New director of Kirwan Institute introduces his vision at Ohio State
For an hour last week, the incoming executive director of The Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity answered questions about his philosophy and the direction in which he wants to take the institute.
Darrick Hamilton will join the Kirwan Institute on the first day of the new year. Hamilton is currently a professor of economics and urban policy at the New School in New York whose work focuses on the causes, consequences and remedies of racial and ethnic inequality in economic and health outcomes.
“We will lead with research. And this work does have reach well beyond the academy. Our scholarship should matter to people, not oppress them,” Hamilton said to a full room at the institute’s offices on Thursday.
Hamilton’s presentation coincided with the Kirwan Institute’s celebration of its 15th anniversary. The institute was founded on the idea of using research and engagement to help create a more equal and inclusive society.
Really centering Kirwan as a hub for the university excites me a great deal and I’ve only gotten positive feedback with that framing and a desire and a commitment to help join in our mission.
Hamilton answered questions on topics that ranged from the value of universal basic income to inequality in the criminal justice system. An economist by training, Hamilton pointed out that there is a bias to look for market solutions to solve many of society’s problems – but that those solutions often lack a moral dimension. He said Kirwan Institute research would include a moral foundation.
He said his goal is for the Kirwan Institute to serve as a hub of research activity that will be turned into action.
“Really centering Kirwan as a hub for the university excites me a great deal and I’ve only gotten positive feedback with that framing and a desire and a commitment to help join in our mission,” he said after his presentation. “The other thing that I want to single out also is that senior administration during this process has demonstrated a clear commitment to these goals and ideas and made me feel very welcome in coming in and leading.”
Hamilton said the role of the institute in the city of Columbus is critical. Lessons learned and applied to problems in Columbus could be used to help communities around the world.
“I think we want to be grounded with Columbus,” he said. “I think from a scientific research point we need to see how well approaches in Columbus relate and differ compared to other approaches so that they can be mutual learning – but a grounding in Columbus is important.”