Dr. Truman Hudson is a lecturer of multiculturalism at the University of Michigan–Dearborn. Hudson, who won the 2018 Ford Fund Community Corps award, is currently conducting a class, EDA 515 – Communities and Schools: Building and Sustaining Partnerships, that will require students to work with LGBT Detroit and Ford GLOBE to co-design a leadership development supplementary educational curriculum. The effort is called the Blank Canvas Project.
“In life, we start with a blank canvas, which oftentimes is shaped by the decisions that others have made for us,” said Hudson. “By valuing the voices of young leaders, it is our intent with the Blank Canvas Project to wipe the slate clean and engage youth in identifying ways in which to build new leaders in the fields of science, engineering, technology, arts and mathematics (STEAM), specifically in metropolitan Detroit’s African American LGBT community.”
The course is grounded in the student-centered philosophy and will serve as a bridge between theory and practice. The course will address four core tenets of the UM-Dearborn’s metropolitan mission including empowering student learning through broad and deep interaction with the liberal arts and sciences, professional studies and cutting-edge research; applying innovative pedagogies to advanced teaching and learning; building the knowledge and skills essential for personal transformation, professional success and advancing the common good; and creating and sharing knowledge through pioneering research and maximizing our partnerships with diverse sectors of our community.
Where are tomorrow’s LGBT STEAM leaders?
The course was created in part by the difficulty Hudson had finding and identifying future black LGBT STEAM leaders. Hudson asked a series of questions in developing the course including who are the leaders of color in the STEAM fields? Where are the LGBT leaders of color in the STEAM fields? How are young people from the black LGBT community being developed to go into the STEAM fields?
“The aforementioned questions have guided several of my conversations with Curtis Lipscomb, executive director with LGBT Detroit, and other thought leaders in our metropolitan region,” said Hudson. “In processing those conversations, two concerns emerged, we could not identify black LGBT Leaders in the STEAM fields and while we were able to identify several programs that focused on developing youth to go into the STEAM fields, we noted that few of the programs were successful in moving youth from secondary education into leadership roles in STEAM careers.
“Building on my initial inquiry and the data from the field, while careers in the STEAM fields have grown, the number of blacks and blacks who identity as LGBT continue to be underrepresented,” Hudson continued. “When extending the research to the leadership ranks, the numbers are abysmal at best.”
So Hudson and Lipscomb continued their talks and came up with a plan of action.
“In an effort to support the development of black LGBT leaders in the STEAM fields, Curtis Lipscomb and I met, processed the research and agreed that Detroit, with its burgeoning tech industry and community assets, is fertile ground for a youth driven leadership training model,” Hudson said.
During the Fall 2018, the research team from EDA 515 class will partner with student and adult leaders from LGBT Detroit, Detroit Cass Technical High, Triangle Society, and Izzie to make deeper impacts in our local schools. The partnership is in the process of co-designing Blank Canvas, which will be a supplementary educational curriculum that focuses on the contributions that African Americans in metropolitan Detroit’s LGBT community have made to the STEAM fields. Students will collect data and co-design the Blank Canvas curriculum. The research team will present the final curriculum at a close out event on Dec. 18th.
“LGBT Detroit is very happy to be a part of this unique partnership,” said Lipscomb. “Ford GLOBE is a very important affinity group in the metro Detroit area and we’re very happy they chose to support Dr. Hudson’s effort to educate teenage LGBT students in the work of STEAM. I congratulate Dr. Hudson on his continued work to improve the quality of life for young people.”