1 African American Studies Program Self-Study Director: Administrator: John Thornton Professor of History Deirdre James October 9, 2015 This self-study represents an update of the Academic Planning Self-Study first completed in September 2007 and updated in September 2009, October 2010, 2011, 2012, October 2013, and I. The Curricular Context (A, 1) The African American Studies Program offers a Master s degree and an undergraduate minor. The one-year Master of Arts degree focuses on the African American Experience from a Global and Comparative Perspective. Courses offered in the Program concentrate on building the conceptual, theoretical, and research skills that can enable students to become life-long critical investigators of cross-cultural interactions. While examining the African American experience, the Program approaches it within a global context, paying particular attention to peoples of African descent in the Americas Africa, Europe, and Asia. To earn a degree in the Master s Program, students must complete eight courses total, including the core courses of GRS AA 871 African American History and CAS AA 580 History of Racial Thought, along with six electives in African American Studies. Candidates for the MA degree must also write two major research papers, one of which must be orally defended during the last semester in residence. In addition, any candidate who has not previously completed at least two years of study in one foreign language at the undergraduate level must demonstrate such proficiency by either adequate completion of university language courses or passing marks on a translation test administered by the university. This year (AY ), the African American Studies Program has two graduate students. (A, 2) The undergraduate minor requires that students complete six courses total, including the core courses of CAS AA 371 African American History and CAS AA 580 History of Racial Thought, along with four elective courses. The AFAM Program now has 10 declared minors up from last year s count of 8, as we have 6 new minors and 4 graduated last Spring. In academic year , the Program offered 8 courses in the fall, enrolling 110 students and 12 courses in the spring, with 154 students enrolling a total of 264 students. In the summer term, African American Studies offered two courses with a total enrollment of 27 students. (B, 1) Undergraduate majors from other BU departments and programs depend on courses offered in the African American Studies Program for diversity. Undergraduate majors in the Departments of History, English, Sociology, History of Art and Architecture, Political Science, Women s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program, International Relations, Religion, Romance Studies, and Economics, as well as in the
2 AA Self-Study: October 9, Programs in American and New England Studies and African Studies take courses that are cross-listed with those in African American Studies. (B, 2) Undergraduate majors and degrees outside of the College of Arts and Sciences also depend on our courses, particularly the College of Communication and School of Education and Drs. Thornton and Heywood have both been queried by SED about scheduling their classes so their students can take them. (B, 3) Finally, undergraduate minors in CAS and elsewhere whose requirements can be fulfilled by coursework in our Program include those in African Studies, American and New England Studies, History of Art and Architecture, Economics, English, Religion, History, Political Science, Sociology, and Women s, Gender & Sexuality Studies. (C, 1, 2) Similarly, graduate programs offered by fellow GRS departments depend on courses in African American Studies. They include both the master s and doctoral programs in American and New England Studies, History of Art and Architecture, Economics, English, Religion, History, Political Science, and Sociology. (C, 3) As it stands, there are no non-grs graduate programs whose requirements include coursework in our Program. The African American Studies Program has responsibilities for selected aspects of the CAS curriculum beyond the minor. The Program has contributed to (D, 3) the College Writing Requirement, via courses taught by Dr. Allison Blakely (now Emeritus). In addition, this academic year, the program offered (D, 5, 6) two Divisional Studies courses, CAS AA 103, an introduction to African American Literature offered in the Fall by Mary Anne Boelcskevy, the program s Director of Undergraduate Studies, and CAS AA 207, taught by Saida Grundy which will be taught every semester. In addition, Linda Heywood, in conjunction with Renata Keller, has developed a 1 credit study abroad course during Spring Break in Cuba which is crosslisted in History and International Relations. The course saw its inaugural voyage in Spring 2015 and was co-taught with Ana Maria Reyes and received excellent reviews. The plan is to continue to offer this course annually. Presently, the Program does not contribute content to (D, 1) the Core Curriculum, but AFAM faculty have taught in the Core Curriculum (D, 2) and the College Honors Program. (D, 7) The courses that remain popular include CAS AA207 Introduction to Race and Ethnic Relations; and CAS AA507 Lit:Harlem Renaissance. II. Assessment of Specific Course Needs The Program in African American Studies is obligated to provide undergraduate and graduate courses that continue to develop the conceptual, theoretical, and research skills that can enable students to become life-long critical investigators of cross-cultural interactions. The primary context in which such intellectual and academic development occurs is a curriculum that interprets the African American experience from a global perspective. In order to implement this mission for undergraduate education, we have long offered specialized courses that normally appeal to advanced undergraduates (such as juniors and seniors). (Note that these courses, since they are specialized and span course numbers , sometimes include both advanced undergraduates and graduate students enrolled in the master s program who need to fulfill course requirements.) With the addition of new faculty, the program hopes to continue its work to develop lower level courses that appeal to undergraduates at an earlier stage of their education (such as
3 AA Self-Study: October 9, freshman and sophomore levels), such as CAS AA 310 History of Civil Rights to be taught by Ashley Farmer. In addition, Saida Grundy will be creating a graduate level course on race, class, and gender. (A, 1) For the academic year 2016/2017, we will be offering the following course each semester: CAS AA 207 Introduction to Race, Ethnic and Minority Relations - Saida Grundy will be teaching this course and the plan is to raise enrollments which will necessitate adding a TF through Sociology. year: (A, 2) In addition, the Program will offer a number of cross-listed courses every CAS AA 371/ GRS AA 871 African American History (core course for minor and masters) CAS AA 580 History of Racial Thought (core course for minor and masters) CAS AA 103 Introduction to African American Literature (Divisional Studies credit) CAS AA 304 Introduction to African American Women Writers CAS AA 305 Toni Morrison s American Times CAS AA 306 E Experiencing Cuba CAS AA/HI 310 History of Civil Rights CAS AA 382/ GRS AA 882 History of Religion in Pre-colonial Africa CAS AA 385/GRS AA 885 Atlantic History CAS AA/HI 395 Africa & Caribbean CAS AA 408/ GRS AA808 Seminar: Minority Groups CAS AA 450 Topics Pop Culture Women on Trial CAS AA/HI 490 Blacks and Asians CAS AA 502 A1 20 th Century African American Novel CAS AA 502 B1 Studies in African American Literature CAS AA 504 African American and Asian American Women Writers CAS AA 507 Literature of the Harlem Renaissance CAS AA 514 Labor, Sexuality, and Resistance in the Afro-Atlantic World CAS AA 588 Women in Africa CAS AA 590 The World and the West GRS AA XXX TBD (A, 3) We currently offer the following courses every other year: CAS AA 489 African Diaspora CAS AA 510 African American Drama (A, 4) English has renumbered the following cross-listed courses to align with the AFAM 500-level advanced nature of the courses, and these courses have seen consistently high enrollments.
4 AA Self-Study: October 9, CAS AA 502 A1/EN 588 B1 20 th Century African American Novel CAS AA 504/EN 584 A1 African American and Asian American Women Writers (B, 1) Although we have no graduate courses that we offer every semester, we have some obligatory courses for graduate education offered every year: CAS AA 580: History of Racial Thought (Spring) GRS AA 871: African American History (Fall) (B, 2) The following graduate courses have been offered every year and have seen relatively strong enrollments: CAS AA 502 A1 20 th Century African American Novel CAS AA 504 A1 African American and Asian American Women Writers CAS AA 507 A1 Literature of the Harlem Renaissance CAS AA 514 A1 Labor, Sexuality, and Resistance in the Afro-Atlantic World CAS AA 588 A1 Women in Africa GRS SO 808 A1 Seminar: Minority Groups GRS AA 882 A1 History of Religion in Pre-Colonial Africa (B, 3) CAS AA 571 African American Art (B, 4) The following cross listed courses are not under the African American Studies Program s control: CAS AA 215 Arts of Africa and Its Diaspora CAS AA 316 African Diaspora Arts in the Americas CAS AA 363 A1 Race and the Development of the American Economy: A Global Perspective: Robert Margo CAS AA 501 A1 Literature of the Black Atlantic: Joseph Rezek CAS AA 502 B1 Studies in African American Literature: Gene Jarrett CAS AA 569 African American Economic History: Robert Margo CAS AA 571 African American Art III. In order to support our MA program several of our courses have a graduate section added, which draws additional students from various schools across the University but requires additional, separate contact hours with graduate students. CAS AA 371/GRS AA 871 African American History CAS AA 382/GRS AA 882 History of Religion in Pre-colonial Africa CAS AA 385/GRS AA 885 Atlantic History CAS AA 408/GRS AA 808 Seminar: Minority Groups IV. Planning for Staffing
5 AA Self-Study: October 9, Below is a three-year plan for staffing the courses identified in Part II. CAS AA 103 Introduction to African American Literature (every Fall) Mary Anne Boelcskevy will be teaching this class, which targets undergraduates and will potentially serve as a gateway to upper level AFAM courses. It has also now been given Divisional Studies credit which will add to its enrollment pool. Enrollments have increased in this course to 13 for Fall 2014 and Dr. Boelcskevy has succeeded in achieving the goal of making this a gateway course for freshman to AFAM studies as well as the AFAM Minor. CAS AA 207 Introduction to Race and Ethnic Relations (every semester): Saida Grundy will be teaching this course for AFAM Studies. CAS AA 215 Arts of Africa and Its Diaspora (every other year, Spring semester): Cynthia Becker CAS AA 304 Introduction to African American Women Writers (every year, Fall semester): Mary Anne Boelcskevy CAS AA 305 Toni Morrison s American Times (every year, Spring semester): Mary Anne Boelcskevy CAS AA 310 History of the Civil Rights Movement: (every year, Fall semester) Ashley Farmer CAS AA 316 African Diaspora Arts (every other year, Fall semester to alternate with AA 571 if instructor is available): Cynthia Becker CAS AA African American History (every year, Fall semester): Ashley Farmer who will be rotating this course with Linda Heywood. CAS AA382/882 Religions in Africa (every year, Spring semester): John Thornton CAS AA 385/885 Atlantic History (every year, Spring semester): John Thornton CAS AA 395 Leadership, Power, and Governance in Africa and the Caribbean (every year, Spring semester): Linda Heywood CAS AA 396 Commerce in Atlantic Africa (occasionally): John Thornton CAS AA 408/808 Seminar: Minority Groups (every year, Spring or Fall semester): Saida Grundy CAS AA 450 Topics Pop Culture (TBD): Ashley Farmer CAS AA 489 African Diaspora (every other year, Spring semester): Linda Heywood
6 AA Self-Study: October 9, CAS AA 490 Blacks and Asians (every other year, Spring semester): Ronald Richardson CAS AA th Century African American Novel (every year, Spring semester): Mary Anne Boelcskevy CAS AA 510 African American Drama (every other year, Spring semester): Ronald Richardson CAS AA 504 African American and Asian American Women Writers (every year, Spring semester): Mary Anne Boelcskevy CAS AA 514 Labor, Sexuality, and Resistance in the Afro-Atlantic World (every year, Fall semester): John Thornton CAS AA 537/538 Caribbean Fiction/Poetry (occasionally): Laurence Breiner CAS AA 571 African American Art (every other year, Spring to alternate w/aa316): A discussion has begun around the teaching of this course with newly hired HAA faculty member, Dr. Ross Barrett. CAS AA 580 History of Racial Thought (every year, Spring semester): Ronald Richardson CAS AA 588 Women in Africa (every year, Fall semester): Linda Heywood CAS AA 590 The World and the West (every other year, Fall semester): Ronald Richardson V. Executive Summary (1) At present it continues to be difficult to establish definitive plans as long as our faculty deficit, created by retirements and faculty resignations, is unaddressed. While we were fortunate in being able to replace two junior faculty members, the Wein Chair, for a senior faculty member, remains unfilled. Thus, the question of the succession of directorship remains tenuous, as do higher level plans. The disciplinary affiliation of the senior hire may impact significantly the way the program develops in future. Thus, plans presented below are intended to reflect current thinking among the faculty, with an understanding that a fuller mission statement must await our return to a full complement with the hiring of a senior faculty member to fill the Wein Chair. (2) The African American Studies Program is continuing to work to expand and diversify its undergraduate and graduate offerings through cross listing courses with other departments. Current cross list requests pending are; PO 313, 505, and
7 AA Self-Study: October 9, taught by Katie Einstein, HI 450 taught by Ashley Farmer,and SO 404/804 taught by Nazli Kibria. Enrollments have strengthened overall for AFAM courses although some courses have lower than desired enrollments, and the fact remains that the Program provides a special opportunity for students to examine race and culture in a unique context that is vital to the intellectual breadth of the University. Proposed solutions for increasing interest and enrollments include: The development of more courses that will attract undergraduate students. This effort to develop new courses will allow undergraduates to access the AFAM curriculum sooner in their careers and should result in increased AFAM minor s choices. AFAM has increased collaboration with other academic Programs and we believe this will extend our reach throughout the university as well as attract new students to the minor. With the successful recruitment of two junior faculty, Saida Grundy and Ashley Farmer we have been able to offer more undergraduate courses and maintain the current level of graduate course. With the addition of cross listed courses we will hopefully be able to expand this further. However, there is an ongoing problem where the efficacy of our program is being judged by enrollments, but the program does not have control over external faculty participation, teaching loads, or courses being offered, as these decisions (rightly) are made by the faculty member s home department. Consistency of offerings also becomes a challenge, as we are a one year MA program, and our students can be severely limited in what courses they are able to enroll in. This is a common problem faced by current MA students and could also be a barrier to MA recruitment as well. Fall 2016 AFAM course offerings currently number 12 and Spring 2017 course offerings currently number 12 at this time. See attached course planning sheet. Articulating the Program s broader academic value. After much discussion and reflection faculty have concluded that African American Studies should prove attractive to all majors because they are so crucial to understanding the American experience in a holistic framework. We aim to promote awareness of this opportunity of study through the addition of new courses and by consolidating work done across the university on issues of race and the African American experience under the umbrella of African American Studies. However, we are also considering offering a professional designation, which we might term a certificate that could be used to complement degree programs in social work, sociology, law and teaching, also in collaboration with programs and departments within the university who share a mission to explore issues of race and culture. In addition, we envision this collaboration to translate into a needed service that will serve as a springboard for explorations into topics of interest in today s multicultural global society.
8 AA Self-Study: October 9, The question of eventually establishing a major in African American studies becomes a more viable option with the recent and projected faculty recruitments, and we will continue to examine it closely. We also see the Program as fulfilling a number of practical needs. First, it can provide a master s level upgrade for teachers at the secondary level. We can also be an ideal program for Fulbright scholars, of which we have had several in recent years. The program has a record of providing supplementary training and background for people working in non-academic fields, one of our graduates returned to her job as a journalist in Atlanta following winning her master s degree; another has pursued a degree in Law, a third, working with developmentally challenged people has expanded his knowledge base to work with people of color. Strengthening of the Master s Program and designing continuity toward doctoral studies. The program faculty has debated for several years how to redesign our MA degree program. During this time we considered upgrading to a PhD program, possibly as a stand- alone program or more likely in conjunction with another department or program. Making a more concerted effort in mentoring students with varying levels of academic strength. We also see a need for the Program to assist students we feel have graduate potential but need additional training. (2, C) Dr. Boelcskevy continues working closely with our Program Administrator to increase enrollments in the minor and has been successful in recruiting freshman minors from her various undergraduate courses, as well as various CAS majors events throughout the academic year. The question of program growth then becomes a directional choice as previously mentioned once we have a full faculty complement that is able to offer consistent programming and curricular choices ongoing. We look forward to expanding our faculty base and welcoming more faculty to the University who have an academic focus on the African American experience.