Ramírez & Gurjar Awarded 2024 NSC Faculty Fellowship

Headshot of David Ramírez and Nandita Gurjar

This fellowship was created by BIPOC faculty for BIPOC faculty to support professional development.

RIC faculty members David Ramírez and Nandita Gurjar have been awarded the North Star Collective Faculty Fellowship by the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE). This fellowship was created by BIPOC faculty for BIPOC faculty to support professional development.

Each year NEBHE selects up to two fellows from each North Star Collective institution (a group of colleges and universities in New England who are committed to transforming their institutions and uplifting BIPOC faculty members; Rhode Island College is one of the 13 founding members.) 

According to RIC Vice President of External Relations and Diversity Equity and Inclusion Anna Cano Morales, “This partnership helps not only to engage our valued BIPOC faculty members, it also helps the college advance our DEI and hiring and retention goals. I am so pleased to have two fine faculty members in Dr. Ramírez and Dr. Gurjar participating in this year’s cohort. They represent their students and this college so well and work above and beyond to ensure that representation is seen and felt at RIC.”

“We know that these exceptional faculty members will greatly benefit from this experience,” adds Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Carolynn Masters, “and continue to positively contribute to an inclusive campus climate through their teaching, scholarship and service.”

Ramírez, a native of Colombia, came to the United States as a Ph.D. student. Today he is director of RIC’s Latin American Studies Program within the Department of Modern Languages and associate professor of Spanish and Latin American studies. His research work is in the field of Latin American and Hispanic Caribbean studies. 

During the period of his fellowship, Ramírez will focus on researching and writing an article about the Afro-Caribbean intellectual Manuel Zapata Olivella. His work will show how Olivella destabilizes the conception of the Caribbean as a fragmented space, divided between islands, languages and nations. Recently, Ramírez received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities for his work on Hispanic Caribbean literature. 

Gurjar, a native of India, is assistant professor of elementary and early childhood education. Her research strives to make education accessible, equitable and socially just for marginalized identities and populations. Gurjar focuses on innovative, equity-driven practices and humanizing pedagogies that cultivate inclusivity, empathy and a sense of belonging in a caring community to empower learners with agency.

During the period of her fellowship, Gurjar will research open educational practices through the lens of redistributive justice, recognitive justice and representational justice. Her recent work on equity-based empathy mapping in Learning Experience Design and best practices, approaches and strategies for humanizing online learning will be published by Springer and IGI Global respectively.

“I am honored, humbled, and grateful to have received this fellowship,” Gurjar says, “as it provides a transformative opportunity to connect with other BIPOC scholars in the New England region while providing a restorative, nourishing and uplifting space in a genuine community of care.”

Ramirez adds that “being part of a community of BIPOC scholars who are dedicated to collaborating and supporting each other beyond their roles as academics has been incredible. This has been a unique experience, and I hope RIC will continue to support it for many years to come.”

North Star Collective fellowships run from January to May 2024 and include a stipend for research, publication and professional development; a writing retreat, a biweekly community check-in with fellows; interactive workshops; networking and mentorship through NEBHE’s networks; and a closing colloquium for fellows to share their work in-progress. This year’s closing colloquium will be held in May at Bentley University in Massachusetts.