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HomeArts & CultureBelmont and Fisk Universities Announce Social Justice Collaborative

Belmont and Fisk Universities Announce Social Justice Collaborative

Belmont University and Fisk University announced today the Belmont-Fisk Social Justice Collaborative, a partnership between the universities designed to promote social justice through exposure to civil rights and social justice movements across Middle Tennessee. 

The donor funded collaborative was created to educate, empower and inspire students through a mutual respect for humanity. Designed as a course that students from both Universities will enroll in together, participants will immerse themselves in the state’s civil rights history.  

Belmont University Journalism Professor Dr. Sybril Brown created the course, in partnership with Fisk University Associate Professor and Chair of Behavioral Sciences Dr. Rolande Dathis and Distinguished Associate Professor in the Graduate Program in Social Justice Dr. Ricardo Guthrie.  

Over the course of the semester, enrolled students will visit both campuses, a variety of museums and libraries and will interview social justice advocates across decades. Numerous guest speakers including the Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette, co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and part of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s inner circle, are also slated to participate in the project. The semester will culminate with the creation of a few projects including an e-book, a commemorative website, video vignettes and a pop-up museum digital experience. There are 25 students enrolled in the respective courses. 

As part of the experience, students will travel to Black Mountain, NC for the Ignite Retreat, an immersive experience designed to teach students how to create change in their communities. This trip will be led by Dr. Bernard Turner, associate professor and program director of social entrepreneurship in the Jack C. Massey College of Business. 

Other activities will include The Belmont-Fisk Spring 2023 Hackathon, offering an opportunity for both campus communities to come together and create data-driven solutions based on social evidence. The event will be co-lead by Dr. Dennis Chen, Belmont Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Management and International Business, in partnership with Fisk John Lewis Center for Social Justice Tech/Data Science Fellow, Lena Winfree.  

The fostering and advancement of social justice through this partnership directly supports Belmont’s strategic trajectory to 2030, including the University’s emphasis to embrace hope and inclusive excellence. “Our commitment to reweaving the social fabric through hope and inclusive excellence begins with a thorough and thoughtful examination of the past, reflecting on areas where imbalance and inequality have persisted,” said Dr. Susan West, Executive Vice President for Administration, Chief of Staff and Chair of Belmont’s Diversity Council. “Only with this acknowledgement can we move forward, remaining accountable as we learn along the way.” 

The official launch of the partnership will be celebrated at a co-organized reception on Feb 9. from 3 to 6pm in the Civil Rights Room at the Nashville Public Library. Tours of the Civil Rights Room and the Women’s Voting Rights Exhibit will begin at 3 pm, with a program to follow at 4:30pm. All are invited to attend.  

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