Michael Baran, M.A., PhD

President of Interactive Diversity Solutions

Michael Baran is a cultural anthropologist and after a little bit of time with him, you’ll be thinking like an anthropologist too. He draws on insights from a wide range of social sciences to explain a whole set of concepts that many acknowledge as important but few truly understand – terms such as implicit bias, structural inequalities, microaggressions, social construction and others. He uses an innovative digital module he created as pre-work for his talks so that in-person learning experiences can focus on synthesizing and deepening understanding as well as strengthening interpersonal connections.

Michael has his MA and PhD from the University of Michigan. He has researched race and diversity issues from a cultural and cognitive perspective for the past twenty years in various countries. He has taught courses on race at the University of Michigan and Harvard University and has consulted on diversity-related issues for schools, businesses and non-profits. In addition to his work as President of Interactive Diversity Solutions, he works as an Associate Director of Projects at the FrameWorks Institute, a social-science based communications think tank. In that role, he conducts and leads teams of researchers investigating a wide range of social issues, including race-related issues such as disparities in education, criminal justice reform, immigration, early childhood development, violence and housing disparities.

Throughout his career, he has been driven to think creatively about how academic research can be applied to the fights against injustice in the world. While not working, he raises four children and a handful of chickens with his wife Jill on a small iris farm in Maryland.

“I leverage the power and excitement of digital technologies and social science to inspire new ways of thinking and to spark new conversations about diversity.

Awards and Recognitions

  • Derek Bok Award for Excellence in Teaching, Harvard University
  • Innovations in Teaching Award, University of Michigan
  • MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, FrameWorks Institute
  • Games for Change Knight News Finalist for Guess My Race mobile app
  • David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies Faculty Grant, Harvard University
  • Awarded Condon Prize, Society for Psychological Anthropology
  • Associate Fellow, Michigan Society of Fellows, University of Michigan
  • Fulbright Scholar
  • National Science Foundation Fellowship

Recent Talks

  • National Conference on Race and Ethnicity “Flipping the Classroom on Race: A new solution for an old problem”
  • National Human Services Assembly, “A Preview of New Findings from the Reframing Human Services Project” (for the FrameWorks Institute)
  • Paul Hamlyn Foundation “Framing Criminal Justice in the UK” (for the FrameWorks Institute)
  • National Academy of Sciences, “Reframing the Behavioral and Social Sciences” (for the FrameWorks Institute)
  • UNICEF, “Finding New Frames: A Cultural-Cognitive Approach to Communication” (for the FrameWorks Institute)