Webster University to Explore Race, Racism and Antiracism in Art, Education and Psychology

Students at Webster University have two new opportunities to explore how inherent biases, racism, and antiracist practice impacts the art, educational and social services professions. This fall, students can take a new class in the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts that looks at antiracist practices in the arts. Next spring, a new certificate program will be offered in the School of Education that examines race and racism in education and psychology.

“These two new courses are a natural growth from Webster’s work in addressing inequity, diversity and inclusion in multiple areas of study,” said Webster University Chief Diversity Officer Vincent C. Flewellen. “Acts of racism are not just overt acts of hate or violence, but include implicit biases and slights, such as ignoring the contributions a person has made to the arts or sciences because they look different than those in power. These biases have had an oversized impact on specific fields because they can become institutionalized and adapted as a norm, and often don’t get challenged as a result.”

The Antiracist Artist

Starting this fall, the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts will offer the class “The Antiracist Artist,” which will be taught by numerous artists during the semester. Guest artists include:

  • Brian Owens, a singer, songwriter and dedicated community activist;
  • Ron Himes, artistic director at The Black Rep;
  • Mary Lamboley, a visual artist;
  • Kwofe Coleman, managing director of The Muny;
  • Joan Lipkin, artistic director of That Uppity Theatre Company;
  • Kirven Douthit-Boyd, co-artistic director of dance of COCA;
  • Phil Chan, a ballet dancer and author of “Final Bow for Yellowface;”
  • Yvonne Osei, a visual artist;
  • Heather Himes, a dancer and choreographer.

Each guest lecturer will provide a different perspective about racism in their fields of art and discuss what they have done to counter those biases. During the course, students will work on developing their own antiracist artistic statement and/or developing artwork that captures their antiracist philosophy for a final performance/exhibition at the end of the class.

Race and Racism in Education and Psychology

In the spring, the School of Education will offer the Graduate Certificate “Race and Racism in Education and Psychology.” This program focuses on race, racism and antiracism in educational settings and social service professions. It is designed for educators in the K-12 setting, college and university instructors, K-12 administrators, non-profit administrators, counselors, spiritual or religious leaders, government employees and other interested in topics of equity.

“The program was designed to help those already in the field to develop an awareness of historical oppression and structural racism, develop an understanding of how radicalized policies in education created and maintain educational disparities, and understand race as a social construct with real-life consequences,” said Jameca Woody Cooper, a professor in the School of Education and the director of this new program. “By understanding how racism is perpetuated in these systems, it will give the students the knowledge and tools on how to identify issues and apply solutions.”

Earlier this year, Flewellen teamed up with Marshaun Warren, director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Belleville Township High School District 201, to develop the class “Social Justice and Inclusive Learning,” a three-credit-hour course in the School of Education to help educators increase culturally proficient instruction. The academic focus of that course is to examine how cultural factors contribute to the academic success of elementary, middle and high school students. It was offered during the summer and will be offered again during Webster’s Fall 2 term, Oct. 17 to Dec. 18.

To learn more about Webster University’s programs, or to apply, visit webster.edu.

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