Q Collective

COVID-19 safety resources for LGBTQ+ students.

Camp Qmunity: A Queer Studies Summer Intensive

Join VCU’s Queer Research and Advocacy Center, known as the Q Collective, for a summer intensive on LGBT+/Queer Studies. Throughout the month of July, we will meet synchronously and asynchronously to discuss queer history, evaluate queer epistemologies and methods, analyze pedagogies of queer inclusion, and much more. Featuring guest speakers with specializations in, among others, queer health, LGBTQIA+ families, and the intersections of race, nationality, and the body, students will learn, study, and engage with mentors and scholars from throughout the VCU community. This interdisciplinary intensive culminates in a group project focused on building a virtual queer presence at VCU.

This competitive opportunity is open to all students with at least one more semester of full-time undergraduate coursework. Pell eligible, first-generation, and students who hold multiple marginalized identities are particularly encouraged to apply. For questions, please email qcollective@vcu.edu.

Applications are now closed. Thank you for your interest.

Camp Qmunity is Co-Directed by Archana A. Pathak & Bethany M. (bee) Coston.

Photo from The Gender Spectrum Collection on Vice.

Week 1: July 6-10, 2020

Topics Covered

  • Introduction: LGBT/Queer Studies history
  • This area focuses on the ways in which knowledge production serves to uphold and/or disrupt dominant structures of power. Moving from Audre Lorde’s claim that "the master’s tools cannot dismantle the master’s house," how do we engage with knowledge production in way that center multiply marginalized people and communities? How do we utilize "traditional" methods differently? What does it mean do queer method? What does it mean to decolonize method? In what ways does "big data" impact LGBTQIA+ communities? How is that then exacerbated by digital spaces? Readings include but are not limited to: Chela Sandoval’s Methodology of the Oppressed, Paul Feyerabend’s Against Method, Audre Lorde’s Zami is my name, and Linda Tuwahi Smith’s Decolonizing Method.

Guest Speakers

Week 2: July 13-17, 2020

Topics Covered

  • As epistemological frames evolve and expand, we see use/mis-use, calcification/generation, engagement/disengagement across multiple theories, disciplines, methodologies, etc. As we do work that, at its heart, claims to disrupt the status quo, what does it mean for our theories to gain academic prominence? How do we find ways to bring these theories into conversation with each other such that they maintain their integrity while expanding our ability to explore the LGBTQ+ experience? How do interrogate mis/appropriation of theory? How do theories of the body inform our virtual presence? What does it mean to be "embodied" in virtual spaces? How do we reconcile our commitment to justice driven work with the inherent coloniality of the academic mechanism? Readings include but are not limited to: Jennifer Nash’s Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality, Sara Ahmed’s Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others, Taylor, Hines & Casey’s Theorizing Intersectionality and Sexuality.

Guest Speakers

Week 3: July 20-24, 2020

Topics Covered

  • This area focuses on the theory of pedagogy and ways in which we can expand theoretical frames beyond dominant epistemologies. We will explore: What is inclusive pedagogy? What is its place in LGBT/Queer Studies? What does it mean to queer the classroom? How does one build inclusive pedagogy for multiply marginalized student communities? What does it mean to decolonize pedagogy? How does that fit with the growing move to queer practice? How can virtual learning spaces serve these questions? What are the ways in which virtual learning spaces might open up a decolonizing and queering of the classroom? Readings include but are not limited to: bell hook’s Teaching to Transgress, Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Karen Harbeck’s Coming Out of the Classroom Closet.

Guest Speakers

Week 4: July 27-31

Topics Covered

  • Wrap-up
  • This cohort will work collaboratively on building a virtual LGBTQIA presence for VCU. They will then "pitch" this IES leadership for consideration to be incorporated into a university web space.

The Queer Research and Advocacy Center, known as the Q Collective, serves as a creative and intellectual hub in support of LGBTQIA+ artistic and scholarly activities among faculty, staff, students and the Greater Richmond community. The Q Collective supports LGBTQIA+ research, scholarship and advocacy; and works to inform and serve the community. The creation of the Q Collective establishes VCU as a national leader in a rapidly growing and evolving field. The Q Collective emphasizes a commitment to VCU’s values of diversity and inclusion.

For questions, please email qcollective@vcu.edu.

Q Collective Interim Director:

Archana A. Pathak, Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success; Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies

Advisory Committee Charge:

This body will work in concert with the director to move forward the mission, strategic plan, key initiatives and programming of the Queer Research and Advocacy Center.

Advisory Committee Membership:

Kevin Allison – faculty, Dept. of Psychology; Wilder School; Office of the President

bee Coston – faculty, Dept. of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies

Shannon Cribbs – Program Manager, VCU Health Systems

Dorothy Fillmore – Director of Academic Operations, Dept. of Psychology

Aurora Higgs – Program Manager, Office of Continuing and Professional Education

madison Moore – faculty, Dept. of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies

Matilde Moros – faculty, Dept. of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies

Lisa Webb - Assistant Vice President, Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences

Mission Statement:

The Queer Research & Advocacy Collective (The Q Collective) builds, represents, and serves VCU’s intellectual and creative communities by developing and supporting scholarly and artistic activity that centers and nourishes the diversity of VCU students, employees, alumni and the greater Richmond community. The Q Collective employs a research/advocacy/activist model through a creation, catalyst, and community rubric to connect, generate and support scholarly and creative work centering on LGBTQIA+ communities across multiple identities.

The Q Collective generates scholarship, creative works, processes, and policies for transformative change benefitting LGBTQIA+ communities broadly defined. The Q Collective connects research and advocacy, integrating overlapping constituencies (faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members); and, focuses on and supports scholars and artists and the creation of their work through trans-disciplinary and intersectional approaches.

Research, Scholarship and Advocacy

Scholars are doing groundbreaking research in this area and students are engaging in exciting scholarship and creative work. The Q Collective’s emphasis on research and advocacy aligns with the way researchers in the LGBTQIA+ approach their work. For so many people who do research in this area, it’s ultimately about making the community better. It’s about creating more inclusive spaces and creating a more just world. It’s about that relationship between what we do and the purpose of what we do.

Momentum has gathered in recent years at VCU to increase the university’s investment in LGBTQIA+ studies. In fall 2018, the College of Humanities and Sciences hired three new tenure-track faculty focused on LGBTQIA+ topics through its Big Ideas initiative. Also, iCubed, the university’s center that invests in transdisciplinary academic and research programs, in the past year has recruited faculty to fill transdisciplinary core research in LGBTQIA+ intersectionality. VCU has also introduced  a new interdisciplinary minor in LGBT+ and queer studies.

Communication and Collaboration

Through its multi-pronged focus on research and creative expression, advocacy and education, the Q Collective will create numerous opportunities for collaboration among faculty, staff and students throughout the university. 

A core mission of the Q Collective will be helping develop conversations and collaborations. There are many people in the VCU community who are doing excellent LGBTQ+ research and advocacy work on campus and in the larger community, but at a university as large as VCU, even those of us who are involved in this work don’t always see what is being done in other departments and units.

We’re excited about the potential for the Q Collective to facilitate collaboration and advocacy, raise awareness about resources, and bring greater visibility to some of the excellent scholarship and work that is being done at VCU.

Community Engagement

The Q Collective will not be an isolated institution. The center will form natural partnerships with academic and nonacademic units and provide opportunities for the entire VCU community. The Greater Richmond community will play an essential role in the Q Collective. Engaging the broader LGBTQIA+ community on campus and in the Richmond community will be central to the center’s success. We also have amazing support from our community partners. The Q Collective will provide them with the resources and opportunities that they deserve.

National Prominence

The Q Collective will continue to elevate VCU to a position of national prominence in this important area of work. The center will stand out on the national higher education landscape as a rare effort to merge research, scholarship and advocacy to bring greater awareness to issues that affect LGBTQIA+ populations and communities. The center demonstrates to the world that VCU is the place for LGBTQ research, scholarship, creativity and advocacy.

This center will position us to be a part of this conversation in a very meaningful way, and it’s going to put us in the forefront on these topics. This combination of doing the work and understanding the integrated relationship between communities, scholarship and efficacy isn’t something you will find in many other places.


Key partners  

VCU Organizations

Equality VCU
Queer Action (student group)
oSTEM (student group)

Community Organizations

Diversity Richmond
Equality VA
Side by Side
Virginia Anti-Violence Project
Richmond-area LGBTQ Leadership council