Let's get to know Davon!


We are very excited to have you join Organizational Studies! What brought you to U-M?

I was not actively looking for opportunities last year. I was very happy with where I was and what my trajectory looked like. However, that all went out the window when an opportunity to join the University of Michigan and Organizational Studies presented itself. There was no hesitation on my part because when it comes to the research that I do and the questions that get me excited, the University of Michigan stands alone. Across the campus there are social scientists at the forefront of theoretical and empirical work on credit, algorithms, and inequality that made Michigan a clear intellectual home. But also, I wanted to be a part of a public institution that had a degree of accountability and a feeling of responsibility to the public. In that way, my personal goals and values cohered nicely with the mission of the University, and I am pumped to integrate myself into Organizational Studies and the broader UM community.

What topics/courses are you most excited to teach?

My research focuses on understanding the ways that inequality—particularly racial inequality—manifests through financial channels like credit and debt and through calculative channels like algorithmic scores and ratings. I am amped to engage students with the state-of-the-art research in my areas of expertise. I will take a first step in this direction this upcoming Winter when I teach a course entitled “Credit, Debt, and the Financing of American (In)equality.” This will be the first time I teach this course, and the course uses credit and debt as a tool through which to understand the past and present of American Inequality. This course is designed to both be a substantive seminar while also pushing students to develop analytic capabilities for specifying problems, using data, and evaluating evidence. In the process, we will move beyond simply studying inequality and exclusion by further engaging students with the future to imagine alternative possibilities for our social and economic institutions that might foster greater inclusion and equality. 

What does being a LSA Collegiate Fellow mean to you and your research development?

The LSA Collegiate Fellowship is an extraordinary opportunity. There really are few comparable mechanisms at universities across the country that provide all the types of support that junior scholars need to develop their research into the best form it can be and develop themselves into thriving and engaged faculty. For me, the Collegiate Fellowship gives me the freedom to pose big questions and the institutional support to answer those questions all while easing me into the University. Another important piece of this is what the existence of the LSA Collegiate Fellowship signaled to me about the University of Michigan. UM saw a need to aid in the recruitment and retention of scholars with a specialty, interest, background, and commitment to nurturing equity and inclusion. The University then constructed an apparatus and provided the resources to fill that need. As it relates to the first question about what brought me to UM, that overt support at the highest level within the University communicated that not only would my scholarship would be valued but *I* would be valued as well. Put simply, ten out of ten, would recommend. 

What advice do you have for undergraduate or graduate students?

I would advise undergraduate and graduate students to ask questions. Not simply ask questions in classes, which students should do, but use questions as a strategic tool. For example, I often get undergraduate students who come to me because they want to go to law school, but they have no idea what going to law school entails or whether it is the right fit. Often, law school or insert some other thing is what students have seen others do or where there is seemingly a clear path. In those instances, I simply ask students things about themselves to try and help unearth what it really is that they are interested in. The same goes for graduate students who may feel like they want to do some research project because it feels like what they should do, but upon questioning their interests it is clear there is something else that they may find more fascinating and interesting. In both cases, asking questions of themselves, peers, and faculty becomes a tool for students to calibrate their understanding and move them in the right direction. 

Is there anything else you'd like the OS community to know about you?

All my degrees are from THE Ohio State University. My door is always open for trash talk. So, I look forward to receiving comments from all Ohio State haters and channeling that energy into a hadouken of OSU victories and Big Ten championships.