By Lincoln DePradine
The University of Windsor (UWindsor) is about to establish a Black Studies Institute (BSI) that it says “will serve as a hub for Black ways of learning, knowing and being’’.
“We’re putting everything together right now,’’ UWindsor’s Dr Natalie Delia Deckard told The Caribbean Camera in an interview on the BSI, which will be launched next year. “We will have classes in place for the fall of 2023.’’
According to UWindsor, the inaugural BSI is “a crucial part’’ of deliberately propelling the university “into the future’’, and enhancing “the university’s research profile’’; and it also will position the University of Windsor “as a centre of excellence in Windsor-Essex and the Detroit area – a region known for its historic importance for Black people in North America’’.
Funding for BSI, says UWindsor, will cover a range of study topics including Black literature and history, and also Black health, education, business and culture.
The BSI’s other objectives include plans to “host an interdisciplinary Black speakers’ series to increase the visibility of Black scholarship from across Canada’’; organize and sponsor “study abroad opportunities, in the United States and Caribbean’’, for students; “lead mentorship programs for Black faculty and students’’; give backing to “institutional initiatives to address anti-Black racism’’; provide support for “co-op placements, internships, and pathways for Black graduates after convocation’’; and “build alumni networks to facilitate student career placements, the building of an institute endowment, and a national presence’’.
A recruitment drive began last month to hire 12 Black scholars, across disciplines, for the BSI.
The screening and hiring of BSO staff will continue over the next several months and it’s designed “to make sure that we’re doing this appropriately and comprehensively’’, said Deckard, founding-director of the BSI.
Current students and faculty are anticipating the inauguration of the Black Studies Institute, said Deckard, who holds a PhD. in sociology.
“Everyone is super excited,’’ she said. “We have an extremely significant population of Black students at the University of Windsor, made up of first-generation immigrants from the Anglophone Caribbean who are largely coming from the GTA. We also have both international and Canada-born continental African students; African-American students, and Black Canadian students who are the descendants of freedom-seekers who came to Canada via the Underground Railroad.’’
The BSI program, Deckard further explained, will look at “how we’re talking to our students that are of Afro-Canadian descent and where they come from, their stories and their family history and honouring that’’; and, as well, “giving our students a real world view of us as a people’’.
She argued that “Windsor’s position as a hub of global communities and histories demands not only an attention to the mitigation of anti-Black racism, but a mandate to Black excellence’’.
Deckard and UWindsor believe that the Black Studies Institute is “poised to play a significant role in joining the Canadian Black Diaspora to that of the Caribbean, the United States and Latin America’’.
For more information on the University of Windsor’s Black Studies Institute, visit https://www.uwindsor.ca/blackstudies/303/black-studies-institute; or, contact Natalie.DeliaDeckard@uwindsor.ca