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By conducting nationally recognized research, the Institute on Race and Justice examines questions on race and justice facing urban communities and provides leadership on social justice issues. The IRJ is made up of a research branch (the Violence and Justice Research Lab) and a community engagement branch. These branches allow the IRJ to structure its research using an innovative community-based participatory research model.


The mission of the Institute on Race and Justice (IRJ) is to utilize strategic social science research methodologies to assist government agencies, educational institutions, and community stakeholders in the development of policy changes to advance the cause of social justice. The Institute was founded on the premise that academic institutions can work with communities to provide rigorous and objective information that can be used to influence policy changes that advance the cause of social justice. This research model attempts to enhance scientific inquiries with the input and experiences of community stakeholders who struggle with issues of racial injustice. The coupling of community practitioners and social scientists allows practitioners access to academic input while providing academics with more current and salient ideas about and data on issues in the field.

Affiliated Schools & Departments

The IRJ comprises experts from the following Schools and Departments at Northeastern University: 

Bouvé College of Health Sciences

College of Social Sciences and Humanities

Department of Cultures, Societies and Global Studies

Department of Sociology and Anthropology

School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

School of Law

Innovative Research Model

This innovative research model is a research and advocacy partnership, which identifies community practitioners as authentic partners throughout the entire research process, including the expertise of community practitioners into the methodology design process, the data collection and analysis process, and ultimately in determining what the products of the research are and how they are to be used.

This model recognizes the legacy of academic researchers who have historically asked for community participation (i.e. time and energy), but haven’t given much back to these communities often not even sharing the results of their work. As a result, communities have become rightfully suspicious of academics “coming in” to communities to “do research on them,” The IRJ model works from another set of starting points and presumptions:

  1. The goal of the research is to help communities achieve their own goals. This cannot be accomplished without the active, dynamic and two-way partnership between community members and researchers. In a participatory research model, both academics and community residents are “experts” with different areas of expertise.
  2. The results of work conducted using this model are qualitatively different than research reports conducted using traditional researcher-subject methods. Our products are much more likely to be put to immediate use by public officials, and they are informed by community practitioners’ real contributions not only of data but of ideas related to framing questions and analysis.

Statement on Racial Justice

Full Statement from IRJ