IRADAC HISTORY AND MISSION
The Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean, was founded to address the African presence in the Americas through scholarly research and public programs for the betterment of the lay public as well as the academic community. Our mission is to foster understanding and critical interpretation of the history, development, conditions, status and cultures of the diverse peoples of African descent living in the various societies of the Western Hemisphere. The Institute's primary focus on the black experience in Canada and the United States, Central and South America, and the Caribbean does not preclude any region of the African Diaspora from the scope of its multidisciplinary scholarship and public programs.
As a component of our mission, IRADAC will develop and facilitate the creation of a community of independent scholars at the City University of New York interested in the study of the African Diaspora. In addition, the Institute will inform and influence the formulation of public and academic policy, particularly with respect to education, through its research initiatives, and public programs.
The Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean, commonly referred to by its acronym IRADAC (EAR-a-dak) was founded by the City University of New York in 1994. From 1994 through 2007, IRADAC was jointly housed at the CUNY Graduate Center [GC] and City College CCNY].Its main office was at City College.It was there that IRADAC's art gallery sponsored art shows by various artists of the African Diaspora. IRADAC was given the task of strengthening CUNY's capacity to intellectually address the African presence in the Americas through scholarly research, lectures, forums, and conferences, as well as public programs for the lay public. The institute's primary focus on the black experience in North America, South America and the Caribbean did not preclude programming dealing with the arts, culture and politics on the African continent
The first Director of IRADAC was Professor Edmund Gordon. He was followed as Director by Professor of English, James de Jongh. Professor DeJongh directed IRADAC for over a decade. Professor Deborah Vietze served as Associate Director. Under both directors, Mrs. Gloria Thomas functioned as a crucial administrative assistant, particularly in the arena of organizing art shows and generating public intellectual outreach to the City College and Harlem communities.
During its first twenty years, the institute was responsible for generating Africana-oriented, intellectual programming throughout CUNY's four year colleges (eg. Herbert Lehman; Queens; Hunter College). However, due to limited resources, IRADAC's programming did not usually extend beyond the Graduate Center or City College. In the summer and fall of 2007, IRADAC's mission was altered. No longer would IRADAC be jointly based at City College and the Graduate Center. IRADAC became a Graduate Center institute. Similarly, IRADAC relinquished its responsibilities for CUNY-wide programming and concentrated on developing programming at the Graduate Center. In many respects the task of IRADAC is to generate an intellectual presence for Africana Studies issues at the Graduate Center. This can take various forms: sponsored lectures, symposia, conferences, study groups, poetry readings, etc. The significance of IRADAC has grown as a result of the increasing interest in the Africana Studies Certificate program.
IRADAC will continue to stimulate intellectual dialogue between Africana Studies scholars housed on various campuses throughout the CUNY system. There is an incredible array of Africana Studies scholarly talent housed on the various CUNY campuses.Yet many of these scholars rarely if ever get to exchange their ideas with faculty sharing similar interests who are housed on other CUNY campuses. One aspect of IRADAC's mission is to utilize its central location at the Graduate Center to facilitate this type of intellectual exchange. Similarly, IRADAC will provide a space where individual CUNY campuses can announce to the other campuses various programmatic offerings in Africana Studies.
IRADAC will function as a space where Africana discourse and intellectual debate is nurtured at CUNY.