Hip-hop literacy & urban youth scholar Ernest Morrell to speak at commencement

April 12, 2017

Ernest Morrell, an education researcher known for empowering change for young people through today’s classrooms, will speak to spring 2017 graduates of the Michigan State University College of Education on May 7, 2017.

Morrell is the Macy Professor of Education and director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. He was formerly an MSU faculty member in teacher education.

Ernest Morrell has helped educators see how genres from popular culture, such as hip-hop, can be used to help urban youth master key components of the English language arts curriculum,” said Robert E. Floden, dean of the College of Education. “As director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Teachers College, he has developed and taught courses for teachers, drawing on the resources of Harlem.

“Prof. Morrell began his faculty career in our college, so we’re happy to welcome him back.”

Many people consider Morrell’s work to be the impetus for using hip-hop, and other forms of literacy influential with youth, as a bridge to engaging with canonical, or traditional, texts taught in school. He advocates for teaching methods and forms of research that empower students to take ownership of their own learning—and the changes they want to see in their own communities.

“He just has an amazing way of putting things in perspective, and really telling people the work we do with young people is important and has potential to change lives,” said Assistant Professor Terry Flennaugh, who coordinates Urban Education Initiatives in the College of Education and worked with Morrell as a doctoral student at UCLA. “I remember him saying, we don’t need any more mediocracy in the world, we need people that are really committed to change and justice.”

This year, there are 477 graduating seniors in the MSU College of Education, which includes majors in Elementary Education, Special Education, Kinesiology and Athletic Training.

The College of Education’s Baccalaureate Commencement Ceremony will be held from 4-6 p.m. May 7 at the Breslin Center. The event is free and open to the public.