A&S in the News: February 7-13, 2021

Senator Richard Shelby

How U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby brought home the bacon, in style: Al.com – Feb. 10

They say powerful senators bring home the bacon… Shelby has helped funnel funding to colleges and universities throughout the state. From 1996-2000, Alabama colleges got $91.8 million in direct appropriations and shared in another $105 million, ranking the state behind only California and Florida. In 2000, the Shelby Hall research center at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa was named for Shelby.

Learning Communities

Residential learning communities offer students feeling of home: The Alabama Baptist – Feb. 10

At The University of Alabama, the Blount Scholars Program, a selective, four-year, living-learning community, prides itself on small classes and intensive interaction with faculty. First-year students must live in the Blount dorm and may remain there, if they choose, as they complete their undergraduate degree. Those students also have exclusive use of facilities in two other buildings on campus.

Kamala Harris

‘We are bigger than the first and the only’: Black women reflect on Kamala Harris’ historic vice presidency: Crimson White – Feb. 10

While there’s no doubt that Vice President Harris has shattered a glass ceiling, many Black women are celebrating this historic accomplishment by working even harder for representation in politics. Malea Benjamin, a freshman majoring in political science, said the lack of female and Black representation is what drives her to pursue her degree in politics. Though she believes that Harris’s recent achievements are a great step toward increasing the representation of women in government, Benjamin said America shouldn’t become complacent. … Representation matters in spaces other than politics, too. According to The University of Alabama, over 80% of the students enrolled and 79% of the faculty identify as white. While the statistics are becoming more diverse every year, many believe it’s not happening fast enough.

Tuscaloosa Parks Survey

Officials delay Tuscaloosa park survey deadline to gather additional input: Tuscaloosa News – Feb. 10

Tuscaloosa officials will give local park users a little more time to offer input into a new recreational future for the city. Originally set to end last week, City Hall has extended the deadline for the Elevate Tuscaloosa Parks Survey to March 5. … A University of Alabama team of researchers led by professor Jane Daquin, a statistical consultant for the Institute for Social Science Research within the University of Alabama’s College of Arts and Sciences, will analyze the results and present its findings to PARA and City Hall.

Black History Scholar Bowl

This inaugural event is BFSA’s way of celebrating Black achievement: Crimson White – Feb. 10

In an effort to showcase students’ scholarly knowledge of Black history, UA’s Black Faculty and Staff Association will partner with UA’s Division of Student Life to host the first-ever Black History Scholar Bowl Competition between area universities on Feb. 27 at 11 a.m. Organizers hope the competition will also build community and strengthen connections between universities and colleges across Alabama. “We want to strengthen the relationship between the schools and brush up on our Black history,” said Chad Jackson, BFSA’s president, CEO of the BFSA executive board and the diversity, equity and inclusion council chair for the College of Continuing Studies. … “We decided to name the bowl after Trudier Harris who is a distinguished research professor in the English department and literary scholar at UA,” Jackson said.

Digital Dance Project

UT-Austin dance professor awarded grant to archive dances by Black choreographers: The Daily Texan – Feb. 

Associate dance professor Gesel Mason received a grant of just under $100,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities in December, which will support her ongoing project to preserve the works and lives of Black choreographers. … To continue with her project, Mason said she worked with Rebecca Salzer, an associate professor of dance and director of the Collaborative Arts Research Initiative at The University of Alabama, who helped increase access to her archive.

Black Authors

These Black authors fill Alabama with poetry and community: Crimson White – Feb. 11

For Kwoya Fagin-Maples, a professor in The University of Alabama’s Creative Writing MFA program, the history of the South and her experiences growing up in South Carolina and living in Alabama have heavily influenced her. She said being surrounded by a landscape heavy with history inspires her to write about that history. “The South is replete with story,” Fagin-Maples said. “There’s history all around. Even our landscape is reminiscent of history. There’s so much beauty and so much complexity that I think any writer would always have a wealth of things to draw from in terms of subject matter. So I feel like it certainly influences me, especially the landscape, and that’s something that I find myself coming back to a lot in my writing.”

Alabama’s Amazon Union

Alabama’s Amazon union push latest chapter in state’s tumultuous labor history: Al.com – Feb. 11

“If you go from California to Maryland,” Michael Innis-Jimenez, a professor of American Studies at The University of Alabama, said, “Alabama historically has the highest number of union employees in the Deep South and lower Southwest. Obviously‚ it doesn’t compare to traditional union states like New York or Illinois or California, but it is high.”

Pre-Columbian Discovery

European beads found in Alaska predate Columbus, controversial study claims: Democratic Underground – Feb. 12

Brilliantly blue beads from Europe unearthed by archaeologists in Arctic Alaska may predate Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World, a new controversial study finds. … However, other archaeologists dispute the findings, saying while these beads are old, they’re not older than Columbus’ 1492 voyage. “These beads cannot be pre-Columbian, because Europeans weren’t making beads of this type that early,” said Elliot Blair, an assistant professor of anthropology at The University of Alabama, who was not involved in the study.
New York Post