by Alberto Jacinto
PhD Student, School of Public Administration, American University
My participation in the Equity and Inclusion (E&I) Fellowship at the 2019 APPAM Fall Research Conference was easily one of the highlights during my time at the Conference.The Fellowship programming filled in a couple knowledge gaps and challenged me to think deeply about equity and my research. Outside of the Fellowship experience, the conference exposed me to a bunch of innovative work by people in the field.
I must first start by acknowledging Leslie Ofori’s hard work and dedication to the Fellowship program in the days leading up to the conference. Her coordination and management played an integral role in the program’s success. I was matched with Professor Kevin Gee who studies education policy at UC Davis. This proved to be a great match considering our backgrounds and interests. This one-on-one time with a scholar in the field helped demystify the job market process, and gave me a better understanding of what life as an academic is like. In addition to being matched with a mentor, we had the opportunity to meet and talk with former APPAM President Carolyn Heinrich, who provided insight into leadership and scholarship within the realm of public policy. An added bonus to participating in the Fellowship was connecting with people from social media at the conference.
Having said that, the E&I Fellowship was more than just an opportunity to network with other scholars and students in the field. Dr. N. Mosby Tyler’s luncheon keynote speech included several educational takeaways for all audiences. The first point was to pay greater attention to the somatic sensations that arise when we are triggered. By doing so, we become better at mastering our reactions to situations that make us uncomfortable. The second point was that power dynamics are ubiquitous and rooted in the five bases of social power. They are: legitimate, expert, referent, reward, and coercive forms of power. In certain power dynamics, the task is to find power where we are experts and leverage it for good. Finally, Dr. Mosby Tyler had us take a critical look at our own work and how it relates to equity. We discussed how equality is different from equity and where our work fits into this equation. These bits of wisdom and knowledge are what remain with me.
All in all, the E&I Fellowship was such a rewarding experience. I left with a better understanding of academia and equity in research, as well as new friendships and connections. I’m starting to feel part of the education community at APPAM and I look forward to seeing familiar faces each year.