitutional, criminal, and racial justice aspects of the Insurrection at Capitol Hill. 

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LGBTQ+ Rights and Fighting Discrimination with Shannon Minter from NCLR

Shannon Minter, the Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), spoke about current issues and cases relating to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. 

Initiatives Across W&M 
The Lemon Project

Named for Lemon, one of the many Black persons once enslaved by William & Mary, the Lemon Project researches the 300-year relationship of Black people and William & Mary. Led by Professor Jody Allen, the Project's broader aim is to rectify wrongs perpetrated against African Americans by William & Mary through action or inaction.

The American Indian Resource Center

The original mandate for the establishment of William & Mary provided for the education of American Indians. To this end, the Brafferton Indian School was founded in 1691; the Brafferton building still stands today, housing the offices of the President and Provost. Led by Professor Danielle Moretti-Langholtz, the American Indian Resource Center seeks to strengthen William & Mary's relationship with Native communities, and it serves scholars, students, and members of the public interested in American Indian culture and history.

Social Justice Policy Initiative

This newly-established initiative pairs students with faculty members and external partners such as community organizations or policymakers to research pressing social issues, support community programming, and advocate for needed policy change. The Social Justice Policy Initiative is interdisciplinary and involves faculty from across the university. Initial projects address affordable housing, educational equity, eviction crisis, racial and partisan gerrymandering, food justice and local black histories.

Faculty Research Projects
Jody Allen

Allen, Jody
Assistant Professor of History and Director, The Lemon Project
Project: Studying Black agency from the Civil War through the Civil Rights Movement

Jamel Donnor

Donnor, Jamel
Associate Professor, School of Education
Project: Examining race and opportunity in education

Adam Gershowitz

Gershowitz, Adam
R. Hugh and Nolie Haynes Professor of Law
Project: Prosecutorial misconduct

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Gosin, Monika
Associate Professor, Sociology
Project: Comparative Race Relations

Vivian Hamilton

Hamilton, Vivian
Professor of Law and Director, Center for Racial & Social Justice
Project: Adolescents' Civil Rights

Natoya Haskins

Haskins, Natoya
Associate Professor, School of Education
Project: Equity in Counselor Education Training Programs

Paul Marcus

Marcus, Paul
Haynes Professor of Law
Project: Assessing the fairness of processes for those accused of crimes

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Meyer, Leisa
Professor of History, Director of American Studies
Project: History and Gender studies

Iyabo Obasanjo

Obasanjo, Iyabo
Assistant Professor, Kinesiology & Health Sciences
Project: Governance, leadership and public health

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Rosen, Hannah
Associate Professor of History and American Studies
Project: Race and Gender in African American History

Tanglao Aguas, Francis
Professor of Theatre and Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies
Project: Theatre and Cultural Studies