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Pictured is Josie Brown. Submitted photo.

"My first goal for the School of Arts and Sciences is to develop a strong campus presence. Our school offers students a robust liberal arts education, which translates into transferable skill sets that employers are looking for. I also want the School of Arts and Sciences to contribute to our broader community."

Josie Brown, Ph.D., dean of the School of Arts and Sciences

Josie Brown, Ph.D., is the new dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Point Park University. She comes to Point Park from Western New England University, where she was serving as interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and director of study abroad.

"My first goal for the School of Arts and Sciences is to develop a strong campus presence," she said. "Our school offers students a robust liberal arts education, which translates into transferable skill sets that employers are looking for. I also want the School of Arts and Sciences to contribute to our broader community."

Brown brings nearly 20 years of experience teaching and leading in higher education to Point Park. She also served for seven years as assistant dean of WNEU’s College of Arts and Sciences. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Bates College, a master’s degree from Queens College, The City University of New York and a Ph.D. from the University of New York at Stony Brook.

Learn more about Brown in the Q&A below. 

Why did you want to come to Point Park?

Point Park appealed to me because there are so many co-op and internship opportunities for our students. Getting that kind of hands-on experience, coupled with a strong liberal arts education, is critical to student success. Current and incoming students have varied ideas of what they want to do. You will have a student who knows they want to be a clinical counselor, and then you will have a student who has no idea what they want to pursue. Point Park gives every student the opportunity to go out and get hands-on experience. It is just as important to try something and go, "I love this!" as it is to try something and go, "No, not for me." Being able to know that early on is valuable, and I like that Point Park offers students that opportunity to test out different areas of interest. There are opportunities here for students to learn about themselves, what they're good at, and then go out and try it early on in their academic career. 

What are some of the things you're excited to explore in Pittsburgh?

Museums, definitely! Pittsburgh has so much to offer anyone who is interested in learning more about history and culture. Right here on campus we have great educational opportunities. The Pittsburgh Playhouse has Urban Bush Women coming soon, and I've been asked to get involved with some of the planning for that. Through that conversation, I have learned more about Black history in Pittsburgh, and I'm really excited to dig more deeply into that. I want to learn more about how Harlem and Pittsburgh are connected through the Renaissance. There is a rich history here, and I want to learn more about how African Americans contributed to building this beautiful city.

Describe your academic and research interests.

I am an African Americanist, so I study African American culture. I also study Caribbean, Post-Colonial and Black British literature and culture. My earlier research had a lot to do with migratory subjects, people who start in one area (I'm from the Caribbean) and migrate to the U.S. What impact does that have on your literature? How do you fit into a mainstream society when you're an outsider? And, how do you articulate your sense of identity as a migrating subject?

My work has shifted recently into Afrofuturism and this notion of creating a space for Black presence and existence. I'm fascinated by the fact that in a lot of ways we still must create a space of belonging. It's 2022, but we still have this idea that being Black is marginalized. It's not part of the mainstream identity. We are still struggling to define lived spaces where we can be seen as equal and as contributors to society. Afrofuturism is creating a space where you can express your Blackness, and we can think about Black people as equal. Afrofuturism offers that, and it provides a freedom, a space for Black identity to speak realistically about what we're going through, what we're experiencing and how we imagine our future. 

What are your hobbies?

I'm a "blerd" – a Black nerd. I love to read. I read a lot in my work, and my research is reading, but when I want to relax, I also pick up a book. I'm a big fan of BBC TV and watch a lot of British TV. But my thing is reading. I love having my comfy chair, picking up a book and just reading for hours. I recently read Rivers Solomon's "The Unkindness of Ghosts." It's a science fiction novel where humans have destroyed the planet and there's a spaceship taking survivors off Earth, but the spaceship is divided into levels that reflect aspects of society, like race, gender and other characteristics. The main character is neurodivergent. I like it because anyone reading it can find themselves in the text. I like novels that I know I can teach and that my students can connect with. You're more likely to finish the text, but also empathize and understand what the characters are going through if you can connect with them. I look forward to teaching it and using it in a classroom experience in the future.

What do you want students to know about you?

I am available and accessible. I think it's important for students to know that they can come to my office to just chat about how their day is going, if there is an issue they want to address, or if they have ideas about who we can be as an institution and as a school. My door is open for students to come with their ideas and thoughts, and I'll listen and do my best to meet their expectations. My office is located in Academic Hall 403. 

What advice do you have for students?

First, make a connection on campus. Find someone, whether it is a faculty or staff member, connect with one person on campus who can be a resource for you. Secondly, advocate. Be a self-advocate. If you see something you want to change, speak up and say something. Don't be afraid that someone is going to tell you no because that's never the end of the story. Learn how to speak for yourself and have a voice. Lastly, enjoy this moment in your life. College goes by so quickly. I remember my own experience. I just saw my daughter go through it. Enjoy it! This is a moment where you're learning about your areas of interest, but you're also learning about yourself. Take the opportunity to experience it to the fullest.

Read about School of Arts and Sciences students and alumni in the stories linked below:

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