Jamaican Music

University of Minnesota Hosts Institute of Reggae Studies

University of Minnesota Hosts Institute of Reggae Studies

An International Institute of Reggae Studies was held at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis from June 24 through 28, 2019, and Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange was on hand to lend her support. The University’s School of Music was honored to host the event, the first international Summer Institute for Reggae Studies in North America. The program’s head Professor Scott Currie and other music professors welcomed Minister Grange, along with Marlon Williams, Senior Education Officer in the Core Curriculum Unit of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, and members of their delegation.

Grange stated that the action taken by the University to explore reggae music via an academic approach is similar to programs established at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, which has a Reggae Studies Unit. The Institute at the University of Minnesota is the first such initiative in the United States. Grange went on to say that the contribution of reggae to Jamaica’s revenue and competitiveness on the international stage is well documented, but not sufficiently shared. She hoped that the University of Minnesota Institute will enhance and contribute to the body of knowledge about reggae and notes the “outstanding economic contribution” of the genre to the world’s creative economy.

The University’s initiative chiefly concerns strategic development in Jamaica, and the nation is working as a partner. While the focus is on the establishment of the Reggae Studies Unit at Minnesota’s School of Music, the addition of “this revolutionary music within the academy” will also serve to enrich existing cultural diversity in the state of Minnesota, Grange said. Grange has pledged the support of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport for the success of the University of Minnesota initiatives.

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Stephanie Korney