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African American Research and Service Institute


The African American Research and Service Institute is housed in the African American Studies Department at Ohio University, one of the oldest African American Studies departments in the nation. Established in 2007, the mission of AARSI is to 1) expand the knowledge of the history, experiences, and contributions of people of African descent in the United States and abroad and 2) encourage engagement around these issues within Ohio University, the city of Athens, and surrounding communities. 


Ohio University has a rich tradition of African American Studies scholarship. AARSI seeks to build on and encourage this legacy through supporting an array of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of the issues and experiences of African American culture and life. AARSI is committed to advancing intellectually engaging scholarship and service that challenges convention and advances justice. AARSI fosters this work through drawing on the broad scholarly strength of the African American Studies Department faculty, collaboration with scholars in other departments at Ohio University, and partnerships with African American Studies departments throughout the state and region.   

Research initiatives include:

  • AARSI Undergraduate Fellowship
    • AARSI fellows will be selected annually. Fellows will research and publicly present a final project such as a scholarly paper, newspaper article, or creative project.
  • Sponsoring Partner of Ted Rose Lecture Series
    • AARSI collaborates with the African American Studies Department to select and host speakers for the Ted Rose Lecture Series.
  • Annual Faculty Research Colloquium
    • Each year, AARSI invites faculty from Ohio University and throughout the region to present their work-in-progress to a critical but supportive audience. Faculty, students and members of the public are encouraged to attend the research colloquium to participate in an active academic conversation.
  • Undergraduate Research Conference
    • Once a year, AARSI will co-sponsor an undergraduate research conference with other African American Studies departments throughout the Ohio Valley. Participating institutions will host the conferences on a rotating basis. This conference showcases and encourages undergraduate and graduate scholarly research in the field of African American and Africana Studies. AARSI will provide scholarships for OHIO students when the conference is hosted at other institutions, depending on funding availability.


AARSI is also a service-oriented institute. The institute is committed to developing programs designed to facilitate greater cooperation and engagement between Ohio University and the surrounding communities. As part of this commitment, AARSI hosts and facilitates regular open meetings to promote discussion surrounding issues of African American life in Athens and the state of Ohio more broadly. Additionally, all AARSI programs and events are geared to be open and accessible to the public. AARSI service initiatives provide research informed educational, cultural, social and recreational programs, and activities in order to perpetuate and strengthen African American identity, life, and culture. Service initiatives focus broadly on the areas of: Health & Wellness, Racial & Social Justice, Preservation of Oral History Archive, Economic Development & Policy.

Service initiatives include:

  • Alumni Outreach Initiative
    • AARSI draws on the strength of the African American Studies alumni in order to highlight the positive impact of alumni throughout the region. AARSI is committed to strengthening the relationship with this alumni network and encourages active alumni participation through invited talks and connecting current students with alumni.
  • AARSI Workshops
    • AARSI periodically hosts workshops facilitated by faculty, community members, students, and alumni. These workshops are driven by participant interest in the issues surrounding African American life in the region.
  • AARSI Service Award
    • This annual award recognizes individuals who have engaged in exceptional service to the university and community. Awards are made on the basis of distinguished service in one or more of the AARSI core thematic areas.
  • AARSI Community Internship
    • AARSI will work with interested students and community partners to help find internships that offer the opportunity to join areas of academic interest with a broader commitment to social justice.