Faculty from all schools and departments across UVa were recently invited to participate in the first session of a new teaching development seminar entitled, “Teaching Race at UVa.” The initiative, which exists as a project from the Provost’s Office, intends to support faculty who wish to incorporate content about race into their teaching and research. The program also supports those who have been integrating race in their courses already but would still like to learn more about local history.
“Faculty across the disciplines want to talk about this,” said Kirt von Daacke, an Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Von Daacke is also a professor in the History Department and participated in an advisory capacity for the initiative as it developed over the past year.
“What happened last summer is really challenging, and it’s a wound kind of on everyone’s psyche in Charlottesville and at UVA. And so faculty have been sort of asking, ‘I want to have these conversations, but I don’t know how to,'” he explained.
According to the Provost’s Office, those involved with the Teaching Race at UVa seminar expect all participants to incorporate the content learned into an existing or new course. Sessions will be “place-based” in its focus, with various seminars highlighting the history of early colonial Virginia, the founding of UVa, enslaved laborers at UVa. It will also focus on topics relevant to the history of the general region surrounding the University, namely Emancipation, Reconstruction and Jim Crow, the Civil Rights movement, and struggles for justice and equity by African Americans at UVa and in the greater Charlottesville community.
As the seminar works to “help faculty integrate into their teaching the local history and present realities of race/racism,” the Provost’s Office also plans to connect white supremacy and related University concerns to historical events and struggles.
The Teaching Race at UVa Faculty Development Seminar is based on the Transforming Community Project Faculty Pedagogy Seminar at Emory University, which was offered during the summers of 2007-2009. The project was originally conceived in the wake of incidents on the Emory campus in 2003 and 2004 that brought up issues of race and racism at Emory.
After the white supremacist attacks on UVa and Charlottesville last August, Dr. Jennie Knight, now the Assistant Vice Provost for Faculty Development, felt that an initiative like the one offered at Emory would be valuable at UVa and should begin as soon as possible.
Up to 30 participants in the new seminar will receive $3,000 in research funds to support the creation of courses designed to utilize content derived from the seminar, while another $1,000 will be available to faculty members who submit revised syllabi that include content from the Teaching Race at UVa seminar. The program is currently planned to be offered for at least the next few years.