In 2023, the University of Windsor will have a new academic home that spotlights Black excellence, scholarship, research and community. The inaugural Black Studies Institute (BSI), which will be formally launched next year, is currently overseeing the recruitment of 12 new faculty and librarian positions that will enhance teaching and learning in a variety of disciplines across the institution.
Clinton Beckford, UWindsor vice-president of equity, diversity, and inclusion, envisions that the BSI will be the institutional home for Blackness at the University.
“The establishment of a Black Studies Institute at the University of Windsor is ground-breaking and transformative,” he says. “It positions the University of Windsor as a post-secondary leader in intellectual thought and practice around Blackness and makes real our commitments to Black flourishing and thriving at and beyond the institution.”
The BSI will work closely with UWindsor’s Interdisciplinary and Critical Studies Department within the Faculty of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Building a Black Studies academic program represents an innovative plan of action intended to meaningfully understand the University’s approach to Black ways of knowing in Canadian universities. The expected output will enhance the University’s research profile in Black Studies and feature scholarly work, special events, speakers’ series, mentorship, and more.
Natalie Delia Deckard, the institute’s founding director, is responsible for steering the strategic direction for the growth of the institute.
“We now have a space to centre the research of those working to lessen health disparities, increase educational opportunities, reduce employment discrimination, and increase the living standards in Black communities throughout Canada and the world,” says Dr. Deckard, an associate professor of criminology. “Windsor’s position as a hub of global communities and histories demands not only an attention to the mitigation of anti-Black racism, but a mandate to Black excellence.”
The BSI’s work will enhance and integrate into the University of Windsor’s mission by focusing on the following areas:
- Student experience
- Innovation in teaching and learning excellence
- Research excellence and impact
- Innovation, economic development, and community engagement
- Viable, healthy, and safe communities
“The landscape of Canadian Higher Education is shifting,” says interim provost Patricia Weir. “The Black Studies Institute, and the exciting hiring of Black scholars across disciplines, completely reimagines what teaching and learning will look like. As provost, I’m so proud to have worked with administrators, faculty, staff and students to bring this to fruition.”
The establishment of a Black Studies Institute was identified as a strategic priority in the University’s Anti-Black Racism and Task Force Plan. It also aligns with UWindsor’s commitment to the Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Canadian Higher Education, a national initiative that aims to redress anti-Black racism and foster Black inclusion in post-secondary institutions.
“The University of Windsor is committed to implementing the recommendations in the Anti-Black Racism Task Force Report, including purposeful hiring initiatives and the promotion of Black studies on campus and beyond,” says president Robert Gordon. “I commend the thoughtful leadership, collaboration, and determination that went into founding the Black Studies Institute.”