For the first time in Michigan State University history, undergraduate students can major in African American and African Studies. The department of African American and African studies was founded in 2019. The university has been offering a minor in African American studies since 2014.
Undergraduates selecting the new bachelor’s program will study Black feminisms, Black genders studies, and Black sexualities studies as well as social justice, performance, film, institutions, religion and spirituality, and more. Interconnected courses encourage students to appreciate the complexities of Black communities as well as the particularities of Blackness as it is lived, imagined, and created. Three concentrations are offered: Communities in Action; Creative Expression, Culture, and Performance; and Black Institutions, Sustainability, and Statecraft.
“Students want opportunities to make a positive difference, hold a critical thought, and radically imagine something needed but does not yet exist,” said Ruth Nicole Brown, the inaugural chair of the department. “Students want to know how they can contribute to change. They yearn for Black joy and educational spaces to dream out loud informed by active witnessing and intellectual curiosities demanding context for historical continuums of injustices and answers as to why systemic inequities persist. They want to know more about Blackness as diasporic belonging, as healing, expansive, and life-affirming. This new degree in AAAS answers that call.”
Dr. Brown, who holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan, is the author of Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood (University of Illinois Press, 2013) and Black Girlhood Celebration: Toward A Hip Hop Feminist Pedagogy (Peter Lang International Publishers, 2008).