Department of African American Studies Receives Ford Grant

April 2, 2007

The Ford Foundation has awarded a $233,000 grant to Syracuse University’s Department of African American Studies (AAS) to support continued development of its curricular focus on gender and environmental justice. Aptly titled “Gender and Environmental Justice,” the project capitalizes on AAS being the only department of its kind in the nation to recognize the importance of environmental justice in its curriculum. The project is co-chaired by two College of Arts and Sciences faculty members: Linda Carty, associate professor and former chair of AAS, and Kishi Animashaun Ducre, an assistant professor in AAS. The Ford Foundation also awarded the college an additional $100,000 to support a postdoctoral program focusing on civic engagement in the arts, public humanities, architecture and the media.

“This generous grant allows us to embrace innovative scholarship and pedagogy in African American and Africana studies, as well as in civic engagement in the arts and humanities,” says Arts and Sciences Dean Cathryn R. Newton. “Both projects present important platforms for rethinking public and individual life in our country.”

According to AAS Chair Micere M. Githae Mugo, the “Gender and Environmental Justice” project complements Chancellor Nancy Cantor’s institutional vision of Scholarship in Action. “It demonstrates AAS’ commitment to civic engagement, in an effort to convert Africana intellectual thought into a tool for social transformation,” says Mugo.

The project encompasses four main initiatives. The first is the “Black Feminism and Environmental Justice” lecture series, starting with lectures in April 2007 by Nellie Hester Bailey, co-founder of the Harlem Tenants Council, and Patricia McFadden, a noted black feminist-scholar. The second initiative, a community-based action research project, begins in summer 2007. The third involves support for collaborative research across campus through AAS’ community extensions with the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library and the Community Folk Art Center. The fourth initiative focuses on a public symposium on environmental health and justice in spring 2008.

Carty, who crafted the proposal and led the team to secure funding from the Ford Foundation, says: “We are grateful that the Ford Foundation saw the value in nurturing the connections between our scholarly engagements, public knowledge and community action. We are excited about the overall project vision and pleased to have this opportunity to work even more closely with the Syracuse community.”

AAS offers students a variety of opportunities for study, research, community involvement and study abroad. The department’s interdisciplinary curriculum enables students to engage, analyze and create knowledge involving African Americans, and make linkages with areas of Latin America, the Caribbean and continental Africa. For more information, visit http://aas.syr.edu.

The College of Arts and Sciences was established in 1870 as SU’s founding college. The college is the home of SU’s new Center for the Public and Collaborative Humanities and of Imagining America, a national consortium of 80 colleges and universities committed to public scholarship in the arts, humanities and design.