Ric Sheffield

Antioch College
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00:00:32 - Professor Sheffield introduces himself

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Partial Transcript: My name's Ric Sheffield. I'm from a little town in Ohio, a small rural community called Mt. Vernon.

Segment Synopsis: Prof. Ric Sheffield teaches in the Law and Society program, as well as the Sociology department.

00:06:00 - African and African American scholarship at Kenyon

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Segment Synopsis: Professors who were already teaching courses on African-Americans or Africa met to discuss how they could create a coherent program on the diasporic topic.

00:07:49 - Experience with African American Studies at his undergraduate institution, Case Western Reserve University

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Segment Synopsis: The life-changing power and impact of having faculty that both look like you and reflect your life experiences.

00:09:48 - Process of creating of African and African American Studies (AAAS) program at Kenyon, 1992

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Segment Synopsis: Program was an interdisciplinary model/concentration and allowed for faculty to connect via their similar interests.

00:10:49 - Validating African American Studies in past experiences

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Sheffield reflects upon the importance of taking classes with like-minded students in his undergraduate institution.

00:11:58 - Organizing meetings for the program

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Segment Synopsis: The role of Prof. Ted Mason in creating support for the program, as a result of his experience at past institutions.

00:12:55 - Protocol for adopting new program

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Segment Synopsis: In preparation for proposing new program, administration would review faculty interest, course load, resources (such as funding), and student interest.

00:19:38 - Crossroads faculty seminar

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Segment Synopsis: Kenyon faculty who taught or had a interest in African diaspora subjects met in the summer. Together, they examined race, Black Africa, and descendants of Africans in a global context.

00:21:47 - Faculty intellectual diversity within the Crossroads seminar

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Sheffield explains the diverse intellectual traditions of those within Crossroads, spanning Caribbean religion and Francophone Africa.

00:23:37 - Bringing Crossroads seminar to student population

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Segment Synopsis: Professors want Crossroads to have impact on curriculum and develop a Crossroads course, using African American Studies introductory seminars as a model. Students are exposed to 5-7 new faculty (and their research) in the course.

00:25:58 - Community response to introducing new academic program

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Sheffield recounts his impressions of these responses, mainly positive reception as Kenyon claimed to want to diversify faculty and student body.

00:26:52 - Black Student Union demands of 1969-'70 finally realized

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Segment Synopsis: Black Student Union's (BSU) calls for similar progress in academic diversity realized almost 20 years later.

00:27:25 - Professor Sheffield's thoughts on the slow progress towards curricular and student diversity

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Sheffield reflects on hesitation by academia at large to allow Black faculty and African American curriculum.

00:29:11 - Why was 1992 the year for AAAS program at Kenyon?

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Sheffield sees recognition within academy at large to increase diversity in the 1990s.

00:31:49 - Critical mass of Black faculty at Kenyon

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Segment Synopsis: 1989 had 6 Black faculty members at Kenyon in the fall, allowing for more recognition of the need for changing curriculum.

00:33:58 - Support of white faculty on campus

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Sheffield discusses the importance of Prof. David Suggs' anthropological work in Botswana and historian Clifton Crays' focus in South Africa to the African and African American academic program.

00:34:45 - Curriculum as identity affirming

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Sheffield responds to claims about the empowering effects of African diaspora curriculum. He explains the value of diversity and the need to understand the entire human experience that would then benefit all students, not just Black students.

00:36:01 - Seeing those who look like you

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Sheffield explains the supporting effect of the curriculum on Black students, who are able to see themselves and their experiences reflected in both classroom topics and faculty. Also reflects college's commitment to diversity.

00:37:40 - White students involved in AAAS/African Diaspora Studies program

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Segment Synopsis: White students have more interest in African continent studies rather than African Americans.

00:38:51 - Student interest in the program

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Sheffield speculates on how students may have found out about the program, including outreach work by Prof. Peter Rutkoff through the Kenyon Academic Partnership program and the Kenyon Educational Enrichment Program.

00:40:48 - Current state of the program

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Sheffield speculates that enrollment in the program is declining. Students may enroll in program's classes but not declare concentration. There may be political reasons to not enroll, because may not build career or educational options.

00:42:49 - Discipline not seen as a valid intellectual pursuit

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Sheffield recounts his experience at Case Western where his professor said that Black Studies wouldn't be taken seriously. Some thought it was not a "serious scholarly endeavor."

00:44:23 - Campus opponents may have believed the program has political aims rather than academic ones

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Sheffield speculates that in the 1990s when the program was being introduced, opponents felt that it was a 'made-up' discipline.