From Our Director

I am delighted to share with you the first in a series of publications showcasing the work undertaken by the Center for Social Solutions.

Though the past year has been like no other as the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic continued to suspend our lives and challenge our resilience, I was struck by the difficulty in selecting only four representative pieces of the Center’s work thus far. Modestly, and without in any way minimizing the pain and loss we all have endured, we have rededicated ourselves to cultivating collaboration, leadership, and scholarship to create a more equitable and just future.

The pages that follow illuminate the ongoing research conducted within the Center’s four founding initiatives–diversity and democracy, the future of work, slavery and its aftermath, and water equity and security—over the course of 2021. These initiatives, though ostensibly disparate in disciplines, share the common cause of identifying contemporary problems rooted in historical inequities. Many of the people and communities implicated in one research area are indeed bound to appear in others.

Our researchers are exploring how policies in disaster response at the national level and a lack of accurate data affect those in our own backyard; how diversity in higher education has been largely driven by student efforts; how many elite universities’ direct ties to slavery are more prevalent than most know; and how higher education can—must—play a role in protecting our nation’s most fragile workers.

Notwithstanding obvious challenges, I am grateful we were able to continue our work, double our staff, and to do so safely and productively. You are invited to visit our website to gain a fuller sense of the work we have undertaken. As we reflect on the year and look to the future, I am continually inspired by our collective strength and optimistic that we will continue to advance the goal of offering solutions to some of our age’s most pressing problems.


Earl Lewis, Ph.DFounding Director, Center for Social Solutions

Thomas C. Holt Distinguished University Professor of History, Afroamerican and African Studies, and Public Policy



Read the full periodical here