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Dr. Nik Heynen Leads Students at Five Day Penn Center Research Residency

Dr. Heynen poses in front of a bookcase

This past June, students and faculty from universities across the Southeast united at the Penn Center National Historic Landmark District on St. Helena Island, SC for a series of discussions, community conversations, workshops, educational excursions, and place-based studies on the themes of Land, Liberation, and Justice. The Penn Center, formerly one of the nation’s first schools for formerly enslaved people, is now the site of a litany of research activities aimed at better understanding the history, culture, and legacy of coastal island Gullah Geechee communities.

According to UGA Wilson Center Associate Academic Director, Barbara McCaskill, “The summer research residencies are important to the Culture and Community partnership because they facilitate student engagement with their peers across a variety of disciplines and institutions to learn about the history, culture, art, and accomplishments of rural Black southerners and Gullah Geechee people.”

Distinguished Research of Geography Professor Nik Heynen led students in various learning experiences and activities that had educational ties to courses at their home institutions. One of these learning opportunities was an indigo-dyeing workshop led in conjunction with Maurice Bailey, activist and director of the non-profit, Save Our Legacy Ourself. Dr. Heynen has had a long supportive partnership with Mr. Bailey through his contributions towards restoring heritage crops, such as indigo, on Sapelo island “in order to enable a future for Gullah/Geechee people in the face of development on the island.”


Distinguished Research Professor, Visiting Scholar, Spelman College, Co-Director, UGA's Cornelia Walker Bailey Program on Land and Agriculture

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