Africana Studies in the Community

The Africana Studies Center is focused as a think tank and training center for arts and cultural education, meaning, and action. Programming efforts explore the role of artist as citizen in both the local and global arenas. Addressing the ideologies and stereotypes that define culture and social citizenry is critical to this effort.

In order to do so, we pose these questions:

  • How can artists best contribute to society and their various communities?
  • How does artistic competence ensure substantive contributions in today's world? Where, how, and why are trained artists really working professionals?

With our theme of Artists as Citizens in mind, the Berklee Africana Studies Center hosts a Faculty Learning Community, cosponsored by the Office of Faculty Development. This community is an engaging forum for collaboration on, and ongoing exchange of, ideas related to music and society initiatives at Berklee, in Boston, and beyond. Visiting artists and community leaders are invited to speak with the learning community and explore together how community partnerships become reality. This learning community shares its insights and findings with the Berklee community at the end of each academic year.

Past guests have included:

  • Eric Jackson, announcer, WGBH
  • Anthony King, director, Boston Children's Choir
  • Bob Blumenthal, historian, critic, writer
  • Fred Taylor, jazz musician
  • Ingrid Mondon, Quincy Jones Professor of African American Music, Harvard University
  • Valerie Robertson, president, Roxbury Community College
  • John Barros, chief of Economic Development, Mayor's office
  • San San Wong, senior program director of Arts and Culture, Barr Foundation
  • Dr. Richard Harris, educator, founder and director of Renaissance Charter Schools
  • Other national visiting artists: Najee, Tuck and Patty, Kim Burrell, Tavis Smiley, Patrice Rushen, Nona Hendryx

Our practices in music, the arts, and education necessitate that we meet the demands of our complex, interwoven world with practical, relevant, and meaningful approaches. We consider important questions that are not posed elsewhere, such as how scholars and artists can bring their professional experience to meet these challenges.