By Kasy Long
Oct 6, 2022
Dr. Adeyemi Doss loves to mentor students, broaden perspectives, and shape minds. As Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Department of Multidisciplinary Studies, he has the opportunity to accomplish all that and more.
Doss inspires students with classes on Black masculinity, contemporary social problems, poverty, and other culturally relevant courses, including one that looks at perspectives on hip-hop music and social justice.
His newest course, which he’s teaching in Fall 2022, discusses Black representation in horror films.
“I create a space where everyone can learn,” Doss said, explaining that his class sessions rely on discussions rather than PowerPoint presentations and lectures. “I want my students to read and reflect. I want to challenge students and teach them how to learn. There is a beautiful joy in discussions.”
Doss describes himself as a lifelong student. That’s because he never stops learning – even as an instructor. His research is shaped by a growing trend toward producing scholarships that address issues facing African American men and boys. His work raises important questions about Black subjectivity, patterns of Black spatial mobility, and embodied resistance.
Throughout his research, Doss uses critical thinking to consider different issues that affect people – especially African Americans – and how these individuals can also affect others.
“I’m always learning, and I want my research to help my students in their studies,” Doss expressed.
When Doss considers how to present research and ideas to his students, he asks himself: “What do they want to learn?” Doss is determined to present students with practical, real-life scenarios that reflect everyday issues they face. He creates classes around their realities while also presenting classical material in the field of sociology.
Throughout this process, Doss is always impressed with his students’ work and how they apply themselves to learn new material they might never have considered before.
“Today’s students are different from my generation. When I look at these students, they’re more creative in terms of their thought process, trying to figure out ways to create different things for themselves and for their communities,” he explained. “These students that we have [at Indiana State] are amazing students. We have a lot of first-generation students who come in and try to find their way. Just to see them grow over time, even in my class, it’s an amazing experience.”
Creativity is a driving force for Doss as he designs new, exciting courses for his students, including his popular course on hip-hop and social justice. Doss challenges his students to review hip-hop music as sociologists. They learn to view hip-hop artists as storytellers figuring out how to leave their mark on the world.
“It’s a class where I use hip-hop as a way of teaching sociology. I let my students know in the beginning that we have to get in the mindset of looking at hip-hop as sociologists because they [hip-hop artists] use what C. Wright Mills coined as the ‘sociological imagination,’ where you go in and make the familiar strange,” Doss explained. “They’re giving us stories about what’s going on in their communities. If we understand the history of hip-hop, it comes out of poverty. It comes out of that struggle that we see in different communities today.”
Students examine the social and historical framework of how society perceives hip-hop music. Then, they engage in conversations to understand the social-justice issues associated with the music genre. Students are assigned to reflect on rap lyrics and to write their own hip-hop lyrics.
For their final project, students learn about the history of graffiti art. They demonstrate their creativity with a hands-on graffiti art mural near Indiana State’s Art Annex.
“It’s amazing to see students take the material to a new level. Students come into the class from every community to talk about hip-hop and to also create hip-hop,” said Doss. “At the end of the day, hip-hop is telling a story, and some of those stories are about hardships and others are stories of joy. We really do a lot with this material.”
Doss isn’t a stranger to creating art. While quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic, Doss taught himself how to paint portraits using oil. He uses his imagination to create art and reflect on what artists contribute to society. Many of these paintings are on display in his campus office.
In his classes, particularly in the Honors College course on Black masculinity, Doss uses the chalkboard to draw diagrams. This enables students to see societal issues in a creative way.
“I try to enhance my teaching by bringing in the arts because there is definitely a space for it,” he said.
Doss also extends his influence beyond the classroom. Across the campus community, he has been instrumental in shaping the minds of young African American students. Through the Charles E. Brown African American Cultural Center, he has advised the Brotherhood of Successful Scholars – a student-run organization designed to increase the retention rate of Indiana State’s minority students.
Striving to be a mentor, Doss assists his students with questions about graduate school programs, academics, or other problems.
“I try to give back to my students however I can, in and out of the classroom,” he said.
Teaching doesn’t feel like a job to Doss. He’s helping students grow and creating classroom environments where they can discover their talents.
Students in the Department of Multidisciplinary Studies are surrounded by passionate, dedicated individuals like Doss who prepare students for their next steps following graduation. Professors are counselors and mentors. Through unique, engaging classes and creative learning spaces, students have the tools to learn more about themselves.
“The classes we teach prepare students for the next level of their college careers,” Doss said. “It doesn’t stop at four years. You have to think beyond the four years you’re here [at Indiana State].”
Sycamores discover their creativity at Indiana State. Meanwhile, they happily accept challenging courses – from professors like Doss – that push them to think outside the box, consider new perspectives, and find joy in learning. Because creative thinking begins with BLUE!