The Third World Center (TWC, the Center) seeks to provide students at Brown University a variety of opportunities to engage in the academic endeavors of the University and to integrate their curricular and co-curricular interests. Accordingly, the Center’s mission is fourfold:
- To provide an environment in which Arab, Asian, Black, Latino, Multiracial, and Native American students can feel comfortable celebrating their cultural heritages;
- To provide a base from which Third World students can have an impact as a community at Brown;
- To expand the social awareness of the University community with regards to current issues involving the status of Third World people at Brown University and in society at large; and
- To equip students with life-long skills to aid them as they navigate their journey at Brown and beyond.
The overarching purpose of the Center is to make significant contributions to the personal and intellectual growth of students at Brown.
The Center is a proponent of cross-cultural understanding. By way of an orientation of all student staff, we instill the value of the study and exploration of race, ethnicity, class, gender and sexual orientation as a mode by which students can better understand themselves as well as the world around them. The student staff gain exposure public speaking and writing skills, and research topics related to the -isms. Such exposure is also amplified via the Third World Transition Program, a pre-orientation journey of self-definition, cross cultural understanding and community building for incoming first year students.
The Center attempts to prepare students with the skills to live and work in global context. It provides guidance and services to all students with a focus on the American minority experience.
The Third World Center emerged in response to the needs of students following protests in 1968 and 1975. Established in 1976, the Third World Center was designed to serve the interests and meet the needs of all students of color and to promote racial and ethnic pluralism in the Brown community. Originally housed in the basement of Churchill House, the Third World Center was relocated in 1986 to Partridge Hall on 68 Brown Street, directly across the street from the Faunce House Arch and the Main Green.
Brown’s Third World Center provides an arena in which students can explore cultural heritages and learn about race and ethnicity as components of American identity. The center, in collaboration with student organizations, academic and co-curricular departments and centers, sponsors over 250 lectures and programs throughout the academic year to which all Brown students are invited.
The core functions of the Third World Center are to:
- Serve as a source of support for American minorities and International students.
- Build a sense of community and University ownership among incoming students.
- Expose the campus community to issues of race, ethnicity, class, gender, differing abilities, heterosexism and homophobia through different modes of media and presentation.
- Cultivate civil and responsible student leadership.
- Provide students with past history and understanding of Third World student activism at Brown.
- Increase opportunities for students to interact with faculty outside of the classroom.
- Assure student access to curricular and co-curricula resources on campus.
- Provide academic advising.
- Implement the Third World Transition Program.
- Implement the Minority Peer Counselor Program.
- Implement the Minority Peer Counselor Friend Program.
- Hold orientations, open houses and training programs for current students, prospective students and their families.
- Implement eleven (11) History Months & Culture Weeks
Students first began using the term "Third World" over "minority" because of the negative connotations of inferiority and powerlessness with which the word "minority" is often associated. Although the term "Third World" may have negative socioeconomic connotations outside of Brown, Third World students here continue to use the term in the context originating form the Civil Rights Movement.
Frantz Fanon, author of The Wretched of the Earth (1961), urged readers to band together against oppression and colonialism, by pioneering a "Third Way" meaning an alternative to the ways of the first world (U.S. & Europe) and also the second world (USSR & Eastern Europe). When students adopted the term "Third World", they use it in the sense of a cultural model of empowerment and liberation.
Brown students of color continue to use the term "Third World" in a similar fashion: to describe a consciousness which recognizes the commonalities and links shared by their diverse communities. Using the term "Third World" reminds students of the power they have in coalescing, communicating, and uniting across marginalized communities to create a safer and more open place for all individuals. This consciousness at Brown also reflects a right, a willingness, and a necessity for people of color and others to define themselves instead of being defined by others.
The concept of "Third World" has special meaning for minority students at Brown. It is not to be confused with the economic definition of the term used commonly in our society today, but understood as a term that celebrates diverse cultures.