Griot Society

Purpose and Ideas

The Griot Society Umoja Leadership Institute is designed to assist students, particularly African-Americans, in making the adjustment to the University of Central Arkansas and to grow intellectually and develop interpersonal and life skills.  The Institute will have three primary focus areas:  cultural identity formation, leadership development and academic excellence.

1.  Cultural identity will specifically focus on history and literature to help the student shape their identity and reality.  We will begin in Africa and move forward to modern African-American culture.  It is the aim of the this section to help students understand their historical and ancestral selves against the backdrop of Africa, its culture and its people, and to move this identity forward, so that  students, see themselves as both African and American.  Hopefully, the end result will be a discovery of what it is to be African-American.  The students will proceed through history and literature from Africa the beginning of civilization and the world’s religions, the Motherland; captivity and the Middle Passage; Africans in America building a new land; citizenship and civil rights; to African-American into the future.

2.  The leadership development component will encompass general leadership and life planning skills.  Our aim is to equip the participants with the necessary skills to become leaders in the UCA Community and beyond.

3.  There will be an academic focus in which students will be challenged to achieve and succeed.  Although the class will not employ the rigor of an academic setting, it will challenge students to think critically, dialogue and debate issues.

Meeting Times

The Institute will meet once per week from 6:00pm to 7:30pm for approximately six weeks.  At the end of these six weeks, participants will be inducted into the Griot Society.

Application Process

Students must be enrolled full-time (12 hours or more) in the University.  Please complete UMOJA Leadership Institute application form and submit electronically.  Institute is held annually in the Fall semester at UCA.  Our goal is to have 20-30 students enrolled in the institute.


The classes will be taught by Griots (student facilitators) who have completed the Institute and who have shown themselves to be capable of facilitating a particular topic.  Each week, the student facilitator will focus on either a cultural-identity issue, a leadership topic or offer an academic challenge.  The Institute includes weekly class sessions, outside assignments and a closing celebration.


We hope to inspire and set the tone for life long learning and development, social responsibility and leadership.  Participants will be expected to help in the development and implementation of various cultural celebrations including the Kwanzaa Celebration.