Dr. Ashley Carpenter Is App State’s First Spencer Foundation Grant Recipient

Dr. Ashley Carpenter, assistant professor of higher education in the Department of Counseling, Family Therapy, and Higher Education, is Appalachian State University’s first Spencer Foundation grant recipient. The almost $50,000 grant is part of the Small Research Grants on Education Program and will fund her project entitled, “Picturing Resilience: The Visual Narratives of Safety and Joy among Black Collegians”. 

The Small Research Grants on Education Program supports education research projects that will contribute to the improvement of education. The goal of the program is to support rigorous, intellectually ambitious and technically sound research that is relevant to the most pressing questions and compelling opportunities in education.

“Exploring and studying Black joy on college campuses holds profound significance to me,” noted Carpenter. “It represents a pivotal opportunity to delve into a dimension of Black experiences often overlooked in academic discourse. Black joy encompasses the resilience, creativity, and celebration inherent in Black culture—a narrative historically sidelined or overshadowed by narratives of struggle and oppression.” 

“Joy is necessary for life, and I am excited to learn from students and even potentially integrate some of their strategies into my life,” she added.

“Dr. Carpenter is a dedicated educator who is advancing the field of higher education through her research and scholarly endeavors,” said Dr. Melba Spooner, dean of the Reich College of Education. “Her work not only here in the college and university, but in the academy at large, is critical to ensuring success and well-being for students, faculty and staff of color.”

Carpenter is an interdisciplinary scholar and practitioner working towards advancing equity and accessibility through various K-12 and Higher Education pathways. As an arts-based methodologist, her research and pedagogy are grounded in (re)humanizing education and challenging how academic socialization contributes to neoliberalism and systemic marginalization, with an intentional focus on participant action research. 

Her current work examines how Black students cultivate joy on their campuses, which is rooted in her desire to uplift and empower minoritized voices within academia and foster a sense of belonging and empowerment among students and faculty alike.

Various iterations and inspirations of this grant project work were funded through the Reich College of Education Summer Research Grant and the Grants Research and Services Office through the Scholarship for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (SDEI) grant.

Looking ahead, Carpenter is excited about the project’s next steps, with the first step focused on the project’s recruitment. 

“I plan to do a nationwide search on how Black students experience joy on their campuses--particularly noting the state, federal, and local changes related to equity,” said Carpenter. “As this is an arts-based project, I look forward to seeing how students express joy visually through various mediums (e.g., artifacts, paintings, pictures, poems).” 

“I think Black joy is universal, and I would like to have the work reach a larger audience through a coffee table book,” she continued. “It is important for me to make research accessible to all people, and I would love for this scholarship to exist, not just in traditional educational spaces. Honestly, I want to make something for someone like my grandfather to read and enjoy.”

Ashley Carpenter
Published: Apr 16, 2024 2:42pm