Student interest fuels new Africana Studies program
Students for the first time are taking courses in the new Africana Studies program at the University of Richmond.
“The push for this program was strong, and students can now major, minor, and receive degrees in Africana Studies,” said Ernest McGowen, the program’s coordinator. “It is a great opportunity to direct one’s studies toward their interests and fulfill our liberal arts mission.”
McGowen and other faculty members collaborated with students to create the program, following a student-driven proposal for UR to offer Africana Studies as an academic option.
The Africana Studies program launched with interdisciplinary courses and programming in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. The program explores the complex socio-political landscapes, economic structures, and cultural traditions that shape, impact, and stem from the African diaspora.
Classes this semester include Introduction to Africana Studies and a Rumors of War seminar, which will examine the history of slavery and colonization before and after 1492 and how they shape the African diaspora. The program is housed in the School of Arts & Sciences, but students may take elective courses across disciplines and schools.
Simone Reid, student representative on the Africana Studies Committee, was a critical part of making the program a reality.
“Africana Studies is an opportunity to intellectually enrich our whole campus and offer opportunities to learn that we didn’t have before,” she said. “I think it’s so important for future students to have access to this kind of knowledge and to begin the process of affecting our campus culture.”
Every course the program is offering is full for its first semester — evidence of the strong interest in this area of study.
“The resources that have been put into this program show a definite commitment to our diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts,” McGowen said. “It shows a commitment that we listened to our students and committed to evolving our curriculum.”