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Ampersand Spring 2021: News & Notes

Professionals, Graduate Students Explore Diversity, Inclusion in New Online Certificate Program

By Richard LeComte

In 2019, the College of Arts & Sciences started bringing together a group of people from several walks of life to learn about diversity. The broadness of the new program—an online Graduate Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion—goes a long way to practice what it preaches.

“I think that's really one of the ideas behind the certificate: to bring people together from different backgrounds and in different careers and studies and professions,” said M. Cristina Alcalde, associate dean of Inclusion and Internationalization, who founded the program. “Given what's happening at the University right now and nationally, I think this is a particularly relevant certificate to have.”

The program is made up of four eight-week, three-credit courses. Alcalde said the program rose from a Provost’s Office call for more online programming; the subject turns out to be a great fit for many different professions.

In addition to the core course, Perspectives on Diversity and Inclusion, students may select three electives, including African American Lives; Understanding Latinx Cultures; Heath, Illness, and Disabilities; and Intercultural Communication for Professionals. They are taught by a broad range of College faculty members. The program draws from the wide expertise of College faculty and highlights some of the most pressing issues of the day.

The diversity of the program itself has attracted students from a wide range of UK disciplines as well as outside professionals. Because the classes are taught asynchronously, students get a chance to read, contemplate and learn from their peers’ comments on bulletin board discussions.

“We have someone from nursing speaking to someone from engineering speaking to someone from education, and we're all trying to apply the same concepts together,” Alcalde said. “These are very important discussions to have right now, and this certificate is particularly relevant in today’s world.”

Online certificates and master's degrees

The College of Arts & Sciences offers several online certificate programs and master's degree options for graduate students:

  • Applied Environmental and Sustainability Studies.
  • Applied Statistics.
  • Digital Mapping.
  • Diversity and Inclusion.
  • Latin Studies.
  • Liberal Studies.
  • Professional and Technical Writing.

For more information, go to

New UK Cooperative Connects Humanities, Social Sciences Scholars with Community

A new initiative of the College, the Cooperative for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS), was launched in August 2020. The effort promotes partnerships among faculty and graduate students across the University while facilitating engagement with local, state, national and international communities.

“Such fields as history, philosophy, literature, sociology, geography, anthropology and fine arts can create broader understanding of the human experience and help advance a more just and equitable society,” said Karen Petrone, professor of history and director of the Cooperative.

The Cooperative’s programming in 2020-2021 addresses the theme of “Crises and Creating Social Change.” It brings together knowledge and perspectives from community members and UK faculty to move the community in constructive and hopeful directions.

In addition to Petrone, the steering committee for the effort features Steve Davis, associate professor of history; Herman Farrell, university research professor in the Department of Theatre & Dance in the College of Fine Arts; Lee Mandelo, a doctoral student in Gender and Women’s Studies; Kristin Monroe, Sheikh Islamic Studies professor and associate professor of anthropology; Edward Morris, professor of sociology; Natalie Nenadic, associate professor of philosophy; Doug Slaymaker, professor of Japan Studies in MCLLC; Anna Smith, assistant professor of statistics; and Matthew W. Wilson, associate professor of geography.

This spring, the Cooperative has created writing groups drawing from UK faculty and graduate students from diverse disciplines and methods. Programming has included a panel on “Universities, Youths, Race and Policing,” which brought together scholars, a juvenile justice activist and the police chief of Berea, Kentucky.

The Cooperative will also host a workshop for graduate students on publicly engaged scholarship and a session with historian John Barry on what the 1918 pandemic can teach us today. For more information or to make a contribution, go to  

A&S Virtual Speaker Series

In an effort to provide quality content and connect alumni, friends and the community to the College of Arts & Sciences, the Virtual Speaker Series began last May. With nearly 20 online events to date, topics covered have included the science behind COVID-19, the 2020 election, pandemic mental health, writing toward protest and healing, challenges for higher education and Black Studies at UK. Events are scheduled each month and are free to attend through Zoom.

Stay up-to-date on upcoming topics and register for future events at Make sure to check out recordings of past events at We hope to see you virtually soon.

New Faculty Hired in African American and Africana Studies

Five recently hired faculty members associated with the African American and Africana Studies interdisciplinary program in the College of Arts & Sciences are broadening the range of course offerings for University of Kentucky students.

“It is important to hire Black faculty in these areas and all areas, because their individual and collective research expertise is essential to the mission of the University,” said DaMaris B. Hill, interim director of the African American and Africana Studies program. "Black Studies is an incubator for new knowledge regarding global Black peoples and humanity. These AAAS new faculty hires and AAAS faculty affiliates are agents of research and new discoveries. These hires are an important indication within the College of Arts and Sciences, and by extension at the University of Kentucky, that Black Studies matter.”

The new faculty are: 

  • Lydia Pelot-Hobbs is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography. Her research is focused on the nexus of the carceral state, racial capitalism and social movements and grassroots organizing. (Not pictured)
  • JWells is an assistant professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies. JWells’ research interests include cultural literacies, women’s rhetorics, maternal incarceration and race.
  • Brandon M. Erby is an assistant professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies. His research interests include African American rhetoric, literacy studies, critical education and the rhetoric and historiography of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.
  • Vieux Touré is an instructor in Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures (French and Francophone Studies). Vieux’s research explores transnegritude–a concept he is developing–and Black identity politics in African literature of the 20th and 21st centuries.
  • Aria S. Halliday is an assistant professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. Halliday specializes in cultural constructions of black girlhood and womanhood in material, visual and digital culture in the 20th and 21st centuries.