Race, Ethnicity & Culture at the University of Iowa: Values-Enacted Department Design
I am excited for this opportunity to draw on HuMetrics frameworks as I collaborate with colleagues, students and deans in forming a new department of Race, Ethnicity & Culture (REC) at the University of Iowa. Our new department will house several existing units on campus: Latinx Studies, American Studies/Sports Studies and Native American and Indigenous Studies. Our aim in REC is to study public life, creativity and community resilience across racial-ethnic cultures in the Americas. Along with my co-PI Dr. Stephen Warren (professor of history, Native American and Indigenous studies and American studies at Iowa), I will be working to layer values-based practices into our new department’s governance, curriculum and culture.
Our hope is that HuMetrics (and other fellows’ expertise) might help us to partner with our college of liberal arts and sciences as we grapple with the history and multiple meanings of value at the university. This term refers simultaneously — and cumbersomely — to finance, ethics, and diverse stories that communities tell about justice and opportunity. We ask: whose value and values have been centered at predominantly white institutions such as Iowa? How can we work within, against and beyond this legacy to open up possibilities for a broad and deep array of creative and critical projects in REC? And, how can we build on recent, vibrant digital story projects with our students to integrate values-enacted listening and storytelling into departmental events, engagement and teaching?
Naomi Greyser is associate professor of English, American Studies and Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa, where she is also executive director of POROI, Iowa’s Project on Rhetoric of Inquiry. Greyser writes about the emotional dimensions of human expression in art, language and daily life. Her first book, On Sympathetic Grounds: Race, Gender and Affective Geographies in Nineteenth-Century North America, came out at Oxford in 2017. Her scholarship has also appeared, among other venues, in American Literature, American Quarterly, Feminist Studies, and MELUS: Multiethnic Literatures in the U.S. Amidst managing pandemic parenting and teaching, Greyser is at work on two interlinked book projects: Blocked: Writing, Race & Gender at the University and Un/Blocked: How Academics Write. Like a creative lab, idea-kitchen or workshop, Un/Blocked offers tools, intellectual ingredients and practices for researchers to work and play with. This book integrates research in university studies and affect studies with practices Greyser has developed in her work with the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, where she is head writing coach.