New Director Seeks to Expand the Focus of Emory’s James Weldon Johnson Institute

gillespie-andraThe James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference was established at Emory University in Atlanta in 2007. The goal of the institute was to foster new scholarship, teaching, and public dialogue focused on the legacy of the modern civil rights movement.

Now under the direction of new leader Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Emory, the institute has taken on three new stated goals:

  • Support scholarship and public engagement that examines race and intersecting dimensions of human difference, including class, gender, religion and sexuality.
  • Foster dialogue on the significance of race and ethnicity in American life and culture.
  • Engage social science and humanities scholars of the African American, Asian American and Latino/Latina American experiences.

“I like to build things,” says Dr. Gillespie. “So I’ve very excited about the prospect of being able to shape an institute. My goal is to help contribute to Emory’s reputation as a leading center for scholarship on race in the United States.”

“In previous years, a lot of the scholarship here was very grounded in the humanities,” Dr. Gillespie added. “We’re now seeking to give support as well to social science scholarship and the professional disciplines, to reach out across the College of Arts and Sciences to engage our colleagues in the School of Public Health, School of Nursing and the School of Medicine. It’s important to have those voices at the table.”

Dr. Gillespie is a graduate of the University of Virginia. She hold two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in political science from Yale University. Dr. Gillespie joined the Emory University faculty in 2005. She is the author of The New Black Politician: Cory Booker, Newark and Post-Racial America (New York University Press, 2012).


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