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Barbershop Talks

In Spring 2020, the Office of the Provost launched an opportunity for faculty and staff at WVU to engage in strategic transformation at the University.

Project Leader(s): Eric Murphy, Center for Service and Learning
Collaborator(s): Classic Cutz Barbershop

A local barbershop is a special place, a place that is free from distraction, judgment and criticism. Many times, a barber serves as a mentor for marginalized members within a community, and over time the client and barber develop a special relationship. This unique connection has resulted in the idea of a WVU series of events called the Barbershop Talks: Creating Equity in Service to the Community. The “neighborhood barbershop” is used to create a safe space for men and community members to meet and hear from a guest speaker on ways to increase equity in students’ desire to further their service to the community and the University. In these informal, yet framed meetings, recruited participants will be encouraged to get a prepaid haircut while engaging in dialogue with a guest speaker (like Corey Farris, President Gee, etc.), openly discussing service to the community and the challenges encountered by underrepresented men related to equity and other critical issues that affect these men/students on our campus and local community. Besides stimulating conversations, the Barbershop Talks will be brainstorming sessions about solutions to some of the significant stresses that seem to go along with service to the community for these men/students. Another unique goal would be to challenge the colonial style of knowledge-gathering that operates from a hierarchical, top-down approach. Instead, the Barbershop Talks would encourage community members to collaborate with college students to come up with solutions to their concerns regarding service to their community and not merely answer questions generated by the facilitator. Funds from the grant will cover costs of participants’ haircuts and (possibly) a healthy snack.