Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

NOTEWORTHY NEWS; A Meeting of the Minds

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

NOTEWORTHY NEWS; A Meeting of the Minds

Article excerpt

It began with a casual conversation about five years ago among seven African American men attending a conference of the American Educational Research Association in Montreal. Their meeting was an ad hoc "Black caucus" of sorts, during which they discussed topics ranging from tenure and the lack of Black males in the academy to HIV in their communities.

The small gathering evolved into an organization of 200 members, Brothers of the Academy, and their discussion formed the basis of BOTA's first think tank, which will take place Oct. 1-4 in Kansas City.

The scarcity of African American men attending the Montreal conference triggered the discussion. "Out of 10,000 people, it was very disheartening," recalls BOTA president Dr. Lee Jones of Florida State University. "We decided to develop an organization to look at how we can increase the number of Black men getting terminal degrees and going into research."

Jones said their discussion revealed that the men were having difficulty getting published if they were doing the kind of research that would benefit their communities, on subjects such as urban education, health care and economic development in Black communities. "We needed alternative types of scholarly outlets because we found these subjects were not valued by our institutions as legitimate forms of scholarship."

The think tank, formally titled "Brothers of the Academy Think Tank 2003: Deconstruct to Reconstruct," may sound a bit familiar. It is loosely patterned after an academic endeavor steeped in historical significance. "The think tank is actually modeled after the Du Bois Atlanta University studies," says event chair Dr. Leon Caldwell, assistant professor of educational psychology at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He says Carter G. Woodson's The Miseducation of the Negro is also a model for the think tank.

Caldwell explains that the conference, which is expected to attract more than 300 participants, has a dual purpose: "First, we hope to demonstrate that you can actually have collaboration among academic scholars to improve the community; the other is that we have the resources and capacity to address some of our own issues and problems."

The conference will be broken into thematic sessions each day focusing on specific problems: education, health, family and economic development, student achievement, HIV and AIDS among African Americans, and promoting positive media images. …

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