Dr. Patricia Lott, Assistant Professor of African American and Africana Studies, is teaching a new course during the Fall of 2018 called “Race and the University.” Lott describes the course as “[involving] digital project in which students will create exhibits on Omeka for their archival research on the history of race and racism at Ursinus.”
This class is a vital necessity to include in the curriculum because it, as Lott discusses, “interrogates how race and institutionalized racism have structured American higher education since the inception of the nation’s first college (Harvard) up to the present. It charts the conflictual forces that shifted higher education from an endeavor exclusively or overwhelmingly dominated by elite white men to one shaped by a more diverse collective that includes, among others, “people of color,” women, the working class, and those who sit at the intersections of those social identities.” The class also dives into the 1960s Black Campus Movement, the founding of Africana Studies, and the conflicts marginalized communities face, especially in the educational sense.
Lott continues to say that “prominent course themes are slaveholding at and by America’s “Ivy League” institutions, the Black Campus Movement, Eurocentrism in curricula, detrimental prejudices about faculty and students of color, affirmative action’s benefits to white students, and race and racism in college athletics.” The class, in addition, examines the “foundational nature” of racism in higher education and the inequities many educational institutions face today.
So far, the class is well-received amongst the students and the campus community. Lott says, “The students are really engaged in the material! They have been struck by how normalized and ubiquitous racialization is and how people have been seduced into seeing race as something that is biological, that resides in our genes and other innate attributes, rather than something that is sociopolitical. They also seem taken aback by how many college and university founders, presidents, trustees, students, funders, alumni, etc. were deeply involved in slaveholding and slave trading.”
Lott hopes students analyze race and racisms origin in American society, culture, and education. She wishes for people to become curious about archival evidence and finding out more “about the institutions at which they may find themselves.”