Worldwide University Network Grant for College of Ed Faculty


Congratulations to four UMass, Amherst faculty, Chrystal George Mwangi (principal investigator), Sangeeta Kamat, Jonique Childs and Enobong Branch, who were recently awarded a grant through Worldwide University Network (WUN) to conduct an international study on “Researching Diversity, Inclusion and Student Success: Towards a Global Campus Climate.”


This year-long study will establish a network of academic collaborators from the U.S., the U.K, India, Ghana, South Africa, and Ireland to engage in comparative research on inclusion, equity, and diversity in higher education, as well as to develop relevant conceptual models and approaches to study problems of inclusion, equity, and student success in diverse country contexts.


Using the Multi-Contextual Model for Diverse Learning Environments (DLE) as a lens through which to examine campus climate theory and frameworks, the collaborators will adapt and refine the DLE for relevance across diverse contexts as well as suggest other frameworks.


Currently, a global and comparative analysis of campus climate and diverse student success is not found within extant literature and thus, the network created through this project is novel. The RDF grant will afford the unique opportunity to develop a global network of scholars who will come together to learn, research, and share knowledge on how to promote student success and inclusion around the world.


Further, on the significance of their study, George Mwangi said,


As universities expand access to Higher Education (HE) within their respective countries, there is a growing need for effective strategies that create equitable and inclusive educational environments as well as promote the success of students from underrepresented and minoritized backgrounds. The U.S., Ghana, India, England, Ireland, and South Africa each have a national policy or agenda to improve educational equity and college going for diverse students as defined in their country (e.g., race, caste, social class, gender, ethnic group, nativity, language, religion). The rapid expansion of HE globally and increased pressure on institutions to serve diverse student populations has placed HE inclusion and equity at the forefront. Research on this issue is scattered, uneven and in many countries at a nascent stage. The RDF grant will support the development of a multi-country scholar network to advance research on student diversity and success in HE by establishing a shared set of concepts, theories and methodologies that is informed by a comparative approach. The development of a common global campus climate framework will yield a multiplier effect and bring coherence to research and policy analysis of equity and inclusion issues in HE globally.


This study builds on the strong track-record of scholarship and previous work done by this interdisciplinary team, which includes faculty from education, development economics, sociology and political science. George Mwangi studies structures of opportunity and inequities that impact the trajectory of diverse students within U.S. universities. Collaborators’ scholarship on their country’s higher education system include a focus on gender inequities (Anyidoho and Branch), university teaching standards (Behari-Leak), internationalization of higher education (Clarke), equity in higher education policy (Kamat), and underrepresented student populations (Gopani’s resarch on Dalit caste students; Child’s research on the psychosocial experiences related to mental well-being and career development of first generation college students of color attending predominantly White institutions; Kikabhai’s research on students with disabilities and black and minority ethnic students). Collaborators also engage international/cross-cultural scholarship, which bridges our local and global lenses to come together as a network.