OMAI to Host Annual ‘Hip Hop in the Heartland’ Educators’ Institute Series

Featuring Dr. Bettina Love, Dr. Adam Falkner, and Damaris Dunn.

The Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives will begin its annual series of educators’ institutes, Hip Hop in the Heartland, on January 30, 2021, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. CST. Educators who would like to participate can register today. Registrants can purchase a single-day pass for $25 each or buy access to all three Spring events for $65.  Hip Hop in the Heartland offers educators and community leaders an opportunity to connect hip hop as both an art form and an instructional tool to improve the academic success of students who remain marginalized in our schools. The one-of-a-kind program draws from educational pedagogies on socio-cultural theory, cultural relevancy, critical race theory, hip hop and social justice. Participants learn proven, hands-on techniques to develop lesson plans and strengthen their course study, as well as create a platform from which they will understand the scope of hip hop history, culture and politics.

As the devastation left by the COVID-19 pandemic mingles with civil unrest across the country, now more than ever educators must engage young people with culturally relevant pedagogy that can speak to the current moment. Hip Hop in the Heartland seeks to equip educators with the tools needed to launch these conversations and encourage a dialogue that centers the unique experiences of young people as they navigate the complexities of the current global context.

This year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Bettina Love, is an award-winning author and the Athletic Association Endowed Professor at the University of Georgia. She is one of the field’s most esteemed educational researchers. Her writing, research, teaching, and activism meet at the intersection of race, education, abolition, and Black joy. Dr. Love is concerned with how educators working with parents and communities can build communal, civically engaged schools rooted in Abolitionist Teaching with the goal of intersectional social justice for equitable classrooms that love and affirm Black and Brown children.

Dr. Adam Falkner is a poet, educator and arts & culture strategist. Dr. Falkner’s interactive talk will explore his research around the use of storytelling and poetry to create “ruptures” — moments of disruption where student (and teacher) experiences around identity assert themselves in ways that create conflict or dissonance — in classrooms toward encouraging empathy, connection and dialogue, and introduce educators to one teaching tool used to center identity intersectionality in the curriculum. Session will include a performance, brief small group breakouts, and tangible tips for teachers — particularly white teachers — looking for ways to decenter their identities and roles in instruction.

Finally, Damaris Dunn is a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice at the University of Georgia’s Mary Frances Early College of Education. Damaris is a former social studies teacher and youth developer, committed to Black youth’s joy in K-12 settings. She will facilitate a workshop rooted in that research.

Together, this year’s event will create a communal space for educators who are grappling with the nuances of teaching to the current moment to engage in a collaborative learning process, building a framework for teaching that can support young students.

This event will be hosted via Zoom.