Associate Professor Najib Hourani awarded Creating Inclusive Excellence Grant

Department of Anthropology Associate Professor Najib Hourani, along with fellow PI Dr. Rebecca Karam (Sociology) received the 2023-24 Creating Inclusive Excellence Grant from the Michigan State University Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. The project, entitled “Counting MENA In,” also received funding from MSU’s Department of Anthropology, Department of Sociology, Muslim Studies Program, and the Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities Program. The project’s research team also includes Dr. Salah Hassan (English) and Dr. Stephen Gasteyer ( Sociology).

This project explores MENA (Middle East and North African) communities and their experiences at MSU in their different roles as students, faculty, and employees. The United States government has recently added a MENA category to the new race and ethnicity question on the 2030 census form. Michigan is home to some of the largest, oldest, and most vibrant MENA communities in the nation and these communities have long-standing ties to MSU.

The study relies upon a large-scale survey, paired with focus groups with students, faculty and staff to collect basic demographic data on these groups, and to understand their place, roles and experiences on campus. “It took a bit of doing with the new Survey Committee,” Hourani said, “but we received permission in April to run the survey in the Fall 2024 semester. We are looking forward to the results, and to the opportunity to share them with the MENA communities and the University at large.”

Particular attention will be paid to MENA faculty students and staff understandings of their own identities (identification) and to their experience of having identities ascribed to them (ethnic or racial prejudices). To what extent do these communities feel welcome on campus, or experience exclusion based upon their actual or ascribed identities? How do these experiences manifest in different campus spaces, such as classrooms, dormitories, dining halls, administrative offices, or faculty meetings? How might an understanding of these experiences help the University develop a nuanced awareness of the contributions these communities make to MSU and develop effective strategies to help them overcome challenges they face, and improve their standing in terms of inclusion and equity?

For more information on the grant, see this link.