Gretchen Lopez Honored with Racial Justice Award
Gretchen Lopez, assistant professor of Cultural Foundations of Education at Syracuse University’s School of Education, is the recipient of the 2013 Racial Justice Award given by InterFaith Works/Community Wide Dialogue to End Racism (IFW/CWD) of Central New York. She will be honored, along with one other recipient, at a reception, awards ceremony and theater event on Jan. 29 at Syracuse Stage.
IFW/CWD presents the Racial Justice Award annually to individuals in the CNY community who are committed to the principles of racial equity, have worked extensively on the issue of ending racism and whose efforts have produced change in racial injustice.
In nearly a decade at Syracuse University, Lopez has demonstrated her commitment to identifying and addressing racial inequity in education. Her expertise and passion is evident in her scholarship, teaching and community engagement.
Douglas Biklen, dean of the School of Education says, “One of the most valuable gifts a university can provide its students is the ability to be comfortable with difference, whether about race, disability/ability, gender, sexual preference, social class or national origin, and to foster appreciation between individuals and groups. Dr. Lopez’s work on this front is groundbreaking.”
Lopez is director of Intergroup Dialogue at Syracuse University, a program based on a multidisciplinary curriculum she initiated in 2004. Intergroup Dialogue offers undergraduate and graduate courses organized around social analysis and action projects engaging issues of race and ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, class and faith. The program recently received the Foundation Award for Outstanding Campus Department from the LGBT Resource Center at SU.
Previously, Lopez was a co-recipient of an Exemplary Achievement Award for Team (Multicultural Living Learning Center) at SU. She was an early member of the CARE (Conversations about Race and Ethnicity in the Residence Halls) planning committee—a partnership bridging Multicultural Affairs and Residence Life at SU with Community Wide Dialogue (CWD). She continues to serve as an evaluation consultant for CARE.
In 2012, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the UCLA Civil Rights Project included Lopez’s published work in their briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court. These briefs provide research evidence in support of affirmative action in higher education for the current case Fisher v. University of Texas.
Lopez has recently co-edited two special issues of academic journals focused on persisting educational challenges: “50 years after Brown v. Board of Education: The promise and challenge of multicultural education” for the Journal of Social Issues (2004); and “Intergroup dialogue: Engaging difference, social identities, and social justice” for Equity and Excellence in Education (2012). This work addresses how educators might apply knowledge and experience from higher education contexts to high school educational settings, themes consistent in Lopez’s research. Local high school students, participating in dialogue-based initiatives Lopez has organized, report developing an increased awareness of inequalities, an emerging sense of agency and a strong desire for further education and action.