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Dr. Walter Greason is a professor of history, chairing the department of history at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. His research has defined new areas of inquiry in history, education, urban planning, and economics. Most known for his work on the concept of Wakanda as it appeared in Marvel Studios’ film, Black Panther, Dr. Greason uses advanced technology to transform schools and communities around the world.
Your WHY: Core Value – People should be hungry for education
I am driven by a passion to ignite change.
I am an educator, a historian, an economist, and an urbanist all in one. For nearly 30 years, my unique interdisciplinary expertise and reach have connected millions of faculty, students, community leaders, and politicians to engage in global conversations about democracy, capitalism, and digital markets. These connections and conversations have sparked movements. They have initiated change. They have motivated people to take action. And I am continually encouraged by the progress we’ve made.
The Wakanda Syllabus
In 2003, Drexel University hosted a course on “Race and the Media.” This course was the first in the nation to teach students about Christopher Priest’s vision of the Marvel Comics character, Black Panther.
In 2007, this work expanded in conjunction with author and filmmaker, Reginald Hudlin, in defining the specifics of the character’s nation and culture. In 2016, following the release of the blockbuster film, Captain America: Winter Soldier, international interest in the Black Panther surged. The African American Intellectual History Society featured Walter’s column on “The Wakanda Syllabus” which brought two decades of artistic and intellectual work into a global discussion about black superheroes and science fiction.
Over the next two years, hundreds of scholars expanded this discussion in anticipation of Marvel’s Black Panther film. The global phenomenon was the definitive cinematic success of 2018, winning hundreds of major creative awards around the world. The first academic resource to explain the deep resonance of the moment was an edited collection compiled by noted scholars, Julian Chambliss and Dr. Walter Greason over the previous year. [2016: Introduction to the #WakandaSyllabus]
Researcher and Author
Dr. Walter Greason’s research focuses on the comparative, economic analysis of slavery, industrialization, and suburbanization. He serves as the Treasurer for the Society for American City and Regional Planning History. He wrote The Path to Freedom: Black Families in New Jersey in 2010. His groundbreaking book, Suburban Erasure: How the Suburbs Ended the Civil Rights Movement in New Jersey, won the Best Work of Non-Fiction award from the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance in 2014. The edited collection, The American Economy, (completed with Melissa Ziobro and William Gorman in 2016), shows the evolution of market strategies in both the public and private sectors between 1749 and 2013. In 2018, Walter Greason co-authored Cities Imagined: The African Diaspora in Media and History with Julian Chambliss. Dr. Greason was honored as an Institute Fellow by the National Endowment of the Humanities for his participation in the Space and Place in Africana Studies initiative at Purdue University.
Game: Sojourner Trail [Exploring historic cities to solve problems]
Sojourners’ Trail, designed by Walter Greason and Megan Allas, is a web-based immersive game experience. It is a series of mazes that you negotiate by clicking on the available arrows to move through the maze. You first pick a character – either Maeve Millay of HBO’s Westworld (portrayed by Emmy-winning actress Thandie Newton) or Jean Grae, internationally famous independent hip hop artist.
You’ll begin in the late eighteenth century in Savannah, Georgia. You move through the map using numbers to find your way to the next game experience. At each number, you’ll be asked a question about the Black Speculative Arts Movement (referred to as Afrofuturism). Sojourners’ Trail offers the opportunity to understand the fluidity of art, literature, history, and education. The best part of the platform is that it can be re-coded to teach any subject based on students’ curiosity and teachers’ expertise. [Sojourners Trail Beta Guide]
Carnegie Hall Series: Afrofuturism Fest
The Afrofuturism Fest at Carnegie Hall starts February 2022 and is a NY Times must-attend event for the season.
Today, in addition to academic work, I am using my influence, expertise, and connections to take action in supporting vulnerable communities. With support from the strong relationships from academia and private sector partners alike, I focus on using historic preservation as a means of reinvesting in vulnerable communities.
My goal: to uplift communities by creating innovative ways to drive growth and opportunity, change policy, all while continually preserving the rich history and diversity of the area.
Contact Information for Dr. Walter Greason
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