Grab a cup of coffee/tea, relax and invite the muse to come sit with you as you share your
research work in progress, your dream and “what if” projects. Someone out there is waiting to connect with you.
Filed under Uncategorized
Thanks much for setting up the blog. Because of my respect for the place and power of ‘words’, it is good to share thoughts and time with a woman of her WORD!!!
I must say to our group that I especially LOVED the ‘play’ our commencement speaker yesterday, former President Bill Clinton, gave to the impact of the Human Genome Project in transforming the way we ‘see life and define ourselves’, in relationship with one another.
I look forward to participating in conversation with this group on Howard’s aspiration and ascent to a “top ranking research university” in leading the discourse on “A People Seeking Purpose and Identity: divining the self to heal our body, ensure the integrity of our community and stability of our world”. Looking forward…
Georgia M. Dunston
Last week I week I traveled to Tuskegee, Alabama for a site visit with one of the field researchers connected with the divinity school’s study of wellness and wellbeing practices of African American church congregations. Our site researcher, Dr. Wylin Wilson, of the Tuskegee Bioethics Center, reported on two projects that caught my attention, a diabetes support group operating in 27 local churches and a new project, Emotional Emancipation Circles, that directs attention to mental and emotional well being and encourages African American families to embrace practices that nurture and support emotional healing. Dr.Wilson is conducting interviews with participants in these groups as part of our efforts to identify and document effective practices contributing to the spiritual, physical, emotional, psychological and economic well being of congregants and communities. Tuskegee is an economically depressed rural area with boarded up store fronts in the “downtown” area. It is an official “food desert,” with not much to offer in the way of fresh fruit and produce, but it is open country land. However, I saw a glimmer of hope. In one of the few restaurants in town, Tiger Pause, I had the best veggie burger ever! Imagine that! I also learned that one of the churches participating in our study has a community garden that has become quite popular, especially with those who love fresh collard greens. I left Tuskegee feeling inspired and thinking about the importance of engaged scholarship, and translational research. What started as Dean Alton Pollard’s idea for a grant proposal to study effective practices in African American congregational life is quickly becoming a model of engaged scholarship and translational research, an example of Howard University fulfilling its mission of discovering solutions to human problems.
Velma E. Love
There may be funding for a religion and science project of the kind that we talked about at the NHB Brown Bag Lunch back on April 25th. Through a joint initiative of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), grants are being offered for 3-year projects under the grant program named “Science for Seminaries: Integrating Science into Core Theological Education.”
With your input, I would like to draft of a letter for Dean Alton Pollard’s review and signature well in advance of the August 31st deadline for submission of letters of interest. Full proposals, if the School of Divinity is invited to submit one, will be expected by December 15th.
Any ideas and suggestions from you will help tremendously in developing the letter of interest.
I especially need your response to three questions:
1. What role do you see yourself (or other colleagues) playing in a grant project that integrates more science into the School of Divinity’s curriculum and outreach?
2. What topic, focus or “big” science-related question is most suitable for the School of Divinity, given its mission and history as well as its position within the larger history, mission, context, and legacy of Howard University?
3. After the grant project ends, which grant-related activities could the School of Divinity maintain? In other words, what long-term impact would the grant project have on the School of Divinity?
This summer I have been thinking and talking more about creating a program at Howard that would truly be interdisciplinary–stretching across not only Arts and Sciences, but also the other schools, including Divinity, Architecture, and Medicine, among others. As some of you I’ve spoken to already know, it would be focused on Heritage Studies. In some program definitions, “heritage studies” means critically examining the way we preserve, present, and participate in heritage, both officially and unofficially. For me, then, it also entails issues of identity and culture–how do we construct who we are from our past(s)? However, “heritage” also means natural heritage–what we preserve/what’s important to us in terms of place, space, and the natural world. I think it can be a wide open concept that, hopefully, those interested in planning such a program could define as a group, rather than have me sit here and try to cast a net around it.
The other ideas I have for this program, structurally, is that it should reach back to incorporate our own campus middle schoolers + high school students, as well as project forward to include working with master’s candidates. In other words, the idea would be to reach outside of our immediate community and pair up precollegiate students with Howard students, to help show them what is possible, then, in turn, pair up Howard students with more advanced students so they, too, can see a clear trajectory towards heritage careers–whether they seek jobs in schools, museums, national organizations such as the National Park Service, ministries or other areas where a critical comprehension of heritage and its impact would be useful. These are just some beginning thoughts. I’m sure there are many more ideas out there!
Since it’s summer and we’re all probably already engaged in projects and/or off on adventures, I propose meeting during advising week–the week before school starts–on Howard’s main campus, in Douglass Hall where I can get a seminar room. There are already a couple of veteran interdisciplinary folks from Arts and Sciences who are interested in working on this. Does anyone on this blog want to join in what I hope will be a campus-wide effort? It would be wonderful to make sure we have the spiritual as well as other dimensions in the program. If you are interested, would Monday or Tuesday of that week be better for you to meet? (August 19 or 20?) Thanks for letting me know. If you want to talk to me directly, just email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
I feel like the group luddite, taking weeks (ok months) to sign up for a word press account and then to log on and post. Much love to Velma for keeping us motivated… I finally gave up trying to figure out how to post somewhere other than in the comments. I did figure out how to follow. So, progress is being made!
I wish I could answer the questions in Frederick’s post or jump right in and commit to Eleanor’s plan. I hope to be able to do both at some point. For now, I’m looking for a voice, again, and finally having some luck at it. It’s been years since I’ve been actively engaged in a book project. My first was an extension of the dissertation and was filled with the energy of a 20-something year old mind. In recent years, my projects have been long essays, books chapters, or conference papers. All of my book projects have been about editing, not developing an argument for a sustained period. Oh, the challenges of change (and older age). It seems that you can forget how to ride a bike.
What I’m finding, and excited about, these days is how connected most things are (stalled bike rides not withstanding). Wole Soyinka’s Of Africa, the common text for COAS Freshman this fall, made me think of key moments in Divining the Self, which made me think of key moments in the Eloquence of the Scribes, which made me think of The Salt Eaters, which made me think of Divining the Self again! Mind you, none of these texts except Salt Eaters has anything to do with my book project, except tangentially. But I’m having fun seeing is how connected things are one to another.
This week, for example, I’m reading Contemporary African Literature, a 1972 anthology Toni Morrison worked on when she was a textbook editor at Random House’s High School Division. Yes, this is related to the book project. But it’s also related to Yoruba, Akan, and classical African myths. So, the connections continue.
One of my favorite tv shows as a kid was “The A-Team.” There was something appealing about these outcasts who come together to right wrongs. Hannibal’s line at some point in every episode was “I love it when a plan comes together.” I hope by summer’s end, I can say that myself!
Happy second half of 2013!
Your words are encouraging! “Seeing how connected things are” has great value.
What if our leaders, on all levels, could see through that lens? Perhaps the world would be
a very different place.
Thanks for sharing. In solidarity with the freshman class, I am inspired to read Soyinka’s
Out of Africa. I hear that Mercury is in retrograde now and for the next couple of weeks,
so when things get a little crazy I feel as though I have the right to blame it on the planets.
I echo your sentiments and hope that by summer’s end I,too, can say “I love it when a plan comes together!”
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