Welcome Note from KASC's new Director
Welcome back to KU for the beginning of another academic year amid a global pandemic. I hope that you managed to be safe, well, and maybe even happy over the summer break.
For those of you who don’t know me, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Glenn Adams. I’m a professor in the KU Department of Psychology, where I teach courses on cultural psychology, train graduate students in the Social Psychology Program, and direct the Cultural Psychology Research Group. During the 2021-2022 academic year, I’ll be serving KASC for the second time in a one-year gig as Interim Director. The first gig was 2009-2010, when I filled in for then-director Garth Myers while he ostensibly went on sabbatical leave (but still took on a lead role in writing that year’s Title VI NRC application). Besides that first turn as Interim Director, I have also served for several years as KASC Faculty Associate Director, as a member of the KASC Executive committee, and as Vice/Acting/Past President of the Mid-America Alliance for African Studies.
My engagement with African settings began with a three-year tour as a Peace Corps Volunteer teaching secondary school mathematics in Kabala, Sierra Leone. After returning to the U.S, I completed a Ph.D. in Social Psychology at Stanford University. My graduate training included two years of fieldwork in Ghana, which provided the empirical foundation for my dissertation on cultural-psychological foundations of relationality and for subsequent research that I continue to pursue alongside collaborators at the University of Ghana (for example, on conceptions of well-being or the modernity/coloniality of love). My current interest in decolonial theory has taken me to South Africa to collaborate with other members of the Decolonial Psychology Collective (@Decollectivepsy) in production of two forthcoming special issues on the topic of Decolonial Perspectives in Psychology. I am very happy to talk about this work with people who want to know more.
My second turn as Interim Director once again happens as KASC is in the application year of the quadrennial Title VI NRC/FLAS competition. This time around, KASC is in transition. Dr. Elizabeth MacGonagle is passing along the duties of KASC Director that she shouldered for a large part of the last decade--please join me in expressing sincere appreciation for her diligent work on behalf of KASC (Thanks Liz!)—and the future of international studies at KU is even more uncertain than usual. The uncertainty no doubt brings anxiety, but it also brings opportunities for us to re-think our work and to re-shape KASC in ways that respond to our current global realities.
One of the pleasures of my first turn as Interim Director was the opportunity to meet and interact regularly with KASC affiliates, working toward and getting to feel a sense of KASC community. Being Interim Director in the midst of a global pandemic brings challenges for attempts to nurture community. Still, I look forward to meeting with you individually and as a group, to hear your aspirations for KASC as we navigate uncertain times and chart our course for the future. I will soon announce online office hours where I will be available to chat about KASC with anyone who wants to drop by. Please don’t hesitate to knock on my virtual door or contact me to make a separate appointment to share your vision for KASC. I hope to see you at KASC events!