Kara Cooney and Willeke Wendrich Support Program to Increase Inclusivity Within the Field of Egyptology

Kara Cooney, professor of Egyptian Art and Architecture, chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, and core faculty member of the Cotsen Institute has been instrumental in the creation of an eight-week program to increase inclusivity within the field of Egyptology, in collaboration with Howard University. Willeke Wendrich, director of the Cotsen Institute, will be one of the volunteer guest lecturers in the course designed to offer a pipeline program for Black students.

“Summer Research Internship and Pathway to PhDs in Ancient Egyptian, North African, and Western Asian Studies” will start this summer. Four to five students from historically Black colleges and universities will be brought to UCLA to learn about the field of study, while receiving mentorship and support from faculty that will extend beyond the program. Participants will also receive a stipend of about $4,000, enrollment in the course, air transportation to Los Angeles, room and board in UCLA’s student housing, and free trips around Los Angeles, including admission to museums or special events.

Together with Jonathan Winnerman, academic administrator at the Ancient Studies program, Cooney looked critically at the field of Egyptology before submitting an application for this initiative in early winter 2020. “A small investment of time and money can make a huge change in a small field,” Cooney said. “If we can get that pipeline rolling, we can help students make a dent in American Egyptology and its representation.”

Cooney and Winnerman will serve as the primary instructors of the course and plan to bring Mario Beatty, associate professor of Afro-American studies at Howard University, to UCLA for a week during the program to co-teach and help mentor students. Following the end of the program, Beatty will continue to support students on campus at both Howard University and other historically Black colleges and universities.

In addition to Wendrich, other notable faculty invited for the program include Catherine Bonesho, Asma Sayeed, William Schniedewind, and other professors in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. They all volunteered to give guest lectures on their areas of expertise and answer questions about graduate programs in Near Eastern Studies. Several graduate students have volunteered to meet with the students in the program and accompany them on outings throughout Los Angeles. “This is not just a summer-long program, but an ongoing mentorship that will continue for years. We work with these students, one-on-one—even after the program—to help them with their research projects and even with applications to graduate school,” Winnerman noted.

Published on April 22, 2022.