Spence Asks All Faculty To Discuss AWAREness

Dean of Faculty A. Michael Spence has asked faculty members to incorporate a discussion of racial awareness into their classes during a week of College-sponsored events focusing on this theme.

In a letter dated last week, Spence said that Actively Working Against Racism and Ethnocentrism (AWARE) week, to be held later this month, should be a broad-ranging examination of race relations that extends beyond panels and workshops.

"We hope that students, faculty and staff in the College use available opportunities outside the AWARE week agenda--staff meetings, senior common rooms, table talks, classroom discussions--to join in this community effort by holding an activity, lecture or discussion adressing some aspect of racism or ethnocentrism," Spence wrote.

"Our desire is that the entire community will both collectively and individually participate in the process of developing awareness and responding to theseimportant concerns," the letter continued.

This is the first year that the College hassponsored AWARE week. A student sub-committee ofthe Committee on Race Relations and Assistant Deanfor Race Relations and Minority Affairs HildaHernandez-Gravelle organized the events, whichinclude speakers, panels and workshops.

"It would be useful to incorporate discussionsof AWARE [into the curriculum]," saidHernandez-Gravelle. But she said individualprofessors should decide how to address the topic.

Assistant Professor of History Brian Balogh,who teaches a course on modern America, said hewould try to draw in the themes, but notnecessarily as a result of the letter. Balogh saidhe has planned a lecture called "From Brown toBirmingham" and also will show Eyes on thePrize, a public broadcasting series on theCivil Rights movement.

"I can't claim that I'm doing this exclusivelybecause of AWARE," Balogh said, adding that he hadshown the films last year as well. "I like tothink of myself as being aware for more than aweek."

Trumbull Professor of American History DonaldFleming said of the issues brought up by theletter, "I think some of my lectures will bear onthat, but it's just an accident."

But Assistant Professor of Government JenniferWidner, teaching at Harvard for the first timethis year, said her initial reaction was that"given the kinds of classes I teach, there wouldbe the opportunity [to include the themes]."Widner, who studies African government, said shehad not yet decided on the format of herdiscussion.

And Assistant Professor of Afro-AmericanStudies David W. Blight said his courses focus onthe issues raised by AWARE week all the time. But,he said, "I will urge the students to carry theawareness beyond my class.