Democratizing Knowledge Summer Institute Just Academic Spaces: Institutional Transformation

Bonita "Bonnie" Veysey's picture
Summer Program
February 10, 2017
New Jersey, United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, American History / Studies, Fine Arts, Humanities

The Democratizing Knowledge (DK) Project was an initiative inaugurated at Syracuse University in 2009 with the intent to make knowledge production more open, inclusive, and democratic. It was from that initiative that the Summer Institute was launched in 2016.

The 2017 Summer Institute, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will bring together faculty, advanced doctoral and other terminal degree students, and scholar-activists from the humanities and social sciences across the US to examine the current state of US higher education; explore productive dialogues between community organizations, activists, and scholar-activists; and work on collaborative strategies to create a more just academy. Together, scholar-activists and community partners will share how these collaborations rely on new, sometimes unexpected, kinds of institutional transformation and change -- in the academy and in the community.

The Institute will begin on Day One with an intellectual, pedagogical, and curricular orientation to situate the current state of higher education institutions and the communities in which they are located. On Days Two through Five, participants will partake in skills-building workshops as well as meet with different university-community partners with the goal of producing a final project. The university-community partners are Express Newark, the Newark City of Learning Collaborative (NCLC), the Honors Living-Learning Community (HLLC) and YouthBuild Newark (YBN). Express Newark is a University-Community Collaboratory that cultivates artistic expression locally that resonates globally by facilitating public scholarship and community engagement among Rutgers University - Newark (RU-N) faculty, staff and students with community partners and residents of Greater Newark. NCLC is a city-wide postsecondary collective impact network committed to increasing the percentage of Newark residents with postsecondary credentials from the current 17% to 25% by 2025. Revolutionizing the term "honors," the HLLC is a transformative college access and success program that fosters the academic, social, and personal development of talented students from all walks of life with a desire to make a difference in their communities and beyond. YBN is an innovation-driven youth and community development agency that serves Greater Newark's disconnected ("opportunity") youth.

The final project will share pedagogical and curricular responses designed to democratize institutional structures; integrate gender, sexuality, class, race, ethnicity, citizenship status and transnational experiences throughout all learning and knowledge-producing spaces; garner institutional support to create structures that dismantle entrenched inequities and exclusion; and develop community partnerships based on mutual respect for experience and knowledge. The Institute culminates on Day Six in a day-long symposium where participants will share their reflections/projects and engage in a dialogue about bringing their knowledges from the Institute to their home institutions and communities.

The 2017 Institute is designed and led by Associate Professors Sherri-Ann Butterfield and Shirley Collado of the Rutgers University - Newark Chancellor's Office and Professor Bonita Veysey, of RU-N’s P3 Collaboratory for Pedagogy, Professional Development, and Publicly-engaged Scholarship in collaboration with the DK Collective at Syracuse University. Invited workshop speakers and leaders include: Nancy Cantor, Chancellor, Rutgers University - Newark; Cathy Cohen, David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago; Linda Carty, Associate Professor of African-American Studies and Co-Director, Democratizing Knowledge, Syracuse University; Chandra Mohanty, Professor, Women's and Gender Studies, Sociology, and Cultural Foundations of Education, and Co-Director, Democratizing Knowledge, Syracuse University; Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women's Studies, Spelman College; and Erica Williams, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Spelman College. A subsequent iteration of the Institute will take place at Spelman College in Summer 2018.

Eligibility: Doctoral and other terminal degree students who have completed at least two years of course work, postdoctoral scholars, and pre-tenure faculty in contingent or tenure-track positions who are working on issues related to the topic of the Institute are eligible. Minority scholars and those who are at HBCUs and other primarily minority-serving institutions are especially encouraged to apply. Room and board is fully covered for up to 20 successful applicants. If needed, financial assistance is also available for travel to Rutgers University-Newark.

Application requirements:

  • §  Cover letter detailing your interest in “Just Academic Spaces,” including a description of a project you are currently engaged in or want to develop in the future as an outcome of the Institute.

  • §  Name and contact of two referees

  • §  One letter of recommendation

  • §  Short Curriculum Vitae (2 pages)

    Application available online at: DKSI 2017 application link -

    Application Deadline: February 10, 2017 (notification by March 15, 2017) 

Contact Info: 
  1. For more details or further information, please contact Santeka Grigley, RU-N 2017 Summer Institute Program Administrator and/or Dellareese T. Jackson, DK Mellon Graduate Assistant at