Dr. Buckridge and Dr. Weber
How did the two of you come together for this sequence, and how do you see your academic backgrounds complementing one another for this sequence topic?
We are both “Caribbean people”: Steeve is Jamaican by birth, John by his adopting Trinidad as his main research home. We have known each other as GVSU colleagues and have been personal friends for many years, but we have not yet had the opportunity to work together. We are really looking forward to sharing this experience with a small group of Honor’s students.
Steeve’s research focuses on the influence of African cultures on the black diaspora through the slave trade and beyond. His areas of interests are material and visual culture, dress and fashion studies, and costume history. Steeve has lived in and traveled extensively in Africa. He comes at his work from the perspective of history. John studies the geology of mountain ranges around the world, including the Alps, which formed by the collision of Africa with Europe. John has also worked in African oil and gas basins as a consulting geologist. We designed the African Experience sequence around these strengths, but also around what we find fascinating and hope to learn ourselves about the African continent and its people.
How would you describe the main approach you’ll take in the sequence? What kinds of readings and assignments are there? Will there be any out-of-class activities?
Both portions of the course (history/culture, geology/natural science) the course will move systematically and will move together from the ancient to the modern. For history this means from pre-colonial to colonial to modern history. For geology, this means from the ancient, mineral-rich, African craton, to its sedimentary cover, to the cradle of humans, its stranded megafauna, and its modern rivers and landforms. Students will read from a textbook and from primary sources for the history portion of the course, and from primary sources and from the popular science literature for the geology portion. We plan a trip to Chicago to study its rich African heritage (museums, food, music, culture) (John is a Chicago “native”.).
What do you expect students, regardless of major, to take away from the sequence?
We hope that our students will appreciate, as we both do, all the rich contributions and the vast potential of Africa as a place and Africans as a people. We also hope that students will yearn to become life-long learners, as we both have, to dig deep academically, and to never again be satisfied with just the “easy” answers.
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