Black Love as Pedagogical Principle (Event Recap)

This post was co-written by Contributing Authors Kelly Baker Josephs (York College, CUNY Graduate Center) and Donna Hill (Medgar Evers College).

On February 26, 2021, Kelly Baker Josephs and Donna Hill led a discussion via Zoom about approaching pandemic teaching at CUNY via the frame of Black love. As Black female professors in primarily general education courses at campuses with large populations of Black students, Josephs and Hill have found themselves asking: How can we support our students as “‘whole’ human beings, striving not just for knowledge in books, but knowledge about how to live in the world” (bell hooks, 1994). This has always been a concern at CUNY, but the shift to virtual teaching and the threat of COVID-19 and its aftermath, in all aspects of our lives, has made the need to acknowledge non-academic factors as part of the “classroom” both more difficult and more dire. This hour of intimate conversation focused on the benefits and risks of such openness for Black faculty and Black students.

Josephs and Hill led a lively, honest, and inspiring conversation that Friday afternoon. Participants discussed how the tenets of Black love and the Black romance novel might help to guide our pedagogical practices at CUNY and, more generally, how we might integrate insights from contemporary conversations about the vital role love plays in the survival, resilience, and success of Black communities. We also discussed practical ways we might make these tenets and insights the organizing principle for our courses.

To allow for wide-ranging discussion and privacy, Josephs and Hill didn’t record the dialogue, but in the video below, they share a reconstruction of the opening presentation that the organizers recorded later.

Youtube video:

“Black Love as Pedagogical Principle” was part of a series of virtual events led by CUNY faculty in the Spring 2021. These events were co-sponsored by the Transformative Learning in the Humanities initiative.

Kelly Baker Josephs is Professor of English and Digital Humanities at York College and the CUNY Graduate Center.

Donna Hill is Assistant Professor of Professional Writing at Medgar Evers College and an award-winning author of over ninety black romance novels.

Image provided by the authors: the first slide of Prof. Donna Hill’s presentation from the event. The slide has a blue background with white lettering that reads: “Black Love as Pedagogical Principle February 26, 2021 Kelly Baker Josephs Donna Hill Transformative Learning in the Humanities.”

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