This pilot project seeks to work collaboratively with faculty throughout campus to develop a humanities-based “think tank” that, through both pedagogy and research, works to make OSU a destination for faculty, postdocs, and students who are invested in critical studies of transnational black citizenship. Through Arts & Humanities division faculty collaborating with faculty in Law, Public Health, Education, the Medical Center, and throughout the College of Arts & Sciences this project is guided by the question: What is blackness? This question is not simply about the study of black people, rather it questions what is blackness and how do you study and teach blackness in the 21st century. It is a critical race studies question that the humanities is well positioned to interrogate, because approaches to answering it must dig deep into what it means to be human; who is allowed to belong; under what circumstances are they granted belonging; and whether membership has limitations.
Humanness, then, is inextricably linked to considering how blackness is imagined and defined in ways that disallow black people full incorporation into the nation. The goals of this think tank are: 1) to help both undergraduate and graduate/professional students recognize the importance of critical race studies for engaging race and difference in disciplines and professional fields outside of the humanities and therefore attract those students to the humanities; 2) to work toward a collaborative production of scholarship between humanities and arts scholars and colleagues in the behavioral and social sciences and professional fields; and 3) to expand the exigency for this project beyond the university, inviting faculty, K-12 teachers, and graduate students throughout the nation to participate in the production of knowledge that will help to conjoin blackness and humanness in the academy and especially in society broadly.