Mission Statement

The African and African American Studies Program (AAST) at the University of Arkansas is an interdisciplinary program that expands on the core disciplines of a traditional liberal arts education.  We explore the legacy of the African diaspora and African-descended people’s global experiences with a focus on Africa, the United States, and the Caribbean.  We strive to advance social consciousness, inject principles of reason and equality into international debates, and support the highest level of academic excellence in the classroom and beyond.  Through the study of the history and culture of the African diaspora, we examine the important role that race has played in the creation of the world in which our students live.

Letter from the Director

It is an honor and privilege to serve as the new director of the African and African American Studies Program. I want to first and foremost thank the African and African American studies faculty for your vote of confidence in my commitment to work diligently, collaboratively, and in partnership with the diverse college, university, and community constituents with which the African and African American Studies Program interfaces in supporting the academic excellence and achievements of our students and faculty. Secondly, I want to extend my thanks to the former director, affiliate faculty, staff and graduate assistants, donors, and students for your past and continued service and commitment to the program’s mission with special gratitude and thanks to Interim Directors Drs. Pearl Dowe and Yvette Murphy-Erby for their leadership, service, and support of the program over the past two years.

During the 2015 – 2016 school year, the African and African American Studies Program achieved several major accomplishments. We welcomed another joint appointed faculty, Dr. Constance Bailey, as an assistant professor of African and African American studies and English. The program expanded its course offerings to include anthropology and art. Additionally, seven students participated in the study abroad trip to Ghana under the leadership and guidance of Drs. Caree Banton and Barbara Lofton.

In 2016 – 2017 we experienced another banner year for African and African American studies. Dr. Aldon Morris’ lecture captivated the audience with a thought-provoking presentation from his book on the legacy of Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois’ work in shaping the discipline of sociology. In partnership with the Sam M. Walton College of Business and the Department of Art, the program co-hosted a reception and lecture by Dr. Bernard Kinsey, McIlRoy Family Visiting Professor, his wife Shirley, and their son Khalil. The Kinsey family shared an inspiring and heart warming presentation of the untold contributions and achievements of descendants of the African diaspora through the Kinsey Collection of art, historical artifacts, and other authentic treasures. Additionally, the program organized an alternative spring break trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. that was attended by students and faculty from across campus.

This fall join us in welcoming joint appointed visiting assistant professor of Art Education and African American Studies, Dr. Alphonso Walter Grant. He is teaching “Living While Black: Themes in African American Thought and Experience,” a course cross-listed in the Art department and African and African American Studies Program.

 The African and African American Studies Program continues to solidify its value as an integral asset to the University of Arkansas. We invite you to join us in shaping the direction of the 2017-2018 year in the ways that work for you. In other words, “get in where you fit in” – stop by the office, pick up the phone, send us a tweet, an email, or check us out on Facebook and our website. We welcome your voice and ideas! 

Sincerely,

Valandra

Assistant Professor of Social Work
Director, African and African American Studies