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College of Arts and Letters

Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity (ISRE)


African American Studies (or Black Studies) is rooted in the social movements led by African Americans in the 1960's. Amid this struggle, debates regarding the structure and goals of material that were taught inside the standard college classroom soon led to the advent of Black Studies programs at various colleges and universities. The participants in the movement maintained that the Black experience in America was being ignored, despite, its impact on the social landscape of the nation. Many African Americans and Whites pursued the goals of political and social equality and fought for the development of a college curriculum that would be inclusive of the African American experience.

African American Studies has evolved into an important part of the American educational structure. Interdisciplinary in nature, it provides all students with the opportunity to research and comprehend the history, politics, and culture of African Americans. This interdisciplinary field of study is designed to give students a broader perspective on the current political, economic, and social interactions in American society.


The Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity (ISRE) seeks to develop, promote and implement academic, research and public service programs that focus on the study of race and ethnicity in Hampton Roads, Virginia, the nation, and throughout the African Diaspora. The political, social, economic, cultural and historical experiences of African Americans and other communities of color are important dimensions emphasized in the work of the Institute. As such, the Institute seeks to establish as a major archive and research center in the southeast United States focusing on the experiences of African Americans. The Institute also promotes high quality teaching and rigorous policy-oriented research emphasizing interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches, as well as the methods of the traditional social sciences and humanities disciplines. ISRE collaborates with groups and organizations nationally and throughout the region, and on campus partners with a variety of academic departments and student programs including Asian Studies, Women Studies, the Filipino American Student Cultural Center, the Hugo A. Owens African American Student Cultural Center, and the Office of Multicultural Student Services. We offer new and improved facilities such as a mini-archive, library, reading and meeting area as well as a research/resource center for faculty and students.


  • Promote teaching, research, scholarship, and curriculum development throughout the University which addresses issues pertaining to race and ethnicity and the political, social, and economic condition of people of color in Hampton Roads, the state, nation, and globally.
  • Develop leaders and facilitate the evolution of a society, which challenges stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, and belief systems that hinder the intellectual emancipation, and personal growth of all members of society.
  • Utilize intellectual resources and expertise to address the most challenging social problems and issues of the day that face non-Whites regionally, statewide, nationally, and internationally.


The Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, located in BAL 2023.

We offer new and improved facilities such as a mini-archive, library, reading and meeting area as well as a research/resource center for faculty and students.

Individuals will be able to do research pertaining to minority issues, or simply browse through the Institute's collection of books, videos, microfilms, journals, and magazines, which offer topics ranging from minority women, African-American history/literature, Asian-American culture, and ethnicity in the U.S. We can be contacted at 683-5586, or by FAX at 683-6171. Or, drop by and see for yourself our resource center in the heart of BAL! We welcome your visit

Contact Director :- Dr. Melvina Sumter -  msumter@odu.edu
Graduate Research Assistant : - Mildred D. Berger-Hill - mberg009@odu.edu
Old Dominion University
Batten Arts & Letters, #2023
Norfolk, VA 23529
Office (757) 683-5586
FAX (757) 683-6171
For additional information about the IRSE, please download the brochure (pdf).