Prairie View A&M University in Texas Creates a Major in African American Studies

Now of the first time in the nearly 150-year history of historically Black Prairie View A&M University in Texas, students will be able to pursue major and minor degree programs in African American studies.

Funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, an anonymous contribution, and a matching grant, the new degree program will prepare the emerging generation of leaders to communicate effectively, think critically, research, and examine any field of work through a comprehensive cultural lens.

The stated goals of the new program are:

  1. Ensure students receive an appropriate grounding in the field’s major themes and can place these themes in a historical context and use the knowledge to address the social science issues of race, racism, and inequality in African Americans’ lives.
  2. Develop students’ critical, analytical, research, writing, and oral skills.
  3. Emphasize the importance of diverse perspectives and intersecting identities in understanding the lives of African Americans.
  4. Promote civic and community engagement activities among students and faculty to enhance African American communities.

“A part of the HBCU experience for many students is a journey to self-identification, Blackness, and trying to understand the Black experience better,” said Jeanelle Hope, an associate professor and director of new degree programs. “It [African American Studies] provides students with the language to understand the world around them and an opportunity to engage key theories, concepts and methods that seek to make sense of the Black experience and amplify our narratives.”

Dr. Hope is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach. She holds a master’s degree in Pan-African studies from Syracuse University and a Ph.D. in cultural studies from the University of California, Davis.

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