AFS Coordinates Advocacy Campaign for WKU Folk Studies Program and Kentucky Folklife Program

AFS News
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We’ve recently learned that the administration of Western Kentucky University has decided not to give the University’s Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology the resources it will need to replace two folk studies faculty members and to continue a fulltime folklife specialist position with the Kentucky Folklife Program (KFP), headquartered within the department since 2012. This is the latest in a series of faculty positions that have not been replaced in recent years, reducing the number of tenured/tenure track folk studies faculty from six to just two by next academic year. This decision will mean the suspension of the Department’s graduate program in folk studies.

For the past two weeks the American Folklore Society has been working diligently with field-wide partners at various institutions to advocate for the Master of Arts program in Folk Studies and the Kentucky Folklife Program at Western Kentucky University. 

AFS’s efforts include:

  • Coordinating a letter-writing campaign to leverage the perspectives of university programs across the country/globe to articulate the value of the Master of Arts program in Folk Studies and the Kentucky Folklife Program to Western Kentucky University, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and the broader field of folklore. Read the letter that AFS sent to folklore colleagues requesting support.
  • Writing to local news outlets to promote the work of the Master of Arts program in Folk Studies, raise awareness about the benefits of the program, and ensure that accurate information is being provided. Read the news story that cites AFS’s letter to the WKU Herald editors.
  • Participating in awareness-raising about the planned cuts to the program and calls to action.
  • Coordinating with alumni and field-wide efforts to communicate the impact of the Folk Studies program, the KFP, and its alumni contributions, often in leadership positions. 
  • Discussing advocacy routes with leaders in a broad range of fields including other academic humanities disciplines, state arts councils, state folklife programs, and advocates for regional arts and heritage programs to learn more about how to support university programs in the folk and traditional arts. 

AFS will continue to support faculty in the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology and all academic programs that offer training in the folk and traditional arts. 

Comments, ideas, and offers of support can be directed to [email protected]

Read the statement written by the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Read more news about advocacy efforts from the WKU Herald and WNKY:

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