Abstract for: Exploring the Application of Community Based System Dynamics to Structural Racism in Universities

The term structural racism emerged to describe a system in which policies, practices, norms and other factors perpetuate racial inequality. This concept created a shift to move the paradigm of racism from racist intent in individuals to an interdependent and multilevel analysis of the emergent properties of racism as a system. However, many universities continue to take a reductionist approach to race and thus apply policies that only address the symptoms. Scholars have called for universities to approach racism by understanding the sources of behavior endogenous to their own interconnected domains of cultural representation, student behavior, regulatory practices, etc. We posit that using a community based system dynamics (CBSD) approach is a promising method for understanding structural racism in universities. In this work in progress, we present our approach to using CBSD to explore structural racism in a university setting. Our progress includes problem scoping and designing three group model building sessions with different stakeholder groups. The goal of this work is to seed community capabilities in SD, gain initial understanding of stakeholders’ mental models of racism to inform the model insights we’d like to work toward and to gain process insights into the potential utility of a CBSD approach.