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View of the Davie Poplar on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on July 12, 2018. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)A new shared learning initiative in the College of Arts & Sciences will support student learning and discussions about heritage, race, post-conflict legacies, politics of remembrance and contemporary projects of reconciliation. It will kick off in fall 2019.

Reckoning: Race, Memory and Reimagining the Public University” will build on existing courses (plus at least one new offering), supplementing the coursework with shared readings.

“The ‘Reckoning’ initiative will allow students and faculty to thoughtfully discuss Carolina’s complicated history in the context of U.S. and global histories. Guided by well-crafted syllabi, they can make connections they might not have seen before,” said Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld, senior associate dean for social sciences and global programs in the College of Art & Sciences.  “By extension, faculty and students will consider the lessons of what it means to be a public university in 21st century America.”

The initiative will provide opportunities for students to practice difficult conversations, gain a vocabulary for engaging in the moment, connect diverse fields of study to current issues and understand what comparative cases reveal about Carolina’s own experiences, Colloredo-Mansfeld said.

Students interview Louise Owens, one of the elder descendants of lynching victim Plummer Bullock as part of Glenn Hinson’s “Southern Legacies: The Descendants Project” class in fall 2018. (photo by Taylor Gartman)
Students interview Louise Owens as part of Glenn Hinson’s “Southern Legacies: The Descendants Project” class. (photo by Taylor Gartman)

“Reckoning” will consist of the following components:

  • Two types of courses:
    • Foundational courses include those with a focus on race, U.S. racial politics, the history of truth and reconciliation processes, the South and civil rights and similar issues.
    • New Directions courses engage these topics from diverse perspectives across multiple fields, sharing relevant lessons from comparative cases.
  • Shared readings: Over the course of the semester, each course will engage the shared themes. Each course will also allocate three class meetings to common reading assignments so all students will have meaningful intersections across diverse academic terrain.
  • Gathering: Faculty and students will come together at least once during the semester for a joint presentation and to connect with the wider learning community. They will also propose ways to extend the initiative.

“Reckoning” courses and instructors for fall 2019 include:


  • “Class, Race and Inequality in America” (Kenneth R. Janken, African, African American and diaspora studies)
  • “Health & Medicine in the American South” (Martha King, anthropology)
  • “Introduction to the American South: A Cultural Journey” (Seth Kotch, American studies)
  • “Introduction to the Cultures and Histories of Native North America” (Malinda Maynor Lowery, history)
  • “Race and Ethnic Relations” (Kathleen J. Fitzgerald, sociology)
  • *“Race & Memory at UNC” (William Sturkey, history). In this new 1-credit course, students will examine 225-plus years of university history and gain an advanced understanding of the contemporary challenges and opportunities of studying that history.
  • “Slavery and the University” (James Leloudis, history)
  • “Southern Legacies: The Descendants Project” (Glenn Hinson, anthropology) Read a story about this class.
  • “Space, Place and Difference” (Altha Cravey, geography)

New Directions:

  • “Arabic Sources on American Slavery” (Carl Ernst, religious studies)
  • “Everyday Stories” (Patricia E. Sawin, American studies)
  • “Globalization and the French-Speaking World” (Dorothea Heitsch, romance studies)
  • “Global Whiteness” (Mark Driscoll, global studies, Asian studies)
  • “Greek Drama from Page to Stage” (Al Duncan, classics)
  • “Latin@ American Cultural Topics” (Emile Keme, Spanish)
  • “Literary Approaches to American Studies” (Annette M. Rodriguez, American studies)
  • “Modern South Africa” (Lauren Jarvis, history)
  • Transnational Romanticism (Jan Koelb)

The “Reckoning” faculty coordinating committee is composed of Colloredo-Mansfeld, Karla Slocum (Institute of African American Research and anthropology), Patricia McAnany (anthropology), Lisa Lindsay (history), Betsy Olson (geography) and Eunice Sahle (African, African American and diaspora studies).

Visit the “Reckoning” initiative’s website.

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