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Here’s a little positivity.

This spring, Dartmouth College will offer a new and necessary #BlackLivesMatter course that will focus on race, violence, disenfranchisement, and inequality in African-American history.

According to The Dartmouth, the school’s student newspaper, about 15 of the university’s professors will teach separate sections of the class, “10 Weeks, 10 Professors: #BlackLivesMatter,” from different academic disciplines. 

Professors teaching this course come from over 10 academic departments and programs, including anthropology, history, women’s and gender studies, mathematics and English, among others,” the newspaper writes.

Brought forth by the geography and African-American studies programs at Dartmouth, the idea was sparked by a Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning workshop that urged faculty to focus on the events surrounding the death of Ferguson, Mo. teenager Michael Brown Jr. at the hands of a white police officer.

“We just thought that it might be interesting and innovative and exciting to have a course that’s dedicated to this, whereas lots of other people are incorporating it into other courses,” geography professor Abigail Neely said.

Other professors expressed why parsing through the details of Brown’s death and Darren Wilson’s subsequent non-indictment are necessary when understanding race in America.

From The Dartmouth:

English professor Aimee Bahng said when she was writing the syllabi for her winter term courses, she felt it was imperative that she incorporate the events into her curriculum.

Bahng said that by teaching the new course, the faculty hope to create a culture of learning that goes beyond the classroom and cultivate a discussion amongst scholars about questions of race in America. The course will approach this and other social issues from a number of different disciplines, which will give students who take the course the opportunity to participate in interdisciplinary discussions firsthand, Bahng said.

“We hope students will be able to understand that Ferguson is not just an event in 2014, but something that’s tethered in time to a long history and still-emerging ideas about race in the U.S. and how policing works in an age of social media and distributed surveillance,” Bahng said.


Geography department chair Susanne Freidberg said that the interdisciplinary structure should have broad appeal and provide a way for students to approach an issue that might seem to be only sociological or political, and see that there are also things to be learned about it from other viewpoints, such as from a religious or geographical perspective.

“I hope that for the students it will provide an opportunity to learn and talk about things that might seem very far away from Dartmouth but affect a lot of people in the country, and to do so with a lot of different professors,” she said.

For more information on the new program (including a course on Ethnography of Violence taught by anthropology professor Chelsey Kivland), click here.

SOURCE: The Dartmouth | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

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