The Institute of Haitian Studies (IHS) at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, was founded in 1992 by Dr. Bryant C. Freeman. Dr. Freeman is a Professor Emeritus of African and African-American Studies, and taught at KU from 1971 until his retirement in 2007. He has published several books on Haitian Creole language and culture. Thanks to Dr. Freeman's research on Haiti, French, and Haitian Creole, and his initiative in founding the IHS, KU was one of the first two universities in the midwest to begin offering classes in Haitian Creole.
Housed in the Department of African and African American Studies (Bailey Hall, Room 11), and directed by Cécile Accilien, the Institute of Haitian Studies' main goal is to support and promote Haitian Studies through teaching, research, invited speakers, conferences, symposia, and community engagement activities. Our mission includes examining Haiti’s importance in the Americas as the first Black republic, as well as its historical, geopolitical, and cultural connections with the United States. We also promote the Haitian Creole language, the largest type of Creole spoken by Creole communities around the world, through the teaching and dissemination of Haitian Creole. Through Kansas University’s Scholar Works, a number of materials in Haitian Creole are available for the public’s use.
The significance of Haitian Studies at KU was demonstrated soon after the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti. In July 2011, KU supported a group of KU scholars who traveled to Haiti as part of the Haiti Research Initiative to partner with scholars, grassroots organizations, government officials and civic leaders to work on sustainable programs to help in the rebuilding effort. One of the group’s main objectives was to understand the impact of the earthquake and go beyond the media’s simplistic representation. As a result of this trip, the group published The Faces of Haiti: Resolute in Reform, Resistance, and Recovery.