Following the tragic shooting in Charleston this summer, Prof. Chad Williams (AAAS) crowdsourced a collection of written resources about the tragedy and the context of racialized violence and oppression in American history. The full collection, called the #CharlestonSyllabus, can be found online. There are 375 works on the African American Intellectual History Society’s website—the host for the syllabus—that have been published in various media, spanning from op-Eds reacting to the Charleston shooting to critical readings about historical racial violence and discrimination. 

This board applauds Professor Williams for his initiative on such an important issue and its wide success on social media. The #CharlestonSyllabus generated a free and accessible resource for understanding an emotionally charged and complicated subject in a deeper and broader way. It also took this dialogue out of individual academic spheres and into the public at large.

We hope the success of the #CharlestonSyllabus encourages other professors to follow in Williams’ footsteps. Given the complex nature of current events in an interconnected world, social media allows a new opportunity to start critical conversations interpreting these issues and for anyone with internet access to be included in that conversation. 

Here at Brandeis, we are fortunate to have top-rate and nationally recognized professors with in-depth knowledge in a wide field of subjects. 

We as a board urge these professors to share their knowledge and perspectives contextualizing the news, especially controversial news stories or major events. Experts in the International Business School and International and Global Studies department can guide readers to a clearer understanding of the Chinese stock market collapse, and English and Film Studies professors can gather pieces that reflect on relevant, recurring themes in the latest cultural sensations. 

As journalists scramble to report the newest facts and information during a major breaking story, we rely on scholars to take the flood of information and form sense out of it. 

This board encourages other professors to consider creating their own crowdsourced syllabi, be they on topics of the sciences, the arts, the humanities or whatever their specialty may be. We hope the #CharlestonSyllabus and other crowdsourced syllabi like it will pave the way to educating the general public on important issues or major current events.