top of page

The Buffalo Project Mission: To develop action-based diversity initiatives that focus on utilizing participant observations of culture to inform solution-making efforts in college and community environments.

(Its name, “The Buffalo Project,” is a bit of a misnomer, but since it originated in Buffalo, we felt it important to celebrate its origins.)

Follow Us on Twitter; Check out our Website; Watch our YouTube Channel

BUFFALO PROJECT Investigators (2010-present)

SUNY Empire State College Principal Investigators: Dr. Rhianna C. Rogers (2010-present), Dr. Menoukha Case (Summer 2020 – present), Dr. La Tasha Brown (Summer 2020), Dr. Elizabeth Bradley (2017-2018), Dr. Rebecca Eliseo-Arras (Spring 2019), Dr. Dan Nyaronga (Spring 2020) 

SUNY Buffalo State College Principal Investigator: Dr. Aimee Woznick (2013-2014 and 2018-2019), Karina Loera-Barcenas, M.S. (Spring 2020)

University at Buffalo Principal Investigators: Kathy Twist, M.A. (2017-2019)

SUNY Empire Alumni Research Consultants: Dominique Murawski, M.A. (2018-2020) and Halee Potter, B.A. (2018-2019)

Research Associates (2010-present):

  • SPEC/BP RAs (Spring 2021): Nay Farber, Sandra Ortiz Juarez, Mikayla Schneiter, Carly Van Syckle, Bethany Patterson, Asia Moore, and Johnson Kow, and Joe Golden

  • SPEC/BP RAs (Fall 2020): Mikayla Schneiter, Carly Van Syckle, Bethany Patterson, Asia Moore, and Marcus Steiner

  • SPEC/BP RAs (Summer 2020): Shermane “Sammie” Maitland, Nayury “Nay” Farber, and Nan Mead

  • Rockefeller CLPS Interns/BP RAs (Spring 2020): Nan Mead, Nayury “Nay” Farber, Maria Holmes, Mikayla Schneiter, Carly Van Syckle, Bethany Patterson, Julie Varughese, and Michelle Paterson

  • BP RAs 2018-2019: Dominique Murawski (2017-2018), Halee Potter (2017 -2018), Rachel Whipple (2019), Krystl Lentz (2018-2019), Cordell Roulhac (2018), Nikki M. Parlato (2018), Carole Machowski (2018)

  • BP RAs 2016-2018: Alexandra B. Valenti (2016-2018), Norma Rivera (2016)

  • BP RAs 2014: Linda Holliday (2014)

  • BP RAs 2010-2013: Maria Tripi (2010-2013), and Vincent Caito (2010-2011)




The Buffalo Project is a longitudinal participatory action research project focused on the use of cultural data as the baseline for programmatic development and implementation.

For ten years (AY 2010-2020), Buffalo Project data has been analyzed to discuss students’ perceptions of culture and its impacts on the learning process. Generally speaking, our data indicated a general lack of cultural understanding among diverse student populations (i.e., across genders, race, ethnicity, settlement/location, class, economic, and technological divides), illustrating that students were not being adequately taught the importance of intercultural competencies and cross-cultural communication. As a way to address these issues, beginning in 2010, Principal Investigator (PI) Dr. Rhianna C. Rogers, co-PIs, colleagues, and research associates have worked with community stakeholders and WNY data to engage in a participatory action research study of perceptions of culture in the region, coined “The Buffalo Project.” With the support of a 2015 James William and Mary Elizabeth Hall Endowed Award for Innovation the Buffalo Project pilot was further expanded across SUNY Empire WNY campuses.

With the support of a 2018-2019 SUNY Explorations in Diversity & Academic Excellence Award (EDAE), in 2018, Rogers and her colleagues expanded this study into the Buffalo Project 2.0 (AY 2018-present), a joint ethnographic study of three SUNY campuses in WNY (i.e., SUNY Empire State College, SUNY Buffalo State College, and the University at Buffalo). The main goal of the Buffalo Project 2.0 was to leverage survey data to create regional opportunities for community stakeholders to learn from each other in both academic and community settings. Based on the success of the Buffalo Project 1.0 & 2.0, Rogers was offered both a 2019-2020 Provost Innovation Award and a 2019-2020 Rockefeller Institute of Government – Ernest Boyer Presidential Fellowship in the Center for Law and Policy Solutions. Beginning in 2019, Rogers and colleagues have been working to expand this study beyond WNY and across New York state using state-wide/international partnerships, formal and informal data collection(s), and the use of technological innovations (Buffalo Project 3.0 details forthcoming). As the Ernest Boyer Presidential Fellow, Rogers implemented new ways of using technology to increase conversation among students across SUNY campuses. She is led the Center for Law & Policy Solutions (CLPS) internship program in Spring 2020. 

Based on a 2020-2021 Provost/Dean Innovation Award and a new partnership with Sustainable Progress and Equality Collective (SPEC), we have expanded the Buffalo Project beyond Higher Education and into the community.

Due to their success, two Buffalo Project subprojects (SUNY Empire Connects and Virtual Residencies) were recently featured as part of the United Nations – Geneva Forum (Dec. 7-17, 2020).

Overall, we believe that this joint endeavor will encourage the development of cross-cultural competencies across a larger population of students, faculty, and administrators in the region. The goal is to teach cross-cultural understanding, respect, personal reflection and compassion for each other as members of a globalized community. The more we understand each other, the more we can make the world a better place for all.

Selected Presentations (Watch Here)

R. Rogers United Nations – Geneva Forum (Dec. 7-17, 2020) presentation on “Purposeful Participatory Action Research: Developing Responsive DEI Programming Online,” in the Project Based Learning for Peace and Development Conference. View Recording here (starts at 52.40mins):

R. Rogers’ Asian American Herald Talk Show (2020): Studying Anti-Racism at Empire State College

R. Rogers’ Policy Outsider interview – A Rockefeller Institute of Government Podcast: Using Online Learning to Bridge Cultural Divides (2020)

Student Nayury Farber’s presentation: Understanding Intercultural Competencies & Becoming a Global Citizen (2019) 

R.Rogers’ Creative Mornings Presentation: Wonder and WNY Culture: An Activist Approach (2019)

Buffalo Project 2.0 Presentation (Copresenters – R. Rogers, E. Bradley, A. Woznick, K. Twist, D. Murawski, H. Potter, K. Lentz, and N. Mead, 2019)

*For a full list of presentations, please see R. Rogers LinkedIn account

REPORTS (Read Here)

Buffalo Project 1.0 (2010-2018) Reports

AY-2012-2013-Report-for-IRB (R.Rogers and M. Tripi)

AY 2013-2014 Report for IRB (R.Rogers and A. Woznick)

AY 2016-2018 Buffalo Project Report (R. Rogers, D. Murawski, H. Potter, and A. Valenti)

Buffalo Project 2.0 (2018-2019) Reports

Buffalo Project 2.0 Report (R. Rogers, E. Bradley, A. Woznick, K. Twist, D. Murawski, H. Potter, K. Lentz, and N. Mead)

Buffalo Project 3.0 (2019 – present) Reports 

Student Experiences with Cyberbullying and Campus Wellness Services (R. Eliseo-Arras, M. Paterson – Spring 2020)

Social Media Report for the Buffalo Project (N. Farber – Spring 2020)

Buffalo Project 3: Year-End Progress Report (N. Mead – Spring 2020)

Articles (Read Here)

Value of Deliberative Conversation in Participatory Action Research. (D. Murwaski, N. Mead, H. Potter, D. Hapka, N. Parlato, C. Machowski, A. Brown, and R. Rogers) Rockefeller Institute of Government, Spring 2020.

Effectively Facilitating Cross-Cultural Learning: Lessons Learned from the Buffalo Project” (R.Rogers, D. Murawski, and H. Potter) SUNY Empire State College, All About Mentoring, Spring 2019

How to Cultivate ‘Cultural Openness’ Among Adult Learners: Practical Examples from the Buffalo Project” (R.Rogers and A. Woznick) SUNY Empire State College, All About Mentoring, Winter 2015

bottom of page