Prof. Cole Wins CAS Faculty Mentoring Grant

Oct 18, 2008

Dr. Peter Cole, Associate Professor of History, has been awarded a two-year $3,000 Faculty Mentoring Grant by the WIU College of Arts and Sciences, to partially fund his new comparative transnational historical research on the international labor movement in South Africa. In an earlier exploratory visit to South Africa during his 2007-08 sabbatical, Prof. Cole made contact with Prof. Peter Alexander of South Africa's University of Johannesburg, a senior scholar in South African labor history, who will serve as Dr. Cole's scholarly mentor as he develops this new area of expertise.

Dr. Cole's investigations into the history of an international labor union (the Industrial Workers of the World, or IWW) in South Africa will complement the research behind his first book, on Philadelphia's IWW, thus allowing him to conduct truly transnational research.

Dr. Cole now has an outstanding opportunity to work with Professor Alexander, who has published multiple books and articles on South African labor history. Dr. Alexander is not only an international leader in the field of labor history but was also one of the organizers of a leading international conference on labor history, "Labour Crossings: World, Work, and History," at which Dr. Cole co-presented a paper with Dr. Lucien van der Walt.

On October 4, Dr. Cole presented a research paper based on his initial research in this subject, "Neither Color, Nor Nationality: The IWW Organizes Across the Color Line in South Africa and the United States," at the Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, held this year in Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr. Cole's new transnational research also supports WIU's commitment to greater educational opportunity, as insights from his research will allow him to begin developing a course on African history to be offered by WIU's History Department, for the first time in many years. This will dramatically enhance the quality of education available to our students.

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