In the United States, symbols of social pathology are attached more to African Americans than to any other minority group. African Americans remain at the high end of statistics for crime, HIV-AIDS, teen pregnancy, school dropouts, and single parent families. African Americans are at higher risk than any other minority group for diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, poor nutrition, death by violence, environmental contamination, inadequate housing and inadequate transportation. The continued existence of these social ills are the result of the yet unresolved issues and problems of deprivation and inequities in the political, social and economic system in this country. Atlanta University faculty and students in the social sciences have been at the forefront in addressing the problems from Dr. W. E. B. DuBois during the early 1900s to the present when Clark Atlanta University's (CAU) nationally recognized social scientists, such as Robert Bullard, Bob Holmes, Edward Davis, Sandra Taylor, Komanduri Murty and Ron Finnell are leading the effort to address issues such as environmental justice, criminal justice, AIDs, affordable housing, economic parity and transportation equity for minority communities.
Historically, most government public policy decisions affecting African Americans and minority communities have been made without either their participation or knowledge. Government officials often make decisions without concern for the special needs of or potential adverse impact on these communities. Various recent government public policies and programs designed to enhance their physical and economic well being have often not achieved the desired results. Several key variables can be cited to account for this state of affairs and one of the most significant factors is the lack of input from the target population as well as the absence of black and minority researchers in evaluation of the formulation, implementation and the results of policies in such areas as community development, criminal justice, education, election, housing, health, planning, public finance, and transportation.
It is imperative that this situation not be permitted to continue and it is in an effort to eliminate this condition that CAU is establishing the DuBois Institute. The Institute will provide new ideas, on the past and contemporary predicament of African Americans and analyze and propose public policies which have the greatest impact on the lives of African Americans particularly those living in the South in business, community development, criminal justice, education and energy, health, housing, planning and zoning, public finance, social welfare and transportation. Because of the growing concerns over the enormous economic, environmental and social consequences of governmental programs, the Institute will seek to promote the vast array of multi-disciplinary and systematic research on public policy issues. This will provide citizens with a clear picture of the policy process and access points as well as assist in developing and designing new procedures, mechanisms and strategies for democratizing the government planning and decision-making processes to enable affected publics to more effectively impact the policy process. Also, it would provide a framework to simultaneously analyze and evaluate extant programs and policies to ensure that government decisions more accurately reflect a community consensus on policies to be introduced, implemented, modified or eliminated.
Research directions, information, technical assistance and advice will be provided on a range of matters relating to the policymaking processes and structures. It would monitor work being done by government agencies in areas directly impacting black people, and serve as an advocate as well as a liaison between government and community. It will seek to ascertain community research interests and priorities and facilitate the transmission of the views and values of affected communities to government officials. A key aspect of the Institute’s operation will be the dissemination of its research findings through publication of monographs and articles in journals as well as holding seminars and forums involving government officials, community leaders, Institute associates and other interested participants. The Institute aims to bring to the Atlanta community a wide range of international scholars, statesmen, business executives, and other professionals; and thus, provide a major opportunity to merge the knowledge of the academy with the practice of public affairs in resolving social issues.