Patricia Gurin receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Photo of: Phillip Bowman, Patricia Gurin, Linda Chatters, and Robert Joseph Taylor

February 5, 2024  |  By Tevah Platt, Research Center for Group Dynamics

ANN ARBOR—Patricia Gurin, a professor emerita of psychology and women’s study who was a pioneer in intergroup dialogue, received a Lifetime Achievement Award on Wednesday from the Program for Research on Black Americans (PRBA).

Gurin is the Nancy Cantor Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies, the former chair of psychology and a former interim dean of LSA.

The award recognized Gurin for her contributions to PRBA, said PRBA Director Robert Joseph Taylor. In particular, she and her late husband Gerald (Jerry) Gurin were instrumental in the early development of the PRBA. In interviews, the late PRBA founder James Jackson had said insightful conversations with the Gurins shaped his vision for the program, and social events they hosted led to more trusting relationships among PRBA faculty, students, and staff.

“Pat Gurin has made invaluable and continuing contributions to scores of students over the years through her teaching and research and her work with The Program on Intergroup Relations (IGR),” said Linda Chatters, a PRBA affiliate and professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health and in the School of Social Work. “I feel privileged to have been one of several doctoral students who benefited from Pat’s contributions to the Program for Research on Black Americans. I learned from her the importance of using our skills, training, and positions to pursue knowledge for the purpose of advancing the public good.

Gurin’s research laid the foundation for the intergroup dialogue teaching method, which has been widely adopted in college settings to break down silos in classrooms and society, prompting diverse classrooms to engage and interact in a structured setting. The method guides students of different races, genders or other social identity characteristics to learn from each other, using experiential pedagogy to analyze and understand social conflict, intergroup relations and issues of diversity and justice. At the University of Michigan, intergroup dialogue began in a single course offering and grew into an academic program and undergraduate minor.

Gurin’s scholarship often sought answers about how underprivileged groups in society manage to create social change, work with other groups, and achieve greater equity.

Gurin found that change is always effected through relationships. She told the Ann Arbor News in 2011: “What the one person can do is analyze, organize, persist, and encourage others.”

She also has served as the University’s expert witness on the educational value of racial/ethnic diversity in its defense of its admission policies in affirmative action lawsuits that have gone to the Supreme Court.

Gurin currently serves as the research director of The Program on Intergroup Relations.

She received the James S. Jackson Distinguished Career Award for Diversity Scholarship in 2019.

The PRBA presented a round of awards at its reunion event held in December. Lifetime achievement awards also went to Lisa Barnes, Cleopatra Caldwell, Waldo Johnson, Jacqueline Mattis, Vickie M. Mays, Harold (Woody) Neighbors, and David Williams. Gurin’s award was presented on Jan. 31 by Phillip Bowman, Linda Chatters, and Robert Joseph Taylor.

The PRBA is a leader in creating new and innovative qualitative and quantitative research methods to understand the lives of African American and African descendant communities. It is housed within the Research Center for Group Dynamics at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

Originally published by the Research Center for Group Dynamics.


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