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In our ongoing attempts to put our commitments to diversity and inclusion into practice, we have established ambitious goals for hiring faculty from traditionally underrepresented groups, initiated reforms designed to diversify our curriculum to attract and retain a more diverse student body, and supported faculty initiatives that focus on building and supporting our faculty of color. A critical aspect of our holistic approach to advance the University’s core value of inclusiveness involves a committed effort to rebuild and restructure our African American and African Studies (AAAS) graduate program.

African American and African Studies

We are now well positioned to rebuild a AAAS program with a broad humanistic approach to African American and African Studies that focuses on the global African Diaspora. This vision draws on the strengths of our current faculty whose work focuses on Africa, the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean through the lenses of Feminisms, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Critical Knowledge Production, History, Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.

As we work to reestablish AAAS to be competitive with the best graduate programs in the country, we invited Professors Carole Boyce Davies (Cornell University) and Clarence Lang (University of Kansas) to review the program. During their visit, they emphasized the degree to which a successful AAAS graduate program enhances three of the top-tier priorities outlined in the College of Arts & Letters strategic plan. Recruiting a new cohort of top AAAS graduate students will advance our attempts to develop and deliver graduate education through the Center for Interdisciplinarity. Our new School of Language Sciences, Literatures, and Cultures will be enriched by an influx of graduate students studying African languages and cultures; and our Critical Diversity in a Digital Age initiative will benefit from students doing digital humanities and social science scholarship in this area. 

AAAS has long been a signature interdisciplinary program in the College of Arts & Letters, and it is our top priority to provide the structural and institutional support to ensure its competitive success.