ATLANTA—Georgia State University’s College of Arts & Sciences has established the Center for Studies on Africa and its Diaspora, a multidisciplinary hub for the exchange of cultural, scientific, economic, policy and humanities knowledge within the university, and with local and global communities and collaborators.
The center will support research and academic initiatives, artistic efforts and public programming, including exhibits, lectures and conferences, and advance policy proposals that target issues of concern to the African diaspora across the university and the broader community.
The center is led by co-directors Jennie Ward-Robinson, special adviser to the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and an expert in global health and multilateral government affairs, and Elizabeth West, professor of English and executive director of the South Atlantic Modern Language Association. The founding members of the center include faculty who represent a wide range of disciplines, including African-American studies, biology, chemistry, English, physics and astronomy, public health and women’s, gender and sexuality studies.
“The need for a center of this focus and aim at Georgia State has been recognized by faculty and students for some time,” Ward-Robinson and West said in a joint statement. “We are honored to be part of the collective body that worked to bring this moment to fruition. We look forward to the work ahead and the impact that the center will make in and beyond our institution’s boundaries.”
The formation of the center addresses one of the key recommendations of Georgia State’s Commission for the Next Generation of Faculty, which was tasked with identifying strategies for the university to address faculty diversity, equity and inclusion. The commission delivered its recommendations in June 2019.
The center’s activities will include supporting innovative scholarship, fellowships and visiting scholars, as well as convening academic gatherings, including lectures, conferences and symposia. Community outreach is also a priority, as is being a resource to the university in its efforts to develop a more diverse faculty.
Among the center’s inaugural events will be a town hall this summer, organized in collaboration with the university’s African Diaspora Student Advocacy Coalition. This newly formed network of chartered student organizations is committed to “empowering and advancing members of the African diasporic community in the student body.”
The center is also planning a monthly series of virtual lectures, webinars and workshops titled “Race and the Role of the Academy in the Post-Awakening World: Candid Conversations towards Education, Equity and Community Engagement.” The series will be open to faculty, staff, students and community stakeholders.
“We are seeing the culmination of years of enthusiastic planning with the launch of the Center for Studies on Africa and its Diaspora,” said Sara Rosen, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “We look forward to opportunities to join our research with community solutions to eliminate disparities and elevate Black lives.”
For more information about the center, visit: https://csad.gsu.edu/.