Dartmouth College’s geography and African and African-American studies programs are offering a new course during the spring term titled “10 Weeks, 10 Professors: #BlackLivesMatter.” The class will reportedly cover the issues of race, inequality, and violence both historically and in the present day.
The Dartmouth, the college’s newspaper, reports about the course:
About 15 Dartmouth professors will teach separate sections of the class from different academic disciplines over the course of the term. 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.
Abigail Neely, a Dartmouth geography professor, said the idea for the class originated in a workshop in which faculty were encouraged to incorporate the 2014 events in Ferguson, Missouri — including the fact that Officer Darren Wilson was not indicted for the shooting of strong-arm robbery suspect Michael Brown — into their courses.
“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,” Neely said.
Similarly, Aimee Bahng, an English professor, told The Dartmouth that incorporating the Ferguson events into her curriculum was necessary in order to create a learning style that extends beyond the classroom. Her class includes a discussion about the issue of race in the United States.
“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.
Anthropology professor Chelsey Kivland – who teaches a course titled “Ethnography of Violence” – said the course allows faculty “to use Ferguson as a starting point for broadening the conversation about the national problems of inequality, race and violence.”
In Kivland’s course, a week is spent covering the topic of police brutality.
History professor Annelise Orleck said that as the #BlackLivesMatter movement gains momentum, the classroom discussion in the new course will then be rooted in the history of urban inequality and policing.
Kevin Gillespie, Dartmouth class of 2015 and the president of the Dartmouth chapter of the NAACP, said the course is exactly what the College needs in order to raise awareness.
“Courses like these are extremely important, and they get us all out of our comfort zones, whether you’re taking the course or not, because people will be talking about it,” Gillespie said.