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Introducing the Vanderbilt LGBT Policy Lab

Posted by on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 in News, TIPs 2017.


Dr. Christopher Carpenter, Professor of Economics and Director of the Vanderbilt LGBT Policy Lab

Written by Dr. Christopher Carpenter, Professor of Economics and Director of the Vanderbilt LGBT Policy Lab

Does binary thinking affect support for transgender rights policies? How does legal access to same-sex marriage affect health insurance coverage and health? How will legal arguments about sex stereotyping be used in cases about discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity? How much support for the ‘Nashville Statement’ exists among the evangelical community in Nashville? 

These and other questions are at the heart of the new TIPs-supported Vanderbilt LGBT Policy Lab.  Bringing together faculty from five schools (College of Arts & Science, Divinity School, Law School, Peabody College and School of Medicine) and 10 departments (economics, political science, MHS, sociology, religious studies, divinity, law, LPO, health policy and anesthesiology), the Policy Lab supports a wide range of discovery and learning activities within the Vanderbilt community.

The university has unusual research strength in understanding the causes and consequences of LGBT-targeted public policies, and over the next three years the Policy Lab will harness that expertise to foster new collaborations that will inform debate on these timely social issues.

We plan to accomplish this through several activities. First, we will hire a postdoctoral scholar in LGBT Public Policy to work with Policy Lab faculty on new collaborative research. Second, we will design a course in LGBT public policies that will leverage the multidisciplinary expertise of Vanderbilt’s faculty. The course will be geared toward undergraduate students and will foster immersion activities and projects. Third, we will curate an External Seminar Series to allow leading experts from multiple disciplines to visit campus to discuss their latest research on LGBT public policies. Finally, we will host a major national conference on LGBT Public Policies on campus in Spring 2020.

While most of the Policy Lab’s activities are centered around activities in AY 18-19 and 19-20, we have begun introducing ourselves to the Vanderbilt community. For example, I spoke in the Faculty Talks series on Oct. 9, discussing how social science research has influenced the same-sex marriage debate. I will also visit Dr. Karen Hammer’s LGBT Studies class in the Department of Women’s Gender Studies on October 19. Additionally, Vanderbilt LGBT Policy Lab faculty are scheduled to have dinner in the Commons with Dean Beasley on Jan. 17, 2018. These all represent fantastic opportunities for us to tell the Vanderbilt community what we are all about.

We have also kicked off two meaningful Vanderbilt LGBT Policy Lab events this fall. The first is a small grants competition open to any student or faculty member at Vanderbilt. Details and eligibility requirements can be found here. We will consider projects on a rolling basis and hope to make several awards in the range of $500 – $1,500 to support research on a topic of relevance to LGBT public policy from any discipline.

The second major activity for this academic year is our new Vanderbilt LGBT Policy Lab Internal Seminar Series. Through this series of talks, LGBT Policy Lab faculty will present on various topics from the perspective of their own discipline. We will have two talks in Fall 2017 and four more during the Spring 2018 semester. The first Fall 2017 talk will feature me presenting research on same-sex marriage and attitudes in Europe on Nov. 15 from 2 – 3:30 p.m., in Buttrick 123. The second Fall 2017 talk will feature Matt Shaw presenting a paper titled “Safety by Inclusion as Curriculum” on Dec. 6 from 2 – 3:30 p.m., in Buttrick 123. We hope you can join us at one of these events! The Spring 2018 schedule will be posted on our TIPS website as soon as it is finalized. All campus and community members are invited to participate.

Given recent local, state and national policy events, understanding the causes and consequences of public policies targeted at the LGBTQI+ community is more important than ever. The Vanderbilt LGBT Policy Lab aims to be at the forefront of these efforts by fostering new research collaborations among the Vanderbilt community; creating opportunities for learning and immersion for Vanderbilt students; and serving as an intellectual leader on LGBT policy topics from a multidisciplinary perspective.

Be sure to return to this blog page regularly to follow along with updates regarding our project. Additionally, we welcome feedback and I invite readers to leave comments or ask questions in the space provided below.

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