About the TWC


What Does “Third World” Mean? 

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.

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.

Read more about TWC History on Brown University's 250th Anniversary website.