The interdisciplinary African and African American Studies (AAAS) Program at UCA dedicates itself to teaching and researching about Africa and its various diasporas, especially in the Americas and Europe. The program brings together a wide spectrum of experts including literary critics, political scientists, philosophers, sociologists, historians, in addition to scholars of music, cultural studies, popular culture, gender, sexuality, race, and public policy to explore and reveal the multifarious experiences and perspectives of people of African descent as well as to theorize and historicize racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and other markers of difference. Further, we interrogate and rethink the disciplinary methods that conventionally have rendered these experiences and markings invisible. In service of this ambition we offer courses and conduct research that investigates the contributions, challenges, aspirations, and achievements of those of African ancestry. Our aim is to produce thoughtful, well rounded, and globally competent graduates who are ready to function in a densely interconnected world.

Degree requirements are available in the Undergraduate Bulletin (2017-2018). Printable checksheets for our major and minor are available here.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, @UCAAfAmStudies! You can also like and follow our Facebook page.

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Outstanding Faculty

The African and African American Studies Program faculty have expertise in various fields such as art, communications, history, literature, music, philosophy and religion, political science, sociology, world languages, and writing. The faculty have degrees from distinguished universities around the United States and the world. Several have received prizes for research and teaching, and many are well-published in their respective fields. Teaching comes first at UCA, and our small class sizes ensure a warm, supportive atmosphere conducive to learning.

Student Life

There are many opportunities for students to get involved in the UCA and Conway communities. Students attend lecture series and movie nights, participate in service projects and field trips, run a booth at the Majors Fair, and conduct research into various aspects of African and African American culture.

Students may join various organizations that advance the understanding of the culture and experiences of people of African descent. The program has its own student organization, the AFAM Studies Society (on Instagram, @afamsociety). Other connected organizations include the Griot Society, Students For the Propagation of Black Culture (SPBC), the African Studies Association, World Languages Club, the campus chapter of the NAACP, National Association of Black Men United, and the Minority Mentorship Program.

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Educating for Diversity and Global Engagement (EDGE)

With the College of Liberal Arts’ emphasis on EDGE, students have access to a truly global curriculum and have the opportunity to study abroad, conduct undergraduate research, and gain practical job experience through internships and service learning. In the past students have presented their research at national conferences and have interned at sites such as the Clinton Presidential Library or Arkansas Historical Preservation Project. Students have the opportunity to live in EDGE Residential College, which makes global education a living/learning experience. For more information, please visit their website.

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Why Major or Minor in African and African-American Studies?

A major or minor in African and African-American Studies equips you with so many intellectual and practical skills:

  • Communication – expressing ideas, listening skills, persuasion, public speaking, technical writing, and other forms of written communication
  • Empathy – understanding of other cultures, ability to work with diverse populations, willingness to “think outside the box”
  • Research – gathering and organizing information, identifying problems, making data and sources accessible to the wider public
  • Thinking Independently – creating innovative solutions, multi-tasking, strategic planning/visioning, analytical/critical thinking, problem solving, and many more!

The minor in African and African-American Studies pairs well with majors that prepare students for careers in international business, public policy, social work, nonprofit activism, and more.

Gain Skills to Prepare You for Careers in:

  • Management and Industry Cultural Resources Manager, Civil Services Worker, Social Worker, Human Resources
  • Communication and Media – Journalist, Media Relations Specialist, Linguist, Interpreter
  • Education – High School Teacher, Administrator, Professor, Student Affairs, University Administration
  • Non-Profit/Advocacy – Peace Corps Staffer, Program Administrator, Activist/Community Organizer
  • Government/Politics – Foreign Service Specialist, Political Analyst, Public Administration, State and Local Government, Civil Service Work, Community Urban Planning, Public Affairs and Policy
  • Professional and Graduate School – Law, medicine, pharmacy, history, sociology, psychology, philosophy, English…to name just a few!

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Notable African and African American Studies Majors

  • Michelle Obama – attorney and First Lady of the United States. (BA in Sociology with a minor in African-American Studies from Princeton University)
  • Angela Bassett – award-winning actress. (BA in African-American Studies from Yale University)
  • Rakim H. D. Brooks – Rhodes Scholar and C. Edwin Baker Fellow in Democratic Values at Demos. (BA in Africana Studies from Brown University)
  • Jendayi Frazer – Distinguished Professor, Carnegie Mellon University and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. (BA in African and Afro-American Studies & Political Science from Stanford University)
  • Megan L. Comfort – Senior Research Sociologist, Urban Health Program at RTI International and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine, UCSF. (BA in Black Studies from Wellesley College)
  • Brian L. Harper – Medical Director and COO of the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention. (BA in Afro-American Studies & Biology from Brown University)
  • Mae Jemison – Physician and NASA astronaut on the Endeavor in 1992. (BA in Afro-American Studies from Stanford University)
  • Do Kim – Civil rights attorney & founder of the Korean American Youth Leadership Program. (BA in Afro-American Studies & Sociology from Harvard University)
  • Aaron McGruder – Cartoonist, writer, and creator of the nationally syndicated comic strip “The Boondocks.” (BA in African-American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park)
  • Gloria Naylor – Educator and novelist. Winner of the National Book Award in 1983 for The Women of Brewster Place. (MA in Afro-American Studies from Yale University)
  • Richard W. Roberts – U.S. District Court Judge for Washington DC. (BA in Black Studies & Political Science from Vassar College)
  • Claudia Thomas – Author and first black female orthopedic surgeon in the U.S. (BA in Black Studies from Vassar College)

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For more information, please contact the program directors:

Dr. Michael Mwenda Kithinji
Irby Hall 421
201 Donaghey Avenue
Conway, AR 72035
Phone: (501) 450-5650
Fax: (501) 450-5617

Dr. Kristen Epps
Irby Hall 403
201 Donaghey Avenue
Conway, AR 72035
Phone: (501) 450-5616
Fax: (501) 450-5617

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