POLITICS

Professor awarded taxpayer-funded grant to research 'microaggressions'

The National Science Foundation awarded over $200,000 in taxpayer dollars to a professor who plans to research microaggressions. 

First reported by The Daily Caller, Mary Atwater, a professor of science and mathematics education at the University of Georgia, received $229,061 to study the implications of microaggressions and look at minority participation in science and math, according to a statement from the University of Georgia.

“There has been little research in this area in science education,” said Atwater, also the Sachs Distinguished Lecturer in residence at Teacher’s College of Columbia University. “In fact, there is very little microaggression research that has been done in which the participants are people of European-American descent.” 

"Microaggression," a common term on college campuses, refers to actions or comments that subtly -- and often unintentionally -- show a bias toward a minority or other "marginalized" group. The term also is a big part of the national debate over whether free speech on college campuses is being stifled in the interest of sensitivity. 

During a commencement address Sunday at Notre Dame, Vice President Pence warned that free speech is indeed waning on college campuses. A number of students walked out during the speech. 

In her study, Atwater plans to use the “Early-Concept Grant for Exploratory Research” to examine new ways of broadening “participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM fields for science education faculty of African or Latino ancestry,” according to UGA.

“This grant can have an impact on the number of African-American and Latino/a faculty members we have in science education,” Atwater said. 

Atwater plans to study “microaggressors”—or those who carry out acts of microaggresion— across science education programs at seven different universities. According to the UGA statement, Atwater will recruit graduate students from Columbia University and UGA to create the study, which will use “critical race theory,” attitude exams, and interviews.