Friday, February 6, 2015

Continuing the Conversation of #BlackLivesMatter

How does one talk about the complex subjects of race, structural inequality, and violence? Especially in an academic setting.  Well, Dartmouth College is offering a course this spring entitled "10 Weeks, 10 Professors: #BlackLivesMatter" where faculty from anthropology, history, English, gender and women's studies, and mathematics (just to name a few) have come together to educate students on the modern and historical contexts of this movement.  Its creation was sparked after Rev. Starsky Wilson, co-chairman of the Ferguson Commission in Missouri, spoke to faculty about the importance of teaching Ferguson. Abigail Neely, an assistant professor of geography at Dartmouth, beautifully spoke about how this course is truly interdisciplinary, much better than myself. She noted that "its designed to transgress the boundaries between disciplines in an effort to do some really deep, sustained critical thinking about some of the most important issues in the country and world at this moment" (CNN, 2015). The development of an interdisciplinary course specifically on this movement will provide students a way to view an issue from multiple perspectives while incorporating those many views into outside conversation and future activism. Isn't that what interdisciplinary is all about? Some topics may include the history of racial inequality in the U.S.,  boundaries people of color face on a social, economical, and political level, and how the media has portrayed these events.  All of these subjects merge together to create the larger issue in focus.

What I admire about Dartmouth's effort is the understanding that #BlackLivesMatter is a complex subject that needs to be talked about.  The conversation shouldn't end because the media coverage on Ferguson has.  Silence will not create change.  This course has the potential to change perspective, encourage critical thinking, and provide interdisciplinary discussion in and outside of the classroom. And it is based on a topic so modern that has affected the lives of college aged people in some personal way. I hope students at Dartmouth see how race, structural inequality, and violence is so deeply rooted in America's foundation like I have through my studies.

Another takeaway I hope others find is the importance of #BlackLivesMatter.  Some have said: What about all lives? It is true that all lives matter but it is also true that not all lives have been understood to matter, making it important to name the lives that have not mattered (historically) and are struggling to matter in a way they deserve.  That is way the creation of this course is important to the future of interdisciplinary education and racial equality in America.

If you need me, I'll be daydreaming of this course.

What are your thoughts and ideas?


  1. Wow-- I am SO grateful that you drew my attention to this. I will definitely go read more about that course. I would love to take that, frankly. Makes me wonder what kinds of topical things like that we could do at PSU. Just phenomenal. Makes you think about a college education in a whole new way when you think about team teaching, and about course topics that can be adjusted and developed to quickly address key current events. Really, really exciting ideas here. Bet the course will be amazing.

  2. ...and please get your posts in on time!

  3. That is such a wonderful course! It is important to draw attention to the issue of inequality because it is something the world faces on a daily basis. It is a great way how to integrate different disciplines in order to better understand this issue and especially in America.

  4. This is super cool and such a great course idea! I wish PSU offered something like this because I would definitely take a peak at it. It's also really interesting that they're having multiple professors come in to teach the course. This is truly integrated, especially if they all work together to come up with a common ground of what they teach.

    When I was attending high school I had a class that had two teachers; one history and the other English. It was really helpful to have two teachers of different fields in once class room. It made conversations more intriguing and adding a different depth to topics.

    Glad to hear colleges are starting to do this too!

  5. This course sounds so insanely wonderful. I think that what I enjoy most about this, is that an institution of higher learning is creating an educational environment to explore the deep-set issues surrounding this revolutionary event. It is unfortunate that is seems (to me at least) that the only time topics such as these are discussed are on embarrassingly awful Facebook posts or by warring news stations. I wish more colleges would take the same initiative to create courses like these! Dartmouth is certainly creating a catalyst for positive change in the country. Lets hope other institutions keep it going!!