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Fall 2020


All courses have a doctoral-level reading load.
Participants are expected to come prepared to engage deeply with the text and the classroom community each week.

Short Course 1: 
Black Intellectual Thought in Education: Theory and Praxis
Dr. Danny B. Martin

Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago

October 2- October 30

Fridays 1-3 PM

This doctoral short course explores Black intellectual thought in education, focusing on how Black people have imagined and framed the meanings, purposes, goals, and practices of education.

The course readings and materials (in the full syllabus) will offer a blend of biographical and historical analyses. A biographical-historical approach will allow us to recover the perspectives of key individuals whose thinking is often ignored or minimized in contemporary discussions of education (e.g., Carter G. Woodson, W.E.B. DuBois, Alain Locke, Booker T. Washington, Anna Julia Cooper, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Septima Clark, Edgar Epps, Mary McLeod Bethune, Barbara Sizemore, Asa Hilliard, bell hooks, Joyce King, Beverly Gordon, Janice Hale, Molefi K. Asante, William Watkins, James Baldwin, Malcolm X, etc.). This approach will also allow us to consider dialectics between individual perspectives and the prevailing social, structural-systemic, political, and economic conditions of the day. We will discuss the trajectories of these perspectives in relation to each other, and their relationships to and implications for contemporary discussions of education.

We will also cover big ideas that extend beyond individuals (e.g., Afrocentrism, pan-Africanism). Dominant themes in the readings will include education for freedom, education for liberation, and racial uplift. Seminar participants will discuss the historical meanings of these themes, what they mean contemporarily, and what they might mean in Black imaginations about the future.

Note: This course focuses on what Black people think about education. However, we live in a relational world. Conversations and ideas rooted in Black intellectual thought have far-reaching implications within and beyond Black populations. However, participants are asked to refrain from displacing or minimizing the thinking and experiences of Black people or reinterpreting Black experiences and intellectual thought in terms of dominant white racial frames (Feagin, 2009) and white logics (Zuberi & Bonilla-Silva, 2008) that are often antithetical to Black freedom, Black liberation, and Black racial uplift. (Enrollment: 15 max)

Book Bundle:

  • Grant, C. A., Brown, K. D., & Brown, A. L. (2015). Black intellectual thought in education: the missing traditions of Anna Julia Cooper, Carter G. Woodson, and Alain Leroy Locke. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Johnson, K.A., Pitre, A., & Johnson, K.L. (Eds.). (2014). African American women educators: A critical examination of their pedagogies, educational ideas, and activism from the nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • King, J., & Swartz, E.S. (2016). The Afrocentric praxis of teaching for freedom. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Rickford, R. (2016). We are an African people: Independent education, black power, and the radical imagination. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  • Williams, H.A. (2005). Self-taught: African American education in slavery and freedom. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 
  • Woodson, C. G. (1933). Mis-education of the Negro. Washington, DC: The Associated Publishers.


Short Course 2:  
The Baltimore Algebra Project as Abolitionist Practice
Jay Gillen

Activist in the City of Baltimore

October 23-November 20

Fridays 9-11 AM

In this short course, one version of abolitionist education as practiced by a mostly Black-youth operated collective over more than two decades will be explored. Participants will rethink the role of schooling in students’ lives and reflect on an insurgent practice rooted in the Black freedom struggle through a five-session study of the instructor’s book, The Power in the Room: Radical Education Through Youth Organizing and Employment. Youth members and alumni of the Baltimore Algebra Project will participate in several sessions. (Enrollment: 20 max)

An outline of the sessions is provided below:

Session 1: Lessons from Mississippi for the plantations of today’s schools

Session 2: Young people constructing their own learning relationships, in and out of school.

Session 3: Reparations and indigenous authority.

Session 4: Teaching young people not to defer to standard academic measurements, and why.

Session 5: In whose hands are the levers of power?

Book Bundle:

  • Gillen, J. (2019). The power in the room: Radical education through youth organizing and employment. Beacon Press.
  • Moses, R., & Cobb, C. E. (2002). Radical equations: Civil rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project. Beacon Press.


Short Course 3: 
Learning Racism, Learning Anti-racism
Dr. Niral Shah

Assistant Professor, the University of Washington at Seattle

November 10-December 8

Tuesdays 7-9 PM

In recent months, led by the Movement for Black Lives and other justice-focused organizations, calls for racial justice and interest in “anti-racism” have flooded mainstream discourse in an unprecedented way. In this course, we’ll collectively attempt to think about anti-racist practice as a problem of teaching and learning. Together, we will explore the question: how do people learn anti-racism? To that end, we will draw on theoretical ideas about learning to analyze memoirs by BIPOC and white activists, as well as our personal life arcs towards anti-racist practice. (Enrollment: 20 max)

Book Bundle:

  • Leonardo, Z. (2013). Race frameworks: A multidimensional theory of racism and education. Teachers College Press.
  • Mills, C. W. (2014). The racial contract. Cornell University Press.
  • Shakur, A. (2020). Assata: an autobiography. Chicago Review Press.

Winter 2021

Sketching the Scope and Structure of a Racial Justice Knowledge Base/Examining the Political and Ethical Dimensions of Design
Drs. Pamela Moss, James Hammond, & Maisie Gholson

Winter Term

Day & Time TBD

In the Winter 2021 term, there will be an opportunity to work with Drs. Pamela Moss, J. W. Hammond, and Maisie Gholson to support development of a living digital “knowledge base” focused on scholarship and related resources on racial justice in education—and to examine the political and ethical consequences of different knowledge base design choices. We will begin by focusing on work by established scholars in racial justice in education and, where possible, inviting them to meet with us to advise on the content and organization of the knowledge base. Course activities will support conversations about the scope and conceptual organization (or “structure”) of a racial justice in education knowledge base—with an emphasis on the ethics and politics of such design considerations. Because the quality of any knowledge base depends, in part, on how it is developed, we plan to collaborate with students to document our work together as a contribution to that effort. RJSI participants may sign up for between one and three credits, with responsibilities to be negotiated as plans for the course develop. Prior participation in the Race and Social Justice Institute (in 2019 or 2020) or commensurate experience  is a prerequisite.