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

Thank you for visiting the University of Arkansas’ African and African American studies (AAST) web page.  We are an interdisciplinary program located in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.  Our program, established in the 1960s, explores the legacy of the African diaspora and African-descended people’s global experiences with a focus on Africa, the United States, and the Caribbean. Our growing, committed, and scholarly faculty and staff team consist of four faculty members with joint appointments in AAST and english, history, social work, and sociology, alongside numerous affiliate faculty members  from across campus, as well as two graduate assistants and one office coordinator. 

We offer several degree tracks and learning options for students.  Undergraduate students may pursue African and African American studies as: (a) a second major alongside a primary major in Fulbright College; (b) as a minor in addition to any major at the university; and (c) as one of several tracks included in an interdisciplinary major. The program also offers a graduate certificate. Additionally, the African American Experience (AAST 2023) is now part of the University Core. Students at the University of Arkansas are able to select this class as an integral facet of their education and broaden their knowledge of African American history and culture.  Finally, the addition of an online minor in African and African American studies offers greater access for diverse educational opportunities to students beyond the University of Arkansas' borders.  In partnership with the University of Arkansas Global Campus, the African and African American Studies Program now provides a fifteen-hour, interdisciplinary minor that may be completed entirely in the virtual classroom. African and African American studies offers a variety of courses that includes topics ranging from history and politics, to sociology, social work, literature, theatre, and language.  We are proud to offer an ever-growing array of educational opportunities and experiences to students across our campus including study abroad and service learning experiences and a registered student organization named, Sankofa.

We are located in Memorial Hall, one of the University's most storied buildings. Completed in 1940, Memorial Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places. The space that once served campus as a segregated Student Union and ballroom now affords African and African American studies faculty and students accessible offices, conference space, and a student study lounge. We invite students, faculty, staff and visitors to use our space for scholarly events, such as dialogues, meetings and presentations and we welcome students to use our lounge and study areas. 

We continue efforts that highlight the value of the African and African American Studies Program as an asset to the University of Arkansas.  We remain committed to interdisciplinary efforts, community engagement, student centeredness, and our ongoing mission to advance social consciousness through diverse educational opportunities that yield the highest levels of academic excellence in a variety of classic and innovative formats. We invite you to join in our efforts towards another amazing year!

Sincerely,

Yvette Murphy-Erby
PhD, MSW
Professor of Social Work
Director, School of Social Work
Interim Director African and African American Studies