McNair Scholar 2018 Kania Johnson

Kania Johnson is a senior at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, majoring in family social science. Her research interests revolve around understanding racial and ethnic inequities, and the impact they have on policies and access to opportunities for communities of color. Ms. Johnson plans on getting her Ph.D. in Policy and Organizational Studies.

Kania Johnson headshot
My dream is to start my own non-profit organization and to receive a Ph.D. in Policy and Organizational Studies. I want to use my work to ensure everyone feels valued and included in our society because I believe we are all blessed to be a blessing, and have something to offer the world.

Research project

Getting Close to Inequities: Inequality Experts’ Proximity to the Communities They Serve

Abstract: Society tasks professionals and community leaders with the responsibility of addressing and eradicating racial inequities, especially in Minnesota, a state with especially large racial disparities in education, housing, and punishment. How do community leaders, agency heads, and public service professionals view these inequities? We analyzed interviews of these inequality experts to better understand how they account for and address racial and ethnic inequities that impact the communities of color they serve in the Twin Cities. Given this context, we ask, how proximity -- group membership and degree of closeness to racial and ethnic inequities – impact their views. Based on research by legal scholars such as Bryan Stevenson and sociologists like William A. Gamson, we conceptualize proximity in terms of group identity and degree of closeness between inequality experts and the communities they serve. We find that proximity is complex and influences how inequality experts view their work.

Faculty mentor

Dr. Chris Uggen is currently a Regents Professor and Distinguished McKnight Professor of Sociology and Law at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and Vice President of the American Sociological Association. Dr. Uggen attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he received his Masters and Ph. D. in Sociology. His research interests are in crime, justice, law, and inequality. Dr. Uggen’s passion for justice and equity has afforded him a lot of wonderful accomplishments. One being that he was recognized in the New York Times for idea of the year for his work on treating felons as citizens. Dr. Chris Uggen has been a faculty mentor for the McNair scholars program for 19 years.