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People  •  Music, Art + Design  •  Assistant Professor

Pierre-Valery Njenji Tchetgen

Dr. Pierre-Valery Njenji Tchetgen is a Black music scholar and cultural worker at the intersection of Africana studies, literacy studies, digital humanities and drummologie. His scholarship and teaching in CAMD include expertise in Music of the African Diaspora, Hip Hop Poetry, African music theory, Experience Design, Education+XR and serious games. He is the inventor of the Drumball tangible user interface for early literacy acquisition that is inspired by the African talking drums. He is currently working on two main projects: the Urban Griot Playground ecology for early childhood pedagogy, and a book project entitled “Urban Griots: Towards a Theory of Digital Orality” exploring the implications and applications for the Diaspora of drum language innovation in the 21st century. Dr. Njenji Tchetgen (who also goes by Akwerius, or kwe for short) is the Founder and Ambassador of the Music is Healing Collective, where he uses music as a vehicle for social change to break down barriers of bias and motivate youth toward social justice in order to improve the livability and vibrancy of communities worldwide, and bring people from diverse paths together to promote Unity through Music.

Research/Publications Highlights

Tchetgen, PV., Cheung, R. (April 2020). Designing Transformation Learning to Prepare Social Justice Leaders. Principal Leadership Institute Impact Report.

Cheung, R., Tchetgen, PV. (March 2020) Laying the Foundation (LtF): A Framework for Integrating Performative Modalities in Social Justice School Leadership Programs

Tchetgen, PV. (2019). DRUMBALL: Multimodal Meaning Production through Digital Drum Talk. ACM Creativity & Cognition 2019 Conference Proceedings. San Diego.

Tchetgen, PV. (2017). Design and Implementation of a Digital Orality Hypermedia System. ACM Creativity & Cognition 2017 Conference Proceedings. Singapore.


Music, Art + Design


  • PhD – University of California at Berkeley, Graduate School of Education (2020)
  • M.I.M.S. – University of California at Berkeley, School of Information (2009)
  • M.A. – University of Chicago, Humanities (2003)
  • B.A. – Ohio Wesleyan University (2000)


  • Humanities Center World-Making/World-Building Fellowship (2023-24)
  • Center for Design ‘Bridges’ Fellowship (2023-24)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow – Northeastern University, College of Arts Media & Design, Department of Music (2021-22)
  • Predoctoral Fellow – MIT, CHASS, Comparative Media Studies/Writing (2017-18)