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George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government will launch its new Race, Politics, and Policy Center in Fall 2021 under the leadership of Professor Michael Fauntroy. Fauntroy, who taught at Mason for 11 years before joining the faculty at Howard University in 2013, returned to Mason in June.
“If you look at what’s going on around the country at colleges and universities, there’s not a lot of energy and attention being put to these issues,” Fauntroy said. “The goal of the center is to help change that and put together research and events that can better inform students, influencers and the public at large.”
It will also contribute to a national conversation.
“This is an opportunity to engage the academic community and the broader public in critical discussions on issues of race, politics and policy,” said Schar School Dean Mark J. Rozell. “If we are to be responsible publicly engaged intellectuals, we have to take on these difficult issues head on.”
Fauntroy said some of his plans for the center include raising funds to partner with media and conduct quarterly public opinion polls around issues of race and politics, which tend to be exampled during times of crisis but not consistently and systematically. He also plans to host public events, speaker and film series, and conferences, and to launch a podcast to amplify Mason’s expertise.
The opportunities will supplement what students learn in the classroom.
“These kinds of questions on race and politics are insufficiently addressed in political science and public policy,” Fauntroy said. “This is an opportunity to help position Mason students to have additional arrows in the quiver, if you will, in terms of their ability to analyze public policy in American politics.”
Rozell said Fauntroy’s passions and his return to Mason inspired the center.
“We have a chance to be thought leaders in this arena and doing so requires the right person to lead the effort,” Rozell said, adding that as an expert on Washington, D.C., politics, Fauntroy brings a regional expertise to the school. “Fauntroy comes with the academic credentials, as well as a public profile that will enable such a center to thrive over time.”
A regular on the media circuit, Fauntroy is an American politics analyst for CTV News Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio. He regularly appears on WUSA9, WRC 4, and FOX 5, and has written on the intersection of race and American politics for years. He is the author of “Republicans and the Black Vote and Home Rule or House Rule? Congress and the Erosion of Local Governance in the District of Columbia.” He has been published in numerous academic journals and newspapers around the country, most recently in the New York Daily News.
Prior to Mason, Fauntroy was also an analyst in American national government at the Congressional Research Service (CRS). There he provided research and consultations for Congress. From 1993 to 1996, he was a civil rights analyst at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, where he researched civil rights issues including voting rights and fair housing.
“I want Mason to be known, in part, as a place where you can go and study these issues in a deep and profound way,” Fauntroy said. “I want this center to provide value to the university and the larger community.”