Professor Discusses Love in the Academic Sphere


On Wednesday, April 1, students crowded in Golden Auditorium to listen to Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Director of Divisional Diversity Initiatives at Miami University in Ohio Dr. Denise Taliaferro Baszile. Baszile gave a lecture titled, “Where is the Love: Thoughts on Educating for Social Justice in/through/against Academia.” Baszile was asked to speak for Colgate’s Annual Race and Education Lecture.

Before moving on to work at Miami University in Ohio, Baszile worked as a professor at Colgate in the Educational Studies, African American Studies and Women’s Studies departments. In her introductory speech, Visiting Assistant Professor in the Educational Studies department Berlisha Morton discussed the significance of Baszile’s reappearance at Colgate. Morton mentioned how it seemed almost magical that 13 years had gone by since Baszile taught at Colgate and that – in that time – Morton had come to teach at the school. Morton discussed the significance of the fact that both she and Baszile received their PhDs from Louisiana State University and how there seemed to be something unique or “magical” about this coincidence and how this was symbolic of a sense of continuity in their work towards social justice.

Baszile began her presentation with a silent video clip, showing examples of injustices committed against African Americans and examples of resistance. While Baszile noted that it may appear as though much progress has been made in the fight against racism, she discussed scholar Patricia Williams’ idea of “spirit murder” that continues to this day and argued that there is still a lot that has to be done to continue to combat forms of racism within our society.

In her discussion, Baszile talked about the importance of “revolution” and how love is a pivotal component in making any kind of social movement meaningful. Baszile pointed out how the word love itself can be found within the word revolution and how this was symbolic of the necessity of love for a movement aimed at changing society to occur. She said that, by discussing the importance of love, she did not mean the “mushy kind of love” but instead was referring to the kind of love and understanding that we feel for one another as human beings.

Sophomore Federico Elizondo was one of the students who attended the lecture and appreciated Baszile’s emphasis on love in creating a sense of unity among people.

“I think that the lecture did a great job at highlighting the need for supplementing our knowledge with feelings and emotions. Dr. Baszile stressed the value of love and empathy as an essential aspect towards progression,” Elizondo said.

Baszile was able to relate to the audience on a certain level in talking about the sit-in that occurred in the Hurwitz Admission Center last semester because there was also a sit-in that took place when she was a professor at Colgate. Baszile emphasized not only the significance of love in creating a kind of revolution but also the importance of “coalition building” through this love. She noted how this kind of collaboration among people, while possibly difficult because of differences among people, is important in creating such movements.

“In order to have any sort of inclusion, individuals must love others – even themselves. I found it particularly valuable because higher education usually never leaves room to acknowledge emotions,” Elizondo said.