Ruth Nicole Brown has devoted her career to what she calls “engaged scholarship” with black girls to create new worlds with, ask questions of, and celebrate black girlhood.
The professor of gender and women’s studies remains active on campus, in the surrounding Urbana-Champaign area, and across the United States co-organizing spaces dedicated to humanistic inquiry, the documentation of black girlhood culture, and collective knowledge production about the myriad ways social and political conditions shape and are shaped by black girls.
Brown’s most recent book, titled, “Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood,” documents the pedagogy of creating spaces where black girls can come together and be who they want to be, she said
In fact, the book is a closer look into Brown’s involvement in the Saving our Lives Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT) program, a collective she began in Champaign in 2006. Brown said the Conrad Humanities Scholarship will help her sustain working with local girls to practice freedom and enact social change.
Brown will also continue to work on other projects, such as her current digital humanities project, Black Girl Nature, that examines the relationship between black girlhood and the outdoors. The project maps black girls’ contemplative thought in relation to Anthropocene—the period of time when human activity has impacted Earth’s environment—and environmental justice.
Sound, video, images, and text will be utilized to shape the final product that will culminate in an accessible book and interactive exhibit.
“I hope to continue co-organizing SOLHOT and Black Girl Genius Week while also developing a thriving on-campus space devoted to public scholarship and social justice,” Brown said. “Illinois leadership is thinking intentionally about ways to make the arts and the humanities more visible, and as a Conrad scholar, I want to be a part of those conversations and do what I can to amplify and advocate for critically and creatively engaged work that makes this world more livable for us all.”