Scholarship of Engagement Award

Dr. Benjamin Blaisdell

Dr. Benjamin Blaisdell (Contributed photo)

ECU’s Dr. Benjamin Blaisdell‘s research and outreach center on working collaboratively with school teachers and administrators to overcome racial inequity. This work centers the knowledge and expertise of people of color and their racially literate colleagues to create and foster purposefully antiracist schools and communities.

One of Blaisdell’s long-term areas of engagement has been with Northside Elementary School in Chapel Hill, where he works with the staff as an equity coach. The school opened in 2013 in a historically African American neighborhood, and Blaisdell has been a fixture in the school since the beginning. He works closely with teachers and administrators to set project goals, analyze data, and use the information to implement antiracist strategies. Teachers at the school say that Blaisdell’s work has been instrumental in their efforts to move beyond traditional practices to let the voices of students and staff of color be heard.

Blaisdell says his greatest desire is to continue to promote racial literacy and share what he learns through his research and time working with Northside with other schools and educators. He is a member of the College of Education’s Diversity Committee, was the keynote speaker for the ECU Office of Equity and Diversity’s 2017 Diversity Seminar, and has been invited to speak to several community and education-based groups. Blaisdell is also on the executive board of Critical Race Studies in Education Association.

Recently, he was invited to give the keynote address at Sheffield Hallam University in England at the launch of the university’s Race Staff Network. Dr. Manuel Madriaga of Sheffield Hallam University said that Blaisdell’s address was a refreshing voice to hear for their staff, students and partners working towards social justice in their institution and beyond. Additionally, he said that staff and students were encouraged to network with neighboring universities to support their antiracist work as a result of their experience with Blaisdell.