DECOLONIZING RESEARCHInterviews & Observations of Kheprw Institute’s Community & Organizational Culture

Full Research Description

The Urban Education Studies (UES) doctoral program is located in the School of Education at Indiana University – Indianapolis (IUPUI).  This doctoral program is unique in that there are only a few doctoral programs focused on urban education studies; that it is a strongly critical-oriented program with a particularly sharp focus on anti-racism; that it is committed to deep community engagement; that it is a Ph.D. cohort program; that the courses are taught at night to accommodate working professionals; and that the students are 60% or more students of color, mainly Black, who have largely grown up in Indianapolis.

In the spring of their second year, each cohort takes a course that is built around a community-focused research project.  For the spring of 2018, Cohort 5 and the instructor, Dr. Jim Scheurich, worked with the Kheprw Institute (KI) to define research that the students would undertake from start to finish within the 2018 spring semester.  In conversations of the students with KI leadership, it was decided that the students would study KI itself.

To accomplish this, the students did two interviews in teams of two students with seven members of the KI leadership.  The students also observed one of the weekly KI staff meetings (typically 2-4 hours in length) and one public event sponsored by KI.  For the interviews, one person asked the questions and the other took notes on a laptop. For the meeting and event observations, the students took field notes on their laptops.  In addition, there were periodic meetings between the student cohort and the KI leadership to discuss the research. For these meetings, one of the students took notes on a laptop.

At the same time, the students were reading several books and one chapter focused primarily on decolonizing research.  The books read were Patel’s Decolonizing educational research: From ownership to answerability, Tuhiwai Smith’s Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous people (2nd ed.), Freire’s Pedagogy of the oppressed, Fanon’s Wretched of the earth, Boggs’ The next American revolution: Sustainable activism for the 21st Century, and Scheurich’s “Research for revolutionaries by #JimScheurich,” to be published in N. Denzin & M. Giardina (Eds.), Qualitative Inquiry in the Public Sphere (will release fall, 2018).  Furthermore, the students and the instructor constantly discussed how to decolonize this research project.

In discussions among KI leadership, the doctoral students, and the instructor, it was decided to have the “results” be a webpage that would be located on KI’s website.  This webpage would include video testimony of some of the students about their experience of doing research on KI, written statements from other students on their experience of doing research on KI, and a list of the key characteristics of KI as identified by the students.  

--Jim Scheurich, Instructor, Spring, 2018