IUME Team Meeting Recap 11/4: What kind of work does IUME do? ☆

| November 4, 2011

Hello everyone. As usual for our bi-weekly meetings, the IUME team gathered together this afternoon at the Edmund W. Gordon Campus in Harlem to update each other on our individual projects and discuss the future of IUME.

Initially, the meeting started with a bunch of logistical endeavors; we officially scheduled some of our Spring Colloquia. In addition, we finalized our Winter Colloquia and discussed a variety of other projects that IUME wants to get off the ground soon. All these things are extremely exciting as we also discussed how to engage the larger community—both Teachers College but even more so in Harlem and beyond. These events will all be listed on the IUME website shortly as will details, etc., via the main site and our social media pages (so keep on the look out). However, as the meeting shifted past these scheduling events, Dr. Morrell moved us all in the direction to conceptualizing what these events mean to IUME and our overall work.You may be wondering yourself the specific type of work IUME does (and intends to do), exactly, as that is a question we each get asked often. We realized that this question is intricately a part of our identity because what we do creates the syllabus that makes up who we are, whether it be Colloquia or a community project or a research proposal. What does it mean to use advocacy, practice, critical race methodologies, participatory action research, etc. in ways that are interwoven into the events/projects/research that we put on? Dr. Morrell mentioned Paulo Freire, who talks about how dialogue itself as being praxiological—he talks about using dialogue as a liberatory action. Bell hooks in Teaching to Transgress uses the same framework. It is not just what we do, but how we do it—and why we do it. Thus, how do people frame a plan of action? Specifically, how does IUME shape what people think about taking action? Connecting this back to the “what do we do” question, Dr. Morrell brought up an example of tutoring in Harlem; the act of tutoring in Harlem “just to help out” is not critical enough. While IUME will offer opportunities to, of course, tutor in Harlem (among other opportunites), Dr. Morrell asked us “what does it mean to tutor in Harlem?” The action itself is not revolutionary…but thinking critically about how the tutors process the world and their place in society is. What does it mean for one of us to go into Harlem and tutor a student and what does it mean to the student? How do they understand this process? Why is a specific tutor going into Harlem versus an alternate, more affluent area—what makes students in Harlem different, than say, students in Long Island? Why do these students not have access to other tutoring options? These are the type of critical analyses that offer meaning to any action or event, and what we strive to do in everything we stamp our name on. As Dr. Morrell said, the process of studying, thinking, and reflecting itself is revolutionary and to really ‘change the world’ we must truly understand the world.

Finally, as our afternoon was nearing its end, Dr. Morrell also mentioned that he also gets asked quite frequently, “what is your vision for IUME?” Dr. Morrell responded that it was not his vision, but everyone at IUME’s vision—it is a collective vision that is respective of the legacy that Dr. Gordon stamped on IUME the past 39 years, but also a vision that is constantly in development moving forward. IUME is only as powerful as the people who make it up. IUME will continue to grow, breathe, and evolve. Finally, Dr. Morrell asked us all rhetorically (for the moment, at least), “what kind of breadcrumbs does IUME want to leave?” While we are still in the process of leaving those breadcrumbs, we hope that they come from a larger entity that we are shaping to be “distinctly IUME”—combining theory with practice to impact people and communities with critical scholarship. As always, we hope to have you join us.