Dr. Luci Fernandes

Anthropology Professor Teaches Diversity Through Music

This spring, an East Carolina University anthropology professor, Dr. Luci Fernandes, is using music to help teach diversity in her undergraduate Global Understanding classes. Fernandes’ project “Teaching Diversity Through Music,” is partially funded by a 2011-12 mini grant of $750 from the ECU Office of Equity, Diversity and Community Relations, whose purpose is to prepare students for a multicultural society.

“The ‘Teaching Diversity Through Music’ project uses popular forms of music from around the world as a means of developing cultural understanding,” said Fernandes. “This collaborative project introduces students to the cultural significance of a diverse music, drawn from a variety of popular sources. This focus helps students learn the many ways in which music relates to its cultural contexts, cultural identity and individual identity.”

Through the grant, Fernandes has implemented a collaborative project between ECU students and students in partner countries to identify, collect, analyze and share appropriate examples of popular music.

The students participate in a “World Music Song Exchange,” which includes selecting a song to send to their partner in another country. Along with the song, students include lyrics; the musical genre; a description of why they chose the song and how it relates to him or her as an individual or to overall culture; any memories the song brings up for the student; dance forms associated with the song or genre; and the cultural roots of the music and instruments used in the piece.

By exchanging musical information, students are able to learn about various cultures around the world.

“Through their encounters with the musical forms of other cultures and the analysis of the lyrics, both in the original language and English translation, students learn about the cultural traditions from which the music springs and the cultural themes that it represents,” said Fernandes.

For additional information about the project, contact Fernandes at 252-737-1072 or fernandesl@ecu.edu.