Purdue Liberal Arts receives $445,000 dollars in National Endowment for the Humanities awards

August 17, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Two Purdue University professors from the Department of History received a total of nearly $500,000 for awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

"These awards advance opportunities for both higher education scholars and high school educators to focus on black studies while incorporating digital technology," said David Reingold, the Justin S. Morrill Dean of Liberal Arts. "Both projects reflect the particular relevance of the opportunity at Purdue to leverage our liberal arts strengths as enhanced by the evolution of digital technologies to gain a better understanding of human behavior. Each of these projects reaches across disciplines to create a greater appreciation for contemporary scholarship in the humanities that has real world application."

Kim Gallon, an assistant professor of history, received $245,299 for "Space and Place in Africana/Black Studies: An Institute on Spatial Humanities Theories, Methods and Practice for Africana/Black Studies Scholars," and Cornelius "Neil" Bynum, an associate professor of history, received $200,000 for "From Plessy to Brown: The African American Freedom Struggle in the Twentieth Century."

For Gallon's grant, the African American Studies & Research Center at Purdue and GIS Services at Purdue Libraries will host the Institute. In the summer of 2016, 20 early and mid-career Africana or black studies scholars, graduate students and librarians will be selected to participate in the program to learn more about Africana and black studies and the spatial humanities.  Participants also will explore key topics in spatial humanities and will be introduced to a breadth of geospatial technologies. 

"The spatial humanities is rooted in geospatial technologies' capacity for helping us gain deeper insight into how geographic and conceptual space impact human behavior and human culture," Gallon said. "For example, I am interested in using geospatial methods and technologies to better understand how black newspapers' geospatial dimensions shaped people's identities in Africa and the African Diaspora."

The 2017 follow-up symposium will take place at Hamilton College, where the co-principal investigator is Angel David Nieves, associate professor of Africana Studies and co-director of the Digital Humanities Initiative. The African American Studies & Research Center at Purdue also will support the symposium.

Gallon is the founder and director of the Black Press Research Collective and is an ongoing visiting scholar at the Center for Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Bynum also is collaborating with Chrystal Johnson, an associate professor of social studies education in Purdue's College of Education. Both will direct the summer institute, which is a four-week program designed to help high school teachers incorporate African American history and culture into their classrooms by blending African American history and literature, geospatial information systems and digital humanities.

"By taking advantage of the vast potential of both GIS and digital humanities to improve information literacy, this institute will help teachers influence students' critical thinking skills and reading comprehension in ways that align with the recommendations of both the National Council of Teachers of English's 21st Century Curriculum and the National Council for Social Studies' 21st Century Skills," Bynum said.

The goal is to expose teachers to subject matter experts to help them develop more extensive knowledge of the African American freedom struggle in the 20th century and improve program participants' understanding of GIS and digital humanities as teaching tools, said Bynum, who specializes in 20th century African American history and is the author of "A. Philip Randolph and the Struggle for Civil Rights." 

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources: David Reingold, reingold@purdue.edu

Kim Gallon, kgallon@purdue.edu

Cornelius Bynum, bynum@purdue.edu 

Related websites:

College of Liberal Arts

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