CAS - Ampersand E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

October 2014

Dear College of Arts and Science friends:

Dean John Sloop

Recently, I visited the Sarratt Student Center and walked through The Wisdom of the Elders, a display of photographs, paintings and other artistic renderings of life stories by African American senior citizens from Murfreesboro, just 40 minutes away from campus. The creative works were the outcome of a three-year project in which the seniors met at a Murfreesboro community center and developed ways to pass on collected knowledge. The project was conceived by Associate Professor of English Ifeoma Nwankwo, working with Peabody’s William Turner and School of Medicine’s James Powers, as a combination of a public humanities program and health study.

Funded in part through a mini grant from the Meharry-Vanderbilt Community Engaged Research Core, this project represents just one way the university interacts with the greater community.

The outcome was inspiring, as it should be when collective work is realized. Participant after participant enthusiastically told me what they had learned over the three years and discussed how excited they were to share their histories and knowledge with Vanderbilt people.

I love that our community and our university benefited from this trans-institutional cooperation—among colleges and schools within Vanderbilt, between Vanderbilt and Meharry, and between this collective and residents and officials in the Murfreesboro area.

I want to salute the participants and the Vanderbilt faculty participating in the Wisdom of the Elders project. It will continue this year, as will other programs that link Vanderbilt with the larger community. I am proud of our faculty who helped launch this award-winning project and look forward to new initiatives and new knowledge, not just for Vanderbilt but our community and the world.

Best wishes,

Dean John Sloop's signature




John M. Sloop


Painting by Rose SolomonWisdom of the Elders

A participant tells her story and professor Ifeoma Nwankwo talks about how the project combines literary studies with health. Listen





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Professor Molly Miller demonstrates how to dig into the prehistoric past.



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