The Duke TRHT Center aims to provide an accurate recounting of our local and national histories of and perspectives on race and racism. Utilizing qualitative and quantitative research methods to uncover and understand patterns and mechanisms, we translate our findings into models that demonstrate or cultivate individual, interpersonal, and institutional transformation.

Bass Connections (2021-2022)

The TRHT Bass Connections project brought together a team of Duke faculty, staff, and graduate and undergraduate students who sought to better understand “who” participates in Rx Racial Healing® Circles (RxRHCs), including identifying demographic characteristics of individuals who choose to participate. Our team also examined changes in feeling states among RxRHC participants by assessing feelings pre- and post- participation. Our analyses indicated a shift toward more positive emotions after participating in an RxRHC.

Archival Research

As part of the expanding work on Duke’s institutional history regarding race and racism, our archival research encompasses documenting previous incidents and moments of racial tensions and progress at Duke (including student activism) and compiling resulting recommendations and institutional calls for action. This research is part of our ongoing partnership with Duke University Libraries, particularly with the University Archivist and the Curator of the Archive of Documentary Arts. We also accessed the archives of Duke’s independent student news organization, The Chronicle, which were instructive in their longitudinal documentation of student activism.

Black Employees at a Holiday Party, 1946
Black Employees at a Holiday Party, 1946
White Employees at a Holiday Party, 1946
White Employees at a Holiday Party, 1946

Courtesy of Duke University Archives


As part of the TRHT Center’s research program, we launched a survey of Duke undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in Spring 2021. The survey was conducted in partnership with Duke’s Trinity College Office of Assessment and Duke Student Affairs. The purpose of this survey is to understand student perspectives regarding race and racism. It included questions related to their perceptions of race and cross-racial relationships on and off Duke’s campus and in the US; comfort level discussing race and racism with other students, faculty, staff, and administrators; and perspectives on the relationship between race and genetics. In addition, students provided their thoughts in response to three open-ended questions: “What does the term ‘race’ mean to you when referring to people? What truths regarding race and racism would you like to see acknowledged and/or addressed? What actions would you want Duke to take to improve its relationship with the Durham community with regard to race and racism?” Data analysis is currently underway.


To produce a more complete narrative about race, racism, and race relations at Duke and between Duke and Durham, one phase of our research program involved qualitative interviews with Duke staff and administrators. We conducted qualitative interviews with 20 middle-and upper- level staff and administrators. Three broad questions were addressed: “How do middle and upper-level staff and administrators at Duke define the terms “race” and “racism”? What are the historical events or experiences that define race relations at Duke and between Duke and Durham? How do middle- and upper-level staff and administrators envision a path forward for Duke?”. Consistent with the TRHT Framework’s pillar of Narrative Change, the findings revealed varied understandings of race and racism and a complex history of race relations at Duke and between Duke and Durham. The findings offer a snapshot of the perspectives of middle- and upper- level staff and administrators and will, ultimately, inform future research and guide the TRHT Center’s efforts in promoting individual, interpersonal, and institutional transformation.

TRHT Race Photovoice Project

Racial inequity is a long-lasting concern in the US that has profound impacts on certain groups of people who have been disadvantaged or perceive themselves as being discriminated against. Although anti-racism policies, education campaigns, and social actions have been proposed, developed, or implemented nationally or locally, each community may have its unique challenges and needs to reach racial equity. To better understand the viewpoints of race and racial equity among Duke students and Durham residents, this project is being conducted using photovoice, a participatory qualitative method. By engaging Duke students and Durham residents in a series of photo taking activities, photo discussions, and photo exhibitions, we hope this project can help advance racial equity on campus and in the local area.