Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research
Training: Summer Workshops
Each year, the MCUAAAR Research and Education Core (REC) sponsors a summer training workshop to train junior investigators in diverse aspects of minority aging research. The workshop’s objectives are to identify and mentor investigators who are committed to conducting research on older African Americans and improve the quality and quantity of research conducted on African American life-courses and aging populations. Overall, each workshop averages 25-28 participants (mostly ethnic minorities); this size allows for individual attention and is conducive to active participation. Workshop sessions emphasize education in: (1) methodological approaches to health research with African American elders; (2) issues related to recruiting this population for research studies; (3) publication of research results; (4) preparing and submitting R- and K-type grants, primarily to the NIH; and, (5) conducting high-quality research on African American older adults. The summer workshop has also covered professional development topics, including the ethical conduct of research and the tenure process. Generally, hosting the Summer Workshop rotates among the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and Michigan State University.
In 2014 and 2016, the MCUAAAR also offered summer programs specifically for doctoral students. The workshops averaged 35 students from various social science disciplines and professions, primarily social work. These graduate programs have addressed roughly the same material as the regular MCUAAAR workshops, but geared for doctoral training; for example, we cover strategies for securing postdoctoral fellowships and tenure-track positions. We have been extremely fortunate in obtaining funding for these workshops from university sources and the Council for Social Work Education; more than 90% of the costs are for participant stipends to cover travel and hotel expenses. As indicated by enthusiastic evaluations, the graduate summer workshops have been very well received. Similar to the Early Career MCUAAAR Research Scientists, the overall objectives of the these Workshops have been to contribute to the improvement of the quality and quantity of research conducted on aging African Americans and identify and mentor promising graduate student investigators who are committed to conducting research on this and other ethnic and racial minority populations. The workshops emphasize training in several areas including: 1) writing NIH proposals, 2) conducting and publishing research, 3) ethics and the responsible conduct of research, and 4) technology tools to assist in the research process. In addition, professional development content focuses on providing individual feedback on research proposals and projects, guided coaching and training on interviewing for university tenure-track positions, and meeting career challenges in navigating the academy.