Broad perspectives on the world, diverse cultures and traditions, and unfamiliar and challenging ways of thinking are the bedrock of a liberal arts and sciences education. Within Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, faculty continue to craft and reimagine curricula across disciplines to bring new and powerful lenses for understanding national and global societies.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are priorities of all College programs: ensuring that each student feels welcomed and a sense of belonging; that subjects are presented wholly and with proper context; and that our teaching models the best practices for reaching all undergraduates. At the same time, our faculty continue to build upon and share scholarly expertise around diversity, equity and inclusion — the study of literature and the arts, the examination of social systems and policy outcomes, and deconstruction of the effects of human difference in our world.

Public Health Studies faculty launch H.E.R. Lab

Associate Professor Stephanie Baker and Assistant Professor Yanica Faustin founded the Health Equity and Racism (H.E.R.) Lab this spring, creating a campus hub for research to advance the body of knowledge that shows racism as the root cause of health inequities and use antiracist strategies to implement solutions.

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Three areas of focus will comprise the H.E.R. Lab’s work: research, capacity building and advocacy/action. The lab’s research will investigate for better understanding of and solutions for the role racism plays in health inequity. Capacity building will focus on increasing the collective capacity to understand the causes of racial health inequity through collaborative efforts. The advocacy/action piece will turn the lab’s research and capacity-building work into meaningful action.

The lab will also be a place of valuable learning for students. Baker and Faustin will recruit a select group of passionate students to collaborate and contribute individual research. The H.E.R. Lab’s first cohort included Deena Elrefai ‘21, Kiara Hunter ‘21, Min Stanwyck ‘21, Mia Wilson ’21, Victoria Colbeck ‘22, Nyla Rivers ’22 and Queen Assata Stephens ’22.

Team members will take an antiracist approach to their research and plan to use their findings as an organizing tool to advocate and act for a more equitable society.

Human Service Studies, Honors Fellows support community with Power and Place Collaborative

Human Service Studies seniors and sophomore Honors Fellows worked with community organizations to collect more than a dozen oral histories of Alamance County’s Black changemakers in fall 2020.

The Power and Place Collaborative is a partnership between Elon University, the African American Cultural Arts and History Museum, the K.I.N.G. Academy and Burlington’s Mayco Bigelow Community Center.

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The project began in the Honors seminar Place and Place-making taught by Assistant Professor of Geography Sandy Marshall and Associate Professor and Director of Design Thinking Danielle Lake. Teaming sophomores with seniors in Assistant Professor of Human Service Studies Vanessa Drew-Branch’s senior seminar, teams of students interviewed Alamance County residents about their experiences during segregation and desegregation from the 1950s to the present.

The first collaboration emphasized east Burlington’s community centers, events and influencers. Their oral histories — from the sense of pride and community around Burlington’s North Park and local celebrations to tension-fraught integration of youth sports teams to moments of violence and trauma — were collected and shared in a series of videos shown in late fall.

The partnership continued in 2021 with a spring speaker and workshop series. More oral history projects are planned for fall 2021.

Prudence Layne founds The CoRE series to address local issues

Through a series of more than a dozen panel discussions with local, state and community leaders, Associate Professor of English Prudence Layne fostered a space for the Elon and Alamance County communities to discuss crucial aspects of racial inequity.

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The CoRE: Conversations on Race and Equity began in August and continued into spring 2021, hosting law enforcement from across North Carolina, local and state elected officials, community and education leaders, and area social justice advocates. Discussions ranged in topic from law enforcement policy and reform to creating economic equity to health disparities exacerbated by the pandemic.

Spurred by the high-profile killings of Black Americans by law enforcement — George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery among them — Layne used her expertise in criminal justice and local connections to gather the community for vital conversations.

The breadth of topics and variety of voices amplified in the discussions reflected both the pervasiveness of racism in society and the necessity for profound action to end it.

Kirstin Ringelberg co-edits “Journal of Visual Culture’s” first transgender art issue

Professor of Art History Kirstin Ringelberg co-edited a special edition of the “Journal of Visual Culture” dedicated to transgender art. The issue analyzed historical photographs, film, paintings, sculpture and other subjects viewing art through the prisms of visibility, cultural violence, belonging and complex variations of gender nonconformity.

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Ringelberg pitched the idea for an issue about transgender art several years ago after co-chairing the College Art Association’s first panel on the subject. With the journal, Ringelberg aimed to challenge the idea that being transgender or nonbinary is something new, rather that variations in gender identity have existed throughout human history. Journal founder Marquard Smith said the breadth of ideas in the issue will define discussion of and engagement with transgender art and visual culture for years to come.