University of Pittsburgh
December 11, 2002

University of Pittsburgh Announces New Center on Race and Social Problems With a multiracial focus, center is only one of its kind in a school of social work


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

"…best social science knowledge to guide interventions

to solve those problems."

December 12, 2002

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh's School of Social Work has established a new Center on Race and Social Problems (CRSP) to conduct social science research on race and its influence on the quality of life for Americans in the 21st century. Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg and School of Social Work Dean Larry Davis announced CRSP's creation this morning at a news conference in the University's William Pitt Union.

Using faculty and researchers from throughout the University and from other institutions of higher learning, the center will focus on problems in society that deal with race and how race influences five key areas: interracial group relations; economic and educational disparities; mental health practices; youth, families, and the elderly; and criminal justice.

Unlike other centers of its type, CRSP will look at multiracial issues rather than concentrating solely on African Americans. It will be the only center of its kind located in a school of social work and will explicitly target race rather than some more diffuse concern with "minorities" and "diversity."

People of color make up approximately 30 percent of the nation's population, with that percentage expected to climb to nearly 50 percent by the year 2050.

"With full awareness of the ways the demographics of our nation are changing, the University of Pittsburgh's new Center on Race and Social Problems will help to shape and enhance our understanding of race in America on the national, state, and local level," says Chancellor Nordenberg. "The center's emphasis upon much-needed scholarly research into the issue of race is just one more demonstration of the University's ever-growing research expertise in many disciplines. I am very pleased that we will be deploying that expertise in a committed search for both the questions and the answers to successfully grapple with key race issues for the benefit of future generations."

"We view Pittsburgh as a good laboratory to address problems that have national significance," says Davis, who also is the Donald M. Henderson Professor in the School of Social Work and the center's director.

The center will devote itself to three key activities.

• Research: The center will be the only one of its kind in this region to fund and develop race-related research projects for faculty. Four pilot projects have already been developed and funded, among them studies on African American adolescents and mental health, and on chronic stress in African American and white women.

• Service: The center will serve local and national communities by providing data and technical assistance. Leading scholars in race relations will be invited to present papers and engage in dialogues with pertinent members of the Pittsburgh community.

• Education: CRSP will train, educate, and mentor graduate students and emerging scholars from all disciplines throughout the University.

An upcoming series of lectures will have as its theme race-related social problems. Janet Schofield, Pitt professor of psychology, will give a lecture Jan. 14 on the impact of school structure on race relations, and Ronnie Bryant, president and chief operating officer of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, will deliver a Jan. 29 address on the social implications of urban revitalization. Seminars and additional lectures will be announced.

Researchers will study current problems and their solutions rather than historical ones, and they will tackle tough race-related issues that have not been adequately understood or addressed. "We will look for solutions to problems, but compassion is not enough," says Davis. "We will provide the best social science knowledge to guide interventions to solve those problems."