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Posted 07.28.06

Wesleyan to Host Summer Institute on U.S. Citizenship, Race

Immigration, race and the history of U.S. citizenship are just a few of the topics that will be discussed during a summer institute presented by the Center for African American Studies for secondary school teachers from Aug. 7-10.

“Race and Membership: A History of United States Citizenship,” has pre-registered more than 20 social studies teachers, most hailing from Connecticut. The four-day institute is open to all secondary school educators (grades six through 12), support staff, curriculum specialists and school librarians.

The institute aims to foster a sustained and in-depth discussion among the participants about how to teach United States history, how to bring many different racial groups into the historical narrative, and how to connect historical issues to contemporary problems in Connecticut’s secondary school curriculum. Last year, the institute focused on the Civil Rights Movement.

Participants will examine some of the most recent scholarship on the history of several different racial groups, including Blacks, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanics. With its focus on the theme of citizenship, the Institute will draw connections between historical debates about what it means to be American, how membership in the nation has been regulated, and contemporary debates about immigration and Native sovereignty rights.

"The summer institutes are so much fun for the Wesleyan faculty,” says Renee Romano, associate professor of History, African American Studies and American Studies and the institute’s director. “The teachers we work with are so dedicated and engaged and they are just a joy to work with."

The following Wesleyan faculty members are participating in this summer’s institute: Demetrius Eudell, associate professor of History and African American Studies, Gayle Pemberton, professor of English, African American Studies and American Studies, Melanye Price, assistant professor of government, Kehaulani Kauanui, assistant professor of American Studies and Anthropology and Romano.

Besides engaging in activities and discussion with scholars, participants will also be split into four curriculum development groups to translate content into usable classroom lesson plans.

"It's helpful to meet with teachers from different school districts and to discuss what effective materials and techniques are being used in their classroom," says institute participant Doris Duggins, an eighth grade teacher of U.S. History at Silas Deane Middle School in Wethersfield, Conn. "The institute affords me the opportunity to absorb information in the hopes of continually improving myself as a teacher."

Romano says it is particularly important to explore the history of U.S. citizenship laws and practices given the current political debates about immigration, border control, and how the nation should deal with illegal immigrants.

“This institute will ask what it means to be a full member of the state, how the United States government has sought to control, which people can be considered a member of the nation, and how groups that have been excluded from membership or who have faced restrictions on full citizenship rights have fought for inclusion," Romano says.

“Race and Membership: The History and Politics of United States Citizenship” is funded by Humanities in the Schools, a program of the Connecticut Humanities Council, the We The People initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities and Wesleyan University.

For more information about the Summer Institute, please contact Professor Renee Romano at rromano@wesleyan.edu or 860-685-3579.

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations