A campus-wide endeavor that aims to explore the meaning of living race in an increasingly complex racial world, the program conducts research projects under this larger theme, convenes conversations amongst academics and the public and provides various tools to advance understanding of what race means today.


Houston is one of the most ethnically and racially diverse cities and one of the only cities with no clear racial majority, making it the ideal place to explore race and racial identity. What does this diversity mean on the ground? That is the research the Program for the Study of Ethnicity, Race and Culture (PSERC) undertakes. Race is “lived” in our interactions with friends, relatives, even strangers, and is also experienced when we fill out forms, apply for jobs, and even look for housing. While many see race as mattering less to how we live our lives, there are many signs that it matters as much or more to how we see ourselves and how we are seen by others. 

Strategic Goals

Through conferences, including the recently convened conference, Measuring the Diverging Components of Race In Multiracial America, PSERC hopes to explore the essential question: do we need more than one way to measure an individual’s race? The program also hosts regular discussions on the topic through its Dialogue Partners series. And its work reaches into the classroom, including via an all-day symposium “Having the Talk: Teaching Race in the Undergraduate Classroom.”

In addition, PSERC offers several tools for researchers and communities, including the Interracial Contact and Health Project, which explores the ways in which multiracial identity, interracial family formation and living residential integrated spaces differentiates health status and health behaviors. Other related projects include explorations of multiracial families and how they differ from monoracial families. PSERC also developed the Complex Race Data Profiles – an on-line resource for researchers interested in examining complex data issues in public data. PSERC is also working towards developing a data library of public data in Houston neighborhoods.

Select Work

Community (Dis)Investment in a Diverse City: Supermarket Location, Shifting Compositions, and Emerging Racial Hierarchies.

Poverty at a Racial Crossroads: Poverty Among Multiracial Children of Single Mothers.

Multiracial Children and Poverty: Evidence from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study of Kindergarteners.


Jenifer Bratter


Head shot of Jenifer Bratter

Jenifer Bratter

  • Kinder Fellow
  • Professor of Sociology, Rice University
  • Director, Program for the Study of Ethnicity, Race and Culture


Dan Bolger

Dan Bolger

  • Community Bridges Instructor, Kinder Institute for Urban Research