What We Do
The Diversity Research and Action Consortium (DRAC) was established in 2005 to integrate research, consulting, and coordinate diversity services nationally, internationally, and in Northern Virginia. DRAC will provide research, training, consultation, and program evaluation in our increasingly complex and culturally and ethnically diverse world on national, international, and regional levels, helping to provide a more effective and efficient understanding, practices, and infrastructure.
To create an interdisciplinary perspective encompassing broad viewpoints, the DRAC will incorporate psychological, sociological, economic, public health, anthropological, public policy, legal, and educational academic disciplines. Along with practitioners and community leaders, these leaders aim to facilitate comprehensive analysis of, and related action to tackle the multifaceted issues related to ethnic and cultural diversity in the Northern Virginia region, nationally, and internationally.
DRAC's pilot project was investigating issues and concerns related to public and private sector organizations and agencies in Northern Virginia that work with ethnically and culturally diverse groups. An overview of large and small organizations was undertaken to determine current practices, growth and development, inter agency collaboration, needs for training, research, and consultation with regards to diversity, and future projected future directions in the area of cultural diversity. Research and investigation of this nature is critical in determining future programming and best practices in order to better address the current state of the private and public organizations and departments efficacy working with culturally diverse populations in the Northern Virginia region.
The DRAC research agenda is being developed and will include topics, methods, and priorities such as:
- Collaborating with schools to enhance work with ethnic and racially diverse students and parents.
- Identification of approaches used by service providers in Northern Virginia
- Understanding public policy as it relates to the promotion of and effectiveness of services that emphasize cultural diversity
- Assessment of the underlying theories in agencies and organizations that work with culturally diverse populations
- Determine best practices for handling particular types of situations
What is action research?
Research is a systematic gathering, analysis, and dispersion of information. Research is a means to verify, quantify, modify, rebut or reject informal and anecdotal understandings about the needs and preferences of individual groups. Research informs understanding and cooperation. Action research is the process of creating change and understanding at the same time; the prerequisites of social change.
The goal of DRAC is to provide services that complement and expand on, rather than duplicate, current work being done in a particular national, global, or regional area with culturally diverse populations. DRAC defines action as activities that directly impact the lives of people and promote psychological, social, and economic well being and growth. Action includes:
- Facilitating direct links between different organizations and groups in the public and private sectors
- Research and technical assistance for agencies and organizations working with culturally diverse groups
- Training and assistance to individuals working with targeted ethnic and racial groups that provide cohesion and consistency and enhance services.
DRAC initially targeted the Northern Virginia regional organizations and programs to assist in maintaining the unique identities of culturally diverse groups, but at the same time facilitate communication, and learn from one another about effective programs and practices. DRAC has expanded to co-sponsor a major global conference and is involved in consultation and training activities on a national and international level. DRAC services may include but are not limited to research, staff training, program consultation, program evaluation, program design, inter-agency communication, organizational development, and service brokering.