Africana Studies Program: Goals and Objectives
Africana Studies examines the cultural, historical, political, economic, and psychological consequences of the dispersal of Africans from their ancestral continent to various regions of the world. Our work reflects the ongoing debate over whether Africana Studies is a multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary field, or whether it has evolved into a distinct discipline. Within this debate there is an emerging consensus that our methods of inquiry should be Afrocentric, transnational, and multidisciplinary. Afrocentricity means putting the people, ideas, cultures, and institutions of Africa and the African Diaspora at the center of our scholarship and pedagogy. Transnationality means studying the Afrodiasporic experience through the relationship of peoples, ideas, and events across geographical boundaries. Multidisciplinarity means understanding the Afrodiasporic experience through an integrative framework of different subjects and methodologies.The program contributes to non-majors' general education in a variety of ways. The program diversifies the curriculum by offering or cross-listing courses that focus on Africa and its Diaspora. Africana Studies also encourages departments across campus to consider the study of Africa and the African Diaspora as essential, rather than peripheral, to their disciplines. Further, courses in the program offers students opportunities to reflect on their multifaceted nature of their own culture (taking into consideration the Afrodiasporic contribution), as well as to consider the diverse experiences and cultures of African and African-descended peoples in Europe, Africa, and the Americas.
To meet these goals, the program gathers courses and faculty from departments across the four curricular divisions. Our courses are cross listed in the program and the participating departments. The majority of our courses focus on African-American issues, but we do offer courses on Africa (primarily in the social sciences) and the Afro Caribbean and other parts of the Diaspora (primarily in the arts and humanities). The multi- and interdisciplinary character of our offerings draws students' attention to the various kinds of knowledge, the relationships among them, and their relevance to one another. Majors are expected to understand the geographical expanse, historical depth, and intellectual breadth of the Afrodiasporic experience through two foundational courses at the 100 and 200 levels, including Africana Studies 229, "Black Intellectual History." At the 200 and 300 levels, majors must also take courses that focus on each of the three major regions studied in the program. Further, majors' courses should reflect two of the three curricular divisions—i.e. Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences—in which the program's teaching expertise is concentrated. Finally, majors must undertake a senior thesis, an independent, Africana-centered research or creative project. To prepare for this project, majors take Africana Studies 299, "Africana Studies Research Methodologies." Through the thesis, majors are expected to demonstrate the skills in research, multi-/ interdisciplinary inquiry, analysis, and writing that they have acquired in their undergraduate education, and specifically within the program.
The Africana Studies Program offers two correlate sequences. The first requires students to focus on one of the three major geographical regions. Like the major, this correlate is anchored in the foundational "Black Intellectual History" course.
The second correlate is the recently approved Arabic Language and Culture sequence. As most students who choose this correlate focus on the modern Middle East, the sequence emphasizes the acquisition and use of Arabic as it is spoken today. The correlate aims to help students achieve at least the ACTFL Advanced-level proficiency in reading Modern Standard Arabic and an above-average fluency in the language. By reaching this level, correlate students gain a solid foundation that will enable them to become life-long learners of Arabic language and culture. The correlate also seeks to enrich students' intercultural skills by exposing them to the Arabic literary tradition and offering them opportunities for real-life immersion through the program's JYA program in Morocco. In addition to serving correlate students, the recently expanded course offerings in Arabic have increased the program's ability to meet the needs of students from a variety of majors, including history, religion, and political science.