Programs and Services

To honor Frederick Douglass' commitment to education and diversity, The Kutztown University Frederick Douglass Institute sponsors the following programs and services.

  • U.K. Study Abroad
    U.K. Study Abroad

    The Kutztown FDI UK Study Abroad program is a three-week program that will be offered in Summer 2020. Students will fly to Manchester, England, to learn about the transatlantic slave trade and Frederick Douglass' legacy in the United Kingdom.

    Participants will take HIS 145: Search for Social Justice through Kutztown University with instruction from the KU FDI director Dr. Maria Sanelli. The course will focus on experiential learning, and will feature tours, lectures, and travel throughout the U.K. and Scotland.

    This year, participants will also have the option of taking EDU 496: Multicultural Education through Kutztown University with Dr. Pabon, from the Secondary Education Department. 

    Students will be housed in residence halls on the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) campus. UCLan is the home of the Institute for Black Atlantic Research (IBAR). IBAR will assist the program by offering discount housing, free tours, experts, guest speakers and transportation.

    The Summer 2020 Study Abroad will be having their second study abroad program facilitated by the FDI. Students can expect transformative, engaging, and fun learning experience that will drive their curiosity and passion.

  • Scholar-in-Residence

    For the past twelve years, the KU FDI has hosted a "scholar-in-residence" by offering a Frederick Douglass Scholar Fellowship program. This initiative gives teaching opportunities to culturally diverse post-graduate students who are entering the final year of a terminal degrees and/or doctoral program. The chosen participants teach as a yearlong temporary professor. The Frederick Douglass Scholar Fellowship is designed specifically for growth and mentorship, as well as demonstrating KU's strong commitment to diversity. 

    For the 2019-2020 academic year, we are fortunate to have two scholars-in-residence. Our first scholar, Professor Diamond Howell-Shields is currently an instructor in the Secondary Education Department. Professor Howell-Shields will be assisting students in the research preparation for the Undergraduate Research Conference that will take place on Friday, April 17th, 2020 at Kutztown University. In addition, Professor David Stephens, an instructor in the English Department, will be coaching KU students for the Douglass Debate Society event that will take place on Thursday, April 16, 2020 at Kutztown University. 

  • Celebration of Black Composers Concert
    Celebration of Black Female Composers Concert 

    In honor of Black History month and National Women's History Month, the legacy of Frederick Douglass, and the contributions of Black female composers throughout history, the KU FDI will be hosting a concert on March 27, 2020 at Kutztown University's Schaeffer Auditorium. The concert will serve as a celebration and a competition. Prior to the event, local and regional performers will be invited to compete in three categories-KU, high school, and community. In total, $4500 in prizes will be granted to first, second and third place winners in each category. The winning acts will perform at the concert, interspersed with contributions and spoken words artists. 

    To participate please fill out the link below:

  • Undergraduate Research Conference
    Undergraduate Research Conference 

    For the past decade, the KU FDI has consistently sent students to the statewide FDI undergraduate conference to present their research on diversity-related topics. The FDI undergraduate conference is attended by all schools in the FDI Collaborative. This year, the Frederick Douglass Institute at Kutztown University has the honor to host the 20th annual Frederick Douglass Institute Collaborative Undergraduate/Graduate Research Conference, which will be on April 17, 2020. The theme of this years conference is "Seeking to Restore Justice: Finding Positive Change in a Post-Truth Era." 

    To submit a proposal: go to

    and fill in your information and abstract.

  • KU FDI Debate Team
    KU FDI Debate Team 

    In the spirit of Frederick Douglass' legacy as a gifted orator, most schools in the FDI Collaborative develop a FDI debate team. Teams compete against each other at a debate tournament over a predetermined topic. This years debate topic focuses on : The United States Federal Government should provide reparations for American slavery. 

    The debate coach and FDI Scholar, Professor Stephens  will lead students in the FDI debate team that will compete against other debate teams. FDI graduate assistant, Yessica Gutierrez will help facilitate discussions. In addition, students will be assisted in research by Stefani Gomez, Information Literacy Librarian and Sylvia Pham, Reference Librarian who are both members of the FDI Advisory Committee. 

  • Discussion Series
     Discussion Series 

    Every semester, the KU FDI facilitates three presentations by various scholars on topics related to cultural diversity. Together, the six presentations constitute each academic year's discussion series.

    The 2019 Fall Discussion series included talks from FDI Director Dr. Maria Sanelli, and the two Scholars-in-residence Professor David Stephens and Professor Diamond Howell-Shields. The topics included "Intersectional Communities, The Legacy of Toni Morrison and Intellectual Thought and Educational Practices." All of the discussion series were diverse topics that engaged students, staff and faculty members of Kutztown University. 

  • Undergraduate Internship and Scholarships
    Undergraduate Internship and Scholarships

    Undergraduate and graduate internships and scholarships are available for the summer 2020 Study Abroad to England and Scotland. Recipients are selected based on financial need, ability, and cultural diversity. For more information, contact FDI Director, Dr. Maria Sanelli. 

    Maria Sanelli, Ed.D.
    History Department

  • Graduate Assistantships
    Graduate Assistantships

    The Frederick Douglass assistantship was awarded to many graduate students in the fields of student affairs, psychology, social work, and public administration over the last decade. In fall 2018, Fatima Freeman, M.S. candidate in Social Work, helped facilitate the fall discussion series, distribute posters and created posts for the Institute. In the Spring of 2019, Corrine Smith, M.Ed. candidate in Student Affairs, was hired to specifically help improve the FDI's social media presence. Corrine created a social media strategy for the Institute, as well as coached our debate team, assisted our Scholar in the planning and implementation of the Celebration of Black Composers Concert and assisted the Director with the Spring Discussion Series. This semester, Yessica Gutierrez, M.Ed. candidate in Student Affairs, was hired to help facilitate Discussion Series, showcase FDI events, create and distribute flyers and show student participation on our social media pages. Graduate students are selected based on a desire and ability to promote cultural diversity and social equity on the Kutztown University campus.

  • Social Justice Teach-Ins
    Social Justice Teach-Ins

     The Frederick Douglass Institute at Kutztown University is currently completing a five-year cooperative agreement with the National Park Service. Currently, Dr. Sanelli is training JROTC officers on behalf of the National Park Service, to replicate the KU FDI Social Justice Teach-In. 

    The Social Justice Teach-Ins give Kutztown University students the opportunity to travel and engage with both high school and university students from different regions of the country, as well as learn from JROTC instructors (veterans), park rangers, and university professors.