George Washington University to debut new history course to allow students to probe the school's ties to slavery

Historians in the News
tags: slavery, George Washington University



Katrin Schultheiss, the chair of the history department, said she decided to offer the course because students often want to delve into the history of their University.

Faculty are including students in the effort to examine GW’s history with slavery and segregation in a new course dedicated to researching the subject.

Starting in the spring, the history department will offer a Slavery, Segregation and GWU course for the first time, giving history majors the chance to scour the archives and conduct their own research into how slaves and segregationist policies have shaped the University over its nearly 200-year history.

The course comes on the heels of a faculty effort to formally investigate GW’s ties to slavery and a nationwide trend of universities beginning to come to grips with their roles in one of the darkest chapters in American history.

Last academic year, a faculty research group asked top officials, including former University President Steven Knapp, to fund research into topics like the history of racial justice activism on campus and former college officials who owned slaves. University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said faculty have “delved deeply into GW’s archives and are now working to bring their research to students and the broader community,” including with the new course.

“We believe it is critical to understand and learn from every aspect of our past, including engagement with slavery and the reality of racial inequality that followed,” she said in an email.

Csellar said the provost’s office will host a symposium either this spring or early next fall about research into GW’s history, which will include “research and learning outcomes from this course.”

Richard Stott, a professor of history who will teach the course next spring, said he was interested in learning more about GW’s past connections to slavery after other universities like Georgetown have faced high-profile controversies involving slavery. ...





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