This course will serve as the inaugural course offering under the newly established capstone service-learning course designation ADST 483. We will explore interchanges among critical race theory, black feminist thought, and black women’s health, with emphasis on the role that the HIV/AIDS crisis has played in networking these discourses at the site of hip hop-inflected literary, artistic, and musical representations of black women’s bodies.

Required readings for the course will include Quinn Gentry’s Black Women’s Risk for HIV: Rough Living (2007); Tricia Rose’s Longing to Tell: Black Women Talk about Sexuality & Intimacy (2004); Dorie Gilbert and Ednita Wright’s African American Women & HIV/AIDS: Critical Responses (2002); Sister Souljah’s The Coldest Winter Ever (1999); Pearl Cleage’s What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day (1997); and Sapphire’s PUSH (1996). We will also analyze the critically-acclaimed HBO film Life Support (2008) and the award-winning BET, Rap-It-Up/Black AIDS short film Walking on Sunshine (2005). Finally, we will review scholarly articles on K12 school-based service-learning in preparation for fulfilling the required service-learning project, “Let’s Get It Started: The Traveling Health Fair Project”.

The goals of the service-learning project are implicit in its title. “Let’s Get It Started!” strives to energize and inspire you, the students in ADST 483, as you apply what you learn over the course of the semester about black women’s health in the age of Hip Hop and HIV/AIDS to the design, organization, and implementation of a community-based project that fosters the health and wellbeing of K12 students throughout New Orleans. The community-based project is a health fair that will travel to three New Orleans public schools. Each student will be assigned to one of five committees: a clinical committee, a procurement committee, a site coordinating committee, a publicity committee, and an assessments committee. Committees will work from August through October meeting your various charges in relation to planning, implementing, and assessing the outcome of the health fair. A detailed description of this project follows the calendar for the course.


This course aims to:

  • Enhance students’ comprehension of the cultural dimensions of health and environmental issues impacting black women;
  • Expand students’ problem-solving skills as they relate to health issues affecting local communities; and
  • Prepare students to identify, design, and implement projects that foster healthy K12 student populations.

Learning Outcomes & Assessment

  • Weekly quizzes will be administered to insure that students are keeping up with readings and to measure students’ reading comprehension.
  • Every two weeks hypothetical questions will be posted to blackboard; the questions will incorporate factual data about HIV/AIDS and black women. Students will develop roadmaps, or plans of action, that point the way to solving the hypothetical. Class discussion will provide a context for students to discuss their roadmaps/plans of action with one another and learn from one another’s suggestions.
  • Drawing from course readings & discussions, and using their roadmaps/plans of action as guides, students will organize and host a health fair at three different K12 sites. Students will document all phases of planning, organizing, and implementation and complete exit interviews about their experiences completing the project.

Required Readings

Gentry, Quinn. Black Women’s Risk for HIV: Rough Living (2007)
Rose, Tricia. Longing to Tell: Black Women Talk about Sexuality & Intimacy (2004)
Gilbert, Dorie and Ednita Wright. African American Women & HIV/AIDS: Critical Responses (2002)
Sister Souljah. The Coldest Winter Ever (1999)
Cleage, Pearl . What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day (1997)
Sapphire. PUSH (1996)
Lakin, Rebecca and Annette Mahoney. “Empowering Youth to Change Their World: Identifying Key Components of a Community Service Program to Promote Positive Development.” Journal of School Psychology (December 2006): 513-531. (AVAILABLE ON BLACKBOARD)

Course Products and Weight:

1. Quizzes 20%
2. Hypotheticals 20%
3. Committee Reports 20%
4. Discussion 20%
5. Health Fair Report 10%
6. Exit Interview 10%
TOTAL   100%

Course Requirements & Rules

  1. All assignments must be completed to receive a grade in this course.
  2. The service-learning component of this course is not optional and the product of your service-learning effort is non-negotiable.
  3. No woman or man is an island. This course thrives on collaboration, candor, constructive criticism, creativity, and general good-spiritedness. If you do not like working in groups, thinking outside the box, receiving constructive feedback, giving constructive feedback, working with children, or young adults, and dealing with tough, sensitive issues, you should drop this course, because you will not enjoy it.
  4. The University Honor Code applies to all activities, communications, and products of this course. If you are unfamiliar with the code, you need to read it, because you will be held to it this semester. The Code can be found at http://www.tulane.edu/~jruscher/dept/Honor.Code.html.
  5. I am happy to accommodate students with registered disabilities; please contact me at your earliest convenience for further discussion. For more information on Disability Services at Tulane, please visit http://erc.tulane.edu/disability/.


8/24 COURSE OVERVIEW; Lakin & Mahoney
8/26 Service-learning Lakin & Mahoney, continued
8/28 HIV/AIDS: Clinical Overview (Guest Speaker, School of Public Health)
8/31 Black Women’s Health: General Introduction (Guest Speaker, School of Medicine) 9/2 Black Women & HIV/AIDS: Cultural Myths, Facts, and Factors (Guest Speaker, Community Activist)
9/4 Hip Hop: Literature, Art, Music (listening and viewing set) *Hypothetical #1
9/9 Hip Hop: Literature, Art, and Music (listening and viewing set)
9/11 Critical Race Theory: A General Introduction Rose
9/14 Black Feminist Thought: A General Introduction Rose continued
9/16 Hip Hop & HIV/AIDS: Discursive Interchanges & Overlaps Gentry
9/18 Black Women’s Health, Hip Hop, and HIV/AIDS Gentry continued *Hypothetical #2
9/21 Black Women’s Health, Hip Hop, and HIV/AIDS Gilbert & Wright
9/23 Black Women’s Health, Hip Hop, and HIV/AIDS Gilbert & Wright continued
9/30 Life Support (viewing) *Hypothetical #3
10/2 Life Support (viewing & discussion)
10/5 Life Support (discussion)
10/9 Walking on Sunshine (viewing)
10/12 Walking on Sunshine (discussion)
10/14 COMMITTEE REPORTS *Hypothetical #5
10/19 The Coldest Winter Ever
10/21 The Coldest Winter Ever
10/23 The Coldest Winter Ever
10/26 COMMITTEE REPORTS *Hypothetical #6
10/28 PUSH
10/30 PUSH
11/2 PUSH
11/6 *Hypothetical #7
11/9 What Looks Like Crazy
11/11 What Looks Like Crazy
11/13 What Looks Like Crazy
11/16 Black Women’s Health, Hip Hop, and HIV/AIDS Summative Remarks
11/18 *Hypothetical #8
11/30 DRY RUN: “Let’s Get It Started!”
12/2 PROPOSED DATES FOR FAIR: 12/1-12/3 12/4

*Health Fair Reports will be due on the scheduled final examination date


Let’s Get It Started!: The Traveling Health Fair Project is the required service-learning component of ADST 483: Black Women’s Health in the Era of Hip Hop & HIV/AIDS. The goal of this project is four-fold. First, it provides a context for students enrolled in ADST 483 to apply what they learn over the course of the semester to the development and implementation of a community-based project. Second, it provides a medium for me to assess student achievement in relation to the general objectives of the course as well as its specific service-learning requirement. Third, it provides a means for building synergy among Tulane’s schools of Liberal Arts, Science & Engineering, Medicine, and Public Health & Tropical Medicine, a synergy that strengthens ADST’s capacity to attract students of diverse professional interests, backgrounds, and trainings to the program as majors, minors, or partners in community engagement. And fourth, if successful, the project will serve as an easily replicable model for expanding the reach, effectiveness, and efficiency of service-learning opportunities offered through ADST.

Participation in this project is required of all students enrolled in ADST 483. After the ADD/DROP date, each student will be assigned to one of five committees: a clinical committee, a procurement committee, a site coordinating committee, a publicity committee, and an assessments committee. Committee members will work from August through October meeting your various charges.

The clinical committee will consult with Drs. Nancy Mock and Tom Farley, project advisors, to discuss liability management and to determine the structural organization of the fair. The format that I envision and have discussed with Drs. Mock and Farley is one where three things will happen at the same time.

1. Students will receive information about health issues, such as hypertension, HIV/AIDS, asthma, Types 1 and 2 Diabetes, anemia, and infant mortality, via brochures & pamphlets, video infomercials, and representatives from community-based agencies and organizations specializing in research and/or the delivery of services related to these issues.

2. Students will receive rapid tests for, among other things, blood pressure, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, and HIV and have the opportunity to receive current immunization shots.

3. Doctors, medical researchers, and other healthcare professionals will be on site in rotating shifts to deliver “power talks” about the work they do and take questions from students. The format that I envision may not be appropriate for the partnering sites. If immunizations and screenings are provided, consent forms will have to be completed by parents/guardians of all student-participants. Thus, the charge of the clinical committee will be to consult with me and our advisors to determine appropriate formats for the fairs and to insure that the appropriate legal/ethical measures have been taken to protect K12 student-participants.

The procurement committee will plan for and obtain incentives, giveaways, brochures, door prizes, and other promotional items. This committee will be responsible for decorating the day of the fair and for securing and setting up supplies & equipments, including tables, tablecloths, audiovisual support, extension cords, surge protectors, pens, notepads, garbage bags, tape, scissors, and staplers. This committee will also manage all food on site for volunteers and school administrators.

The site coordinating committee will be responsible for all pre-fair communications with individual volunteers, organizations, and other service providers. You will meet & greet volunteers and agency/organization representatives; escort them to their locations at the fair; and be available to answer any questions that our volunteers may have.

The publicity committee will contact potential exhibitors and corporate sponsors, such as local health spa and health food store owners (I have been in touch with Raymond Addison, owner of a Smoothie King franchise in New Orleans about providing free smoothies on site during at least one of the fairs; we are working out the related logistics). The publicity committee will facilitate all media communications and insure that Tulane University is properly represented in these communications.

The assessments committee will collaborate with me to design evaluation instruments for each component of the fair to be completed by students, volunteers, and school administrators. The committee will be responsible for distributing and collecting all evaluations. The entire class will collaborate to generate a report based on the outcome of the assessments.

Let’s Get It Started! is a project within a course that involves undergraduate students in the formal study of health issues that impact black women. These issues are not without relevance to the lives of nonblack women and, I would add, men of all races and ethnicities. The course addresses two phenomena—hip hop and HIV/AIDS—that have broad-ranging cultural implications for men, women, and children throughout the world. By examining these issues through the lens of critical race theory, black feminist thought, and black women’s health, the course seeks to appeal to students with academic interests in public health, gender & sexuality studies, law, and critical theory. If successful in enrolling students from a wide range of disciplines, the course will also succeed by providing a context for students to collaborate with one another on a community-based project. The truly interdisciplinary nature of the course, coupled with the service-learning project, underscores the value of building alliances across departments, colleges, and schools and with the local community to foster undergraduate education at Tulane University.

Let’s Get It Started! will provide students enrolled in ADST 483 many opportunities for student-faculty collaborative learning. As previously noted, the clinical committee will require members to consult regularly with health professionals recruited to the project to insure legal/ethical compliances and to design appropriate fairs for each site. I will supervise all committees and consult with each committee throughout the planning, organization, and implementation of the project.