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Washington State University
WSU Research Opportunity and Equity

Opportunity and equity

Promoting an informed and equitable society, expanding individual opportunity, and advancing social justice

The challenge

A skilled workforce is key to economic prosperity. But not every worker in America has the opportunity to rise to his or her full career potential. Opportunity inequality persists in employment, education, and health care. It erects barriers to personal growth and squanders priceless human capital.

WSU’s role in the solution

WSU researchers investigate causes and consequences of inequality of opportunity. They reveal new paths for expanding prospects for individuals. They find new ways to promote social justice.

Working across disciplines, scholars examine inequities in many arenas: media and politics, health care, access to communication technology, and the fragmented political landscape. In education, WSU faculty members explore reasons why science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines attract a disproportionately small number of women and people from historically underrepresented groups.

Within this Grand Challenge, scholars address several research themes, touching on issues like these:

Inequality of opportunity: Causes and consequences

  • Causes and consequences of injustice and inequality
  • Understanding history and its relevance to contemporary society
  • Social and cultural context of science and technology
  • Media’s influence in shaping societal and political discourse
  • Cultural studies in education

More about inequal opportunity

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Promoting equity

  • Understanding gender, race, and culture through artistic expression and critical inquiry
  • Understanding diversity from genetic through cultural levels of analysis
  • Injustice and inequality
  • Distribution of resources
  • Educational access

More about promoting equity

Policy evaluation and advancement

  • Robust analytic and modeling strategies
  • Democratization of information and digital access
  • Global competition and its impact on the United States and world economies
  • Media psychology and communication processes and effects

More about policy evaluation and advancement

Improving education

  • STEM education and educational pipelines
  • Cultural studies in education
  • Neuroscience and neuropsychology of education
  • Community public health
  • The role of technology in education

More about improving education


WSU works closely with its public and private sector partners who support research to advance equal opportunity. Among the university’s collaborators in the nation’s capitol are:

Affiliated institutes, centers, and programs

Center for Environmental Research, Education, and Outreach (CEREO)

Academic and industry leaders applying innovative technologies and management tools to the challenges of global climate change and environmental sustainability

Center for Social and Environmental Justice

Fostering analysis of social, economic, racial and environmental justice issues and promoting human rights and conflict resolution at the local, national and global levels

Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service

A nonpartisan, cross-disciplinary center that advances the public’s understanding of democratic institutions, engages students in public service, and supports academic research to address society’s most vexing public policy challenges

Harold Frank Engineering Entrepreneurship Institute

Training future entrepreneurs how to move from an idea to sustainable realization in the marketplace

Health Science STEM Education Research Center

Over 100 WSU researchers conduct collaborative science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education research from early grades to graduate school, a vital aspect of social and economic opportunity. A key feature of this work is research that focuses on clinical education.

Learning and Performance Research Center

Studies factors related to success in work and learning environments, develops and evaluates statistical and methodological innovations, and provides evidence-based evaluations of program interventions

Social and Economic Sciences Research Center

Providing high quality survey research services to the University, to citizens, and to policy makers nationwide

Team Mentoring Program (Multicultural Student Services)

Increasing the retention, achievement, and graduation of students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines

Further information

Find out more about the University’s research pertaining to opportunity and equity.

Opportunity and Equity (pdf)