Kevin Wamalwa’s Mellon Public Humanities Fellowship Field Report

A Year of Building Connections and Employing the Humanities in the Community
Outgoing Fellow Field Report 2020-2021

Kevin Wamalwa
PhD candidate, Departments of Anthropology and African Cultural Studies
Ripple Project Fellow, Dane County Library Services

My job at the Dane County Library Services has been gratifying. One of our primary objectives was to establish regional equity teams to support staff training on racial equity and inclusivity and assess and make recommendations for long-term policy changes in libraries beyond the Ripple Projects’ 2021 goals.

I am excited that the discussion about “policing,” which I helped organize and facilitate last fall, has gotten the attention of organizations/institutions in Dane county outside of the library system. Notably, the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department has consulted with us on how to organize similar conversations within their organization. According to the feedback we received from library staff attendees, these discussions were timely and valuable, especially in preparing and empowering them in how to best engage with the communities they serve on racial justice matters.

Working with the DCLS on racial justice has introduced me to more practical ways to engage with communities on social issues as current and pressing as racial justice than I would in the academic world. I am glad I have been able to hone valuable skills, including facilitation, organization, and collaboration. The fellowship has provided me with the opportunity to recognize transferable skills that I have acquired through my academic training and teaching experience and how to apply them in community service.