Ever wonder where the University of Virginia’s research dollars are going? Here’s one new initiative: “Teaching Race at UVA.”
The following missive was distributed to UVa faculty by Provost Thomas C. Katsouleas and Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Kerry Abrams:
Faculty from all schools and departments at UVA are invited to participate in the first cohort of a faculty development seminar called “Teaching Race at UVA.” The seminar, sponsored by the Office of the Provost, will provide UVA faculty with an in-depth understanding of the history of race at UVA, in Charlottesville, and in the context of Virginia and the United States more broadly. The goal of this initiative is to equip a cohort of faculty from across UVA to be able to teach in their disciplines effectively in relation to the history and present reality of race and racism both locally and nationally.
All participants will receive $3,000 in research funds, with an additional $1,000 available to those who turn in revised syllabi that incorporate seminar content. These additional funds can be used to support site visits, guest speakers, research projects, or other aspects of the newly developed course. Please see the Call for Applications for more details about the program and for information about how to apply to participate.
The UVa website provides more details about the seminar itself:
All participants will be expected to incorporate at least part of the seminar content into an existing or new course.
The seminar will include the historical periods of early colonial Virginia, the founding of UVA, the history of enslaved laborers here and regionally, Emancipation, Reconstruction and Jim Crow, the Civil Rights movement, and struggles for justice and equity by African Americans at UVA and in Charlottesville. We will connect historical events and struggles with contemporary concerns such as health, educational, and economic disparities, as well as white supremacist discourse and actions and present efforts toward justice and equity. Sessions will include a combination of site visits, presentations by subject matter experts, and discussions with colleagues.
Hmmm… Am I wrong to assume that the only non-politically correct points of view to be presented will be those of white supremacists? Will views of mainstream conservatives and libertarians be explored?
Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but this initiative looks like an effort to inject a social-justice-warrior perspective into a broad cross-section of courses that have nothing to do with race and race relations. I can think of nothing more damaging to the university than this. If the incoming administration wants to alienate a large swath of its alumni base and friends in the legislature, this is just the ticket.
I desperately hope my fears are unfounded. I will endeavor to find out more from UVa.
(Hat tip: Steve Haner)
Update: UVa spokesman Wesley Hester provided the following response to my questions regarding who would teach the courses, how much the initiative would cost, and whether journalists could attend the seminars:
There are currently no comments highlighted.
The seminars are offered as part of UVA’s faculty development programming and will be taught by UVA faculty members and other subject matter experts, primarily scholars of history. The faculty members will offer historical perspectives on race and encourage open dialogue among the seminar participants. The Provost’s Office has not set a total budget yet as planning is ongoing. At this time, we are anticipating seven seminar sessions that range from three hours to half a day in length.
More details about the seminars will be announced as faculty proposals are reviewed and plans are finalized.