The Center for Violence Prevention at the University of Utah will serve as a national leader in the fight to eliminate relationship and sexual violence among U.S. college students. Using a power-conscious, intersectional framework, the center seeks to bridge the gap between research and practice by bringing together the expertise of researchers, prevention educators and students to execute a comprehensive research agenda focused on the prevention of relationship and sexual violence and to disseminate knowledge across the U.S. The work of the center will intentionally focus on students from historically minoritized backgrounds, including students of color, queer and trans students, and students with disabilities.
Despite decades of research, numerous questions still remain about the dynamics of relationship and sexual violence (RSV) among college students as well as the effectiveness of strategies for addressing this violence. Specifically, most research about RSV examines the experiences of heterosexual, white cisgender women. Emerging research suggests that perpetrators may target queer and trans students, students of color, and students with disabilities at even higher rates than their peers. Further, the research on RSV examines what makes someone at risk for violence, yet fails to interrogate patterns of perpetration of violence, resulting in limited strategies for intervening with potential perpetrators. Finally, most research on RSV examines the problem using college students as a convenience sample, yet does not include attention to the unique dynamics and strengths of college contexts, the organization of higher education and college student development.
Therefore, to contribute to eradicating RSV, the Center for Violence Prevention will focus on research and practice that addresses RSV from a power-conscious, intersectional lens, including attention to historically minoritized populations. Additionally, the center will focus its prevention efforts on better understanding and analyzing perpetration and peer culture as it relates to RSV. Specifically, in the first three years, the Center for Violence Prevention will:
- Educate campus community members, including faculty, staff, and students, about RSV prevention through a variety of professional development opportunities and partnerships with other campus-based programs and initiatives.
- Engage researchers in education and professional development to conduct critically-conscious research, with a specific focus on perpetration and peer culture.
- Engage practitioners in education and professional development to initiate critically-conscious educational programs and interventions for perpetrators.
- Develop and conduct comprehensive campus climate studies (including interviews, focus groups, and media analysis) at college campuses across the U.S.
- Coordinate research teams of faculty, staff, and students and provide seed grant funding for research projects focused explicitly on the primary prevention of RSV.