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Who We Are


The Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora is a university chair in the Faculty of Education which aims to advance access, equity and inclusivity to education through community engagement and collaborative action. 

First launched in 2008, the chair holder initiates, facilitates, directs and engages in research, educational programs, and community partnerships which are culturally responsive and relevant to the educational and social needs, interests and aspirations of Black and other racialized community members – both those inside and outside of the university for whom marginalization and racialization act as barriers to the achievement of their educational and career ambitions. 

Our Mission is to research and knowledge mobilization endeavours on Black and African-descended communities, the chair seeks to: 

  • Foster an understanding of the diverse cultural and educational needs of students. 
  • Facilitate leadership on matters of access, equity, inclusivity and social justice;
  • Strengthen university-community partnerships and engagement; and, 
  • Build educational and social capacity among students, junior scholars and community members. 

Our vision is to provide educational and occupational access and equity for marginalized youth; the implications of suburban “urbanization” for young people; the complementary and contradictory nature of sports in the schooling and educational attainments of racialized students; community-centered approaches to learning, identification/identity pertaining to race, ethnicity, gender, class, and immigrant status.

The Current Chair

Carl E. James holds the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora in the Faculty of Education at York University where he is also the Equity Advisor to the Dean; and for 3 years before, he was the Senior Advisor on Equity and Representation in the Office of the Vice President of Equity, People & Culture. In addition to teaching in the Faculty of Education, Carl holds cross-appointments in the Graduate Programs in Sociology, Social and Political Thought, and Social Work. He has served as Affirmative Action, Equity & Inclusivity Officer (2006-2020); was the founding Director of the York Centre on Education & Community (2008-2016), and Director of the Graduate Program in Sociology (2007-2008). A Distinguished Research Professor, James is known for his mentorship of students and colleagues...

A former youth and community worker, Carl holds a PhD in Sociology and is widely recognized nationally and internationally for his research contributions in the areas of race, racialization, racism, and inequity as they affect the educational, social, athletic, occupational and health experiences of Black community members. Building on this premise, his work explores the ways in which accessible and equitable opportunities in education and employment account for the lived experiences of racialized – particularly Black – community members; the limits to the Canada’s multiculturalism and its promise of equity; the complementary and contradictory nature of sports in the schooling and educational attainments of Black youth; and the health situation and related access to healthcare of Black community members. In advocating for systemic changes in schooling and education, Carl brings attention to the difficulties, obstacles, and barriers that stifle the interests, expectations, ambitions, and dreams of Black youth at all levels of the education system in Canada. He has also researched and written on the experiences of Caribbean peoples in Canada, as well as on the education and inter-island migration patterns and experiences of people in the Caribbean.

As the Jean Augustine Chair, James works on programs which serve to support the journeying and transition experiences of Black students from their early schooling years through to graduation from high school and postsecondary institutions. One such program is Securing Black Futures in which, with RBC funding, he collaborates with colleagues from McMaster University, Dalhousie University, University of Calgary, University of British Columbia, Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) and University of Ottawa to enhance the university experiences of Black students; and in the case of elementary, middle and high school students, partner with schools and community organizations on initiatives geared towards high school graduation and the possibilities of obtaining postsecondary education. A particular area of interest is increasing Black youth’s interest in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM).

With funding from agencies such as the Humanities and Social Science Federation of Canada (SSHRC), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT), Carl has conducted a significant number of research – most recent are: a) The transfer experiences of Black students from university to college and from college to university; b) Key factors shaping students’ elementary, secondary and post-secondary pathways; and c) The expediency and benefits when Ontario courts consider experiences of Black youth in their sentencing. And partnering with medical practitioners, he is studying a) African Canadians’ responses to COVID-19 vaccine; b) Ensuring the good health of African Canadians: Medical knowledge, regenerative medicine, and trusting relationships with clinical workers. Also, with funding from Walmart Foundation(USA), Carl is studying the ways in which social capital operates in making possible occupational, social and economic mobility of racialized Canadians.

Carl has held several Visiting Lecturer positions in universities across Canada, the United States of America, Australia, and Sweden, where from 1997-2013, he taught a course annually on multiculturalism in the Teacher Training Department, Uppsala University.

For his outstanding leadership and influential contributions to scholarship, he has received many awards – including Distinguished Honours (2022); York University; Dean’s Research Impact Award (2021); Faculty of Education, York University; President’s Research Impact Award (2021), York University; Outstanding Contribution Award (2020), Canadian Sociological Association (CSA); Graduate Faculty Teaching Award (2017), York University; and Winning Research (2005), Social Science & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Other top awards include: Killam Prize in the Social Sciences 2022, Canada Council for the Arts; Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2012); and Honorary Doctorate (2006), Uppsala University, Sweden.

And among the awards he has received for his community involvement:Outstanding Service to Canadian Black Scientists (2023), Canadian Black Scientists Network;  Marcus Garvey Memorial Award of Excellence (2019) from AfroGlobal Television; The Mary Matilda Winslow Award (2018) from Ontario Black History Society; Harry Jerome Professional Excellence Award (2013) from Black Business & Professional Association; William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations (2008) from City of Toronto; New Pioneer Award (2006) from Skills for Change.

Among Carl’s publications are his seminal text, Seeing Ourselves: Exploring Race, Ethnicity and Identity (4th Edition 2010);. Life at the Intersection: Community, Class and Schooling (2012) – on the Jane and Finch community in Toronto; Colour Matters: Essays on the Experiences, Education, and Pursuits of Black Youth (2021) – a retrospective collection of works from the 1990s to the 2022; First-Generation Student Experiences in Higher Education: Counterstories (2023) – authored with L.E. Taylor – a longitudinal study of the experiences of students in a transitional university program. Other publications include: The Equity Myth: Racialization and Indigeneity at Canadian Universities – authored with F. Henry, E. Dua, A. Kobayashi, P. Li, H. Ramos, M.S. Smith (2017); Jamaica in the Canadian Experience: A Multiculturalizing Presence – co-authored with Andrea Davis (2012); and Race in Play: The Socio-Cultural Worlds of Student Athletes (2005). One of Carl’s most influential and frequently referenced works on issues of inequities in schooling and education in Ontario is: Towards Race Equity in Education: The Schooling of Black students in the GTA co-authored with Tana Turner (2017). The report and its recommendations have served to influence and/or inform changes in streaming in Ontario, and other programs and practices of the Ministry of Education, school boards, school administrators, teachers, as well as to Black community organizations and other stakeholders.

Carl worked with a number of community organizations and government groups – in some cases as a volunteer. He has been one of six advisors to the Ontario Minister of Education and Premier (2017-18), a member of the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Education Advisory Committee (2017-present), the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Mental Health of Black Canadians Working Group (2019-2023); and internationally, Chair of the International Committee and a member of the National Advisory Council of the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE) in Higher Education at the University of Oklahoma, USA.   

In sum, Carl is one of Canada’s leading scholars in the areas of equity in education, Black youth studies, and critical studies in race and ethnic relations. In his research, he uses an interdisciplinary lens to probe previously unexamined issues in the ways in which race intersecting with ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality and generation of citizenship shape identity, as well as accessible and equitable opportunities and possibilities in education and employment – insisting on the need to account for the lived experiences of marginalized and racialized community members, and Black people in particular. His scholarly contributions and community engagement have influenced policies and practices in governments, universities, school boards, and communities across Canada and beyond.

Carl E. James

Fundraising for the Jean Augustine Chair in Education continues, and we welcome your support! Donate here. Thank you for your consideration.

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