African and African American Studies (AAAS) offers opportunities for critical examination and sophisticated understanding of the cultural, social, political, economic, and historical factors that have created and shaped Africa and its diaspora, including black experiences in the United States, the Caribbean, and throughout the globe. The minor is meant to be complementary with any major field of study. Awareness of the history, diversity, and cultures of people of African descent, along with the habits of mind nurtured by the broader liberal arts curriculum, is a valuable asset to a variety of careers, including in the education, business, law, social services, academic, and non-profit sectors.
The minor also contributes to the enrichment of the whole person and prepares students to be responsible, aware citizens of local and world communities. The black experience is at the heart of many key social justice issues, from slavery and abolition to the anti-colonial, anti-segregation, anti-apartheid, and civil rights movements of the twentieth century. Rigorous academic study of these experiences tells us not only about ourselves and our past, but also how to participate in a diverse and rapidly globalizing world.
A Note from Brian Norman, Founding Director of AAAS
I want to share the good news that Dr. Adanna Johnson has agreed to serve as Director of African and African American Studies starting in the fall. Dr. Johnson has been a member of the AAAS steering committee from near the beginning and, as many of you know, she has been a key advocate for AAAS issues and a beloved presence around campus. I am excited by the energy, ideas, and directions she’ll bring to the program.
In her work in the Psychology Department, Dr. Johnson is involved in multicultural research and recruitment and retention activities for students of color in higher education. Her clinical work is focused on helping children and adolescents and their families better understand themselves and each other. She is currently researching traditional African healing modalities in a modern therapeutic context.
The AAAS program turns five next year. Now may be a good time to pause and reflect on the program so far, which has benefitted from contributions and commitments all across campus. I have compiled a retrospective of the program’s launch and its four areas of initial focus. As for me, I am taking a sabbatical leave to work on a new book on collaboration in American literature and culture, as well as coedit a new book series on key African American cultural figures.
I am honored to have stewarded the AAAS program in its early years and excited for its future. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Johnson.
Yours in service,