30th Anniversary Symposium Will Explore 'African-American and African Studies: At Work in the World'

March 30, 2011 — The Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a symposium April 7-9 which will explore a range of topics, including education, labor and economics, migration, bio-genetics, sexuality, the African diaspora and ideas of kinship.

The symposium, "African-American and African Studies: At Work in the World," will be held in the auditorium of the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature and Culture in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. Free and open to the public, the event will include lectures and panel discussions, along with musical and dance performances. The dedication of the Catherine Foster Memorial Site and reception will be held on the South Lawn April 8.

"While commemorating three decades of the Woodson Institute's dedication to exceptional scholarship, research and teaching, the symposium provides us an occasion to explore the impact of African-American and African Studies on the state of U.S. higher education, as well as the broader reach of these fields within the global community," said English professor Deborah McDowell, the center's director since 2007.

Participants will include scholars from around the country, in addition to U.Va. faculty and Woodson Institute fellows.

"We are pleased that many of our former and current students, fellows and faculty affiliates are coming together, joining an impressive array of participants to review our past and to consider our future," McDowell said. "Over the years, we've had an impressive record of fellows moving into academic appointments here and elsewhere." They have also produced award-winning research and publications, she said.

The Woodson Institute, an interdisciplinary teaching and research center in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, was established in 1981 in response to student and faculty requests for a more coherent African-American and African Studies program and a more aggressive program of minority recruitment at the University.

The institute, founded and directed by the late Armstead Robinson, is named after Carter Woodson, the Virginia-born and Harvard-educated founder of African and African-American Studies, who also inaugurated Black History Week (now Black History Month).

In addition to overseeing undergraduate majors and minors, the Woodson Institute sponsors pre- and postdoctoral fellowships and a visiting scholars program. The fellowship program, chaired by Marlon Ross, an English professor, selects scholars working in the humanities and social sciences for two-year pre- and post-doctoral fellowships. The program is intended to facilitate the completion of dissertations or manuscripts in African-American and African Studies and related fields. About 150 scholars have benefited from the fellowships.

Check the Woodson website for the symposium's complete schedule and lineup of speakers.

— By Anne Bromley

Media Contact

Anne E. Bromley

University News Associate Office of University Communications