Intersections of Race, Justice and Disability in North Carolina (2021-2022)


The COVID-19 pandemic shed light on the fragilities of social, economic and political frameworks. Due in some degree to the pandemic, the social, racial, gender and economic disparities in the United States have been accentuated. Discussions of the equal or equitable distribution of vaccines show the crevasses within the social fabric of America. More precisely, the disproportional impact of the pandemic on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) has been reported. Although not often described, living with a disability and belonging to the BIPOC communities also affects an individual’s ability to fulfill their human rights, and may create even greater stigma and marginalization. 

Project Description

Building on the work of the 2020-2021 team, which explored the disproportional impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities, this year’s project team will investigate the intersections of disability, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and human rights among people with disabilities across North Carolina. 

The primary goal of this project is to build on experiences gathered from a series of key informants’ interviews and focus group discussions to create a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that can have broad-based utility and impact. Team members will pursue three main objectives:

  1. Describe the lived experiences of people with disabilities who are part of the BIPOC communities across the three regions of North Carolina (Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plains)
  2. Develop evidence-based and inclusive policy and practice response mechanisms recommendations aiming for greater inclusion of people with disabilities who are part of the BIPOC communities. 
  3. Create a short MOOC to raise awareness and build inclusion competencies among stakeholders. 

The team will build and submit the project protocol and conduct a scoping review along with a series of 15 interviews to explore the experiences, needs and extent of inclusion and barriers in access for people with disabilities who are part of the BIPOC communities. Interviews will be conducted via videoconferencing. A series of three focus group discussions (one in each of the state’s regions) will be conducted with a broad base of community stakeholders.

Team members will triangulate the data and lessons learned from the previous year’s team, along with the results from the scoping review, interviews and focus group discussions, in order to build a five-hour MOOC. This final product will be publicly accessible.

Anticipated Outputs

Scoping review; three manuscripts; five-hour MOOC

Student Opportunities

Ideally, this project team will be comprised of 2 graduate students and 8 undergraduate students. Interested students must have a keen interest in thoroughly understanding the complexities surrounding persons with disabilities, especially in a pandemic scenario. Students will most likely be recruited through the Duke Global Health Institute, the Franklin Humanities lab, the health professional training programs (including medicine, nursing, physical therapy and physician assistants) and through the Duke Disability Alliance student group. Openness, willingness and humility to explore one’s own perspective will be crucial.

All students will have the opportunity for short and focused didactic sessions from experts from all over the world. Team members will be introduced to local national and global leaders in this field of disability and human rights. Students will apply knowledge derived from the project curriculum through their brief weekly analytical discussions, but the culmination for content knowledge acquisition will be the direct exposure to a qualitative research study that will uncover the complexities that exist in the fields of disability, race/ethnicity and human rights. The project team will meet weekly to deliver a curriculum throughout the academic year in order to build knowledge and competencies in disability, social justice and research methods. 

A graduate student will be selected to serve as project manager, and another will be selected to serve as a research manager. Project managers will be responsible for the leadership and management of the extension project, and in addition to the weekly student meetings, the leadership team will meet twice a month to ensure that the project moves forward efficiently.


Fall 2021 – Summer 2022

  • Fall 2021: Begin weekly meetings; submit IRB; complete scoping review; develop MOOC
  • Spring 2022: Conduct 15 in-depth semi-structured interviews and three focus group discussions; complete development of MOOC
  • Summer 2022 (optional): Market the MOOC; complete all submissions for peer-reviewed journals

This Team in the News

Making the Most of Duke, Summer 2021


Academic credit available for fall and spring semesters; summer funding available


See earlier related team, Leave No One Behind: Exploring the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on People with Disabilities in North Carolina (2020-2021).


Team Leaders

  • Michel Landry, School of Medicine

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Lily Elman, Program II (AB)
  • Meera Gangasani
  • Caroline Kassir, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Josee Li
  • Nicole Rosenzweig

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Christopher Lunsford, School of Medicine-Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Anna Tupetz, School of Medicine-Surgery: Emergency Medicine

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Alliance of Disability Advocates
  • Jaschia Hall, Undergraduate Student, North Carolina Central University
  • Bobby Jefferson, DAI Global Health
  • Ismail Mohammad, Infosys Corporation
  • Phillip Sheppard, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine