Associate Professor focuses on African American History and Amistad Law

Dr. Chanelle Rose, Associate Professor in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Dr. Chanelle Rose headshot

Dr. Rose was nominated for the DEI Faculty Research Spotlight by a Rowan University student who shared, “Dr. Rose is an incredible professor who possesses a true passion for African American history. In just two semesters with Dr. Rose, I have gained more knowledge about African Americans in the United States than I have in my life. She frequently ties in her lessons of the past to the present day, ensuring that students not only see but understand the severity of racial inequity in our country. She provides students with various resources that serve to both educate her students and encourage their activism. Dr. Rose comes into class every day prepared to inspire her students and she does just that.”

Tell us about the DEI research that you are doing:

One of my current projects focuses on strengthening the implementation of the 2002 New Jersey Amistad Law, which requires public schools to incorporate African American history into their social studies curriculum. In 2020, NJ lawmakers approved a bill that will bolster the Amistad law by putting the Amistad Commission (a 23-member body established to ensure the teaching of African American history) under the state Department of Education, tightening regulations and oversight, and mandating professional development for teachers. However, there is still a critical need to provide education majors and public-school teachers with the content knowledge required to help them develop innovative lesson plans on African American history. In the spring of 2021, I developed a Certificate in Undergraduate Studies (CUGS) proposal, entitled CUGS in NJ Amistad Law: African American Studies for Future Educators (recently approved by the Senate Curriculum Committee Chair), to give Rowan students, especially education majors, a more tailored curriculum on African American history that will better prepare them to teach this material in the classroom and/or online. In addition, I’m part of an Amistad Project/Group (established under the direction of Dean Nawal Ammar) of faculty from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and College of Education that is in the early stages of spearheading different projects related to this larger mission. Our graduate research assistant, Kevin Jablonowski, has been looking at the state and local challenges with the implementation of the law, and he’s given special attention to the Amistad Commission’s website to develop helpful tips that will make it more accessible to teachers. In addition, Provost Anthony M. Lowman has asked the Amistad group to consider building virtual reality modules on African American history.

What made you want to undertake this work:

This work is a labor of love and personal commitment to ensure that my 4-year-old Black girl can attend a school that celebrates her history and culture. But it’s also driven by my desire to create the same opportunities for other Black children to affirm their humanity alongside students of diverse ethnic backgrounds, so they can all develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the multifaceted African American experience. It is also important for students to understand that African American history is an integral part of the American story and deep-rooted struggle to develop a more perfect union. I’ve been teaching at Rowan for a little over a decade, and students of all backgrounds continue to share their frustration and disappointment with primarily learning about Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks during Black History Month. We have to do better! As the coordinator of the Africana Studies program at Rowan, I think we can play a really important role in bridging the gap between the University, public schools, and the community at large.

Why would our students at Rowan University be interested in this work?

Students at Rowan University would be interested in this work because it will have a direct impact on their development as future educators and the students they will teach. The larger goal of the Amistad Project is to provide primary sources, seminars, and workshops while cultivating community partnerships in order to equip Rowan’s education majors with the necessary resources to fully infuse African American history into their K-12 curricula. It will also align with the College of Education’s mission to advance diversity and social justice through a robust educational curriculum. I believe the University has the opportunity to serve as the flagship institution in the South Jersey region and premiere pre­service teaching program that highlights and promotes the curriculum provided by the New Jersey Amistad Commission to enforce the mandate.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your work?  

I’ve been interested in doing this kind of work for a long time. However, Dean Nawal’s (CHSS) support and Dean Jean-Marie Gaëtane’s (COE) receptiveness to her ideas has been the real game-changer. In addition, members of the Africana Studies Council —particularly Dr. Marquita Smith and Kenzo Sung—have been instrumental in the early stages of this work. Finally, Kevin Jablonowski’s research has also opened new opportunities for collaboration and effective change. This is truly an interdisciplinary undertaking.


Dr. Chanelle Rose daughter

 Dr. Chanelle Rose’s daughter with some of her favorite books