Africana Studies Department Statement on Scholarship

What forms of scholarship define the work of those in your department at its best?

Members of the Africana Studies Department engage actively in research which, within the traditions of their respective disciplines (currently history and literature), deepens and expands knowledge and understanding of Africa, Africans, and the African Diaspora. Their research efforts normally result in peer reviewed scholarly articles, monographs and books the traditional channels for diffusing research findings.

At the same time, the Africana Studies Department recognizes and encourages two other areas of intellectual effort as contributions to knowledge about Africa, Africans, and Africans abroad. The first of these is work in the arts and imaginative literature that gains recognition in the areas of the creative arts concerned, such as dance, the plastic arts, film, the theatre, or published novels, poetry, and short stories. The second is work that contributes to the documentation of the experience of Africans, African Americans, and other people of African descent, for example, translations, collections and anthologies of historical documents and creative works, or the production of audio and visual works that contribute to the understanding of the cultures of Africa and the Diaspora.

The Department especially values contributions based on research conducted in Africa or elsewhere among peoples of African descent. It actively supports members' efforts to identify funding sources and obtain grants for such research.

What forms of peer review including those beyond the Luther campus are appropriate for their work?

Attendance, and especially presenting, at scholarly conferences is the best form of peer review for research under way, and should be considered a necessary part of the scholarly process.

At a later stage of the research process, scholarly writings articles, monographs, and books are routinely subject to scholarly review processes, including assessment and suggestions for revision by outside specialists in the department member's area of focus. In addition, for review purposes, the Department can solicit comments from their colleagues in the History and English Departments as to the professional quality of contributions. When necessary, outside specialists can be called upon to evaluate a Department member's scholarship.

On the creative arts side and for museum exhibits, the normal practice would be to call upon qualified outside reviewers to assess the significance and quality of the department member's contribution to Africana Studies.

How does scholarship in the Department relate to teaching?

Serious scholarship even that not directly related to courses taught strengthens us as writers, scholars, and critical thinkers and hence as teachers. Beyond that, Africana Studies Department members have special obligations and opportunities to enhance teaching and learning at Luther. We assist in the development of the African American American component of Paideia 1 and lead our Paideia 1 colleagues in faculty development sessions. We develop Paideia 2 courses related to race, diversity, and Africana Studies, as well as other J term courses in Africa, the Caribbean, and the US. Finally, we affect significantly the intellectual life of the college by bringing in noted speakers for public lectures, class meetings, and informal gatherings with students and faculty. In brief, Africana Studies serves as a key nexus between the Luther community and scholarship touching on diversity topics. By doing these things we not only become finer teacher/scholars: we contribute to the vitality and tone of Luther as a whole.

Given present resources and structures, Africana scholarship at Luther College develops our ability to direct student research rather than involving students actively in our own scholarship. We have a special opportunity, given our research interests and experience in Africa, to assist students in developing their own African centered research. Faculty members are also eager to explore the teaching of African languages, such as Swahili and perhaps Hausa, to students preparing for study in Africa.

Third Year, Tenure and Promotion Reviews

Third-year review: the standard is to provide convincing evidence of a promising research program, likely including drafts of articles and/or submission of a serious proposal for the funding of research leading to a scholarly book as well as presentations at national meetings and/or acceptance of at least one article for publication in a scholarly journal.

Tenure and promotion to associate professor: the standard is a successful launching of a research program that holds promise of developing into a productive scholarly career, typically including publication of at least one article in a refereed journal or edited collection, or the equivalent in creative, documentation, and museum activities, as well as active involvement in at least one national scholarly association.

Promotion to full professor: the standard is a significant body of scholarship or creative work holding promise of a continuing fruitful scholarly career, usually meaning a well reviewed book or several articles in refereed journals, or the equivalent in creative and documentary work, and evidence of an ongoing research or creative program.

What particularity is there in the kind of scholarship your department does and the special mission of a liberal arts college of the Church?

A liberal arts college of the church must welcome all research and give all serious scholarship even that critical of the church equal respect and weight in review decisions. That said, it should also give special encouragement and institutional support to proposed research by Africana Studies Department faculty which relates to the church's place in African and African American life. Such research includes that which would: Shed light directly on the role of the church in matters directly related to the experience of Africans and peoples of African descent abroad; encourage and contribute to dialogue between religious traditions active in Africa and among overseas Africans; and strengthen the development and justice activities of church organizations in the United States and elsewhere through clarifying ethical and practical issues involved in implementing Christian values in the context of Africa and the diaspora.

(February 2001)