AAST faculty and Fulbright administrator Elecia Smith (red jacket) pose with Fall
Lecture Series speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones.
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.
We strive to advance social consciousness, promote equity, and support the highest
level of academic excellence through critical and global thinking in the classroom
and beyond. Through the study of the histories, cultures, and contemporary experiences
of the African diaspora, we examine the important role that race has played in the
creation of the world in which our students live.
MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR
Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,
With immense pleasure and enthusiasm, I write today as the newly appointed Director
of the African and African American Studies Program at the University of Arkansas.
I am deeply honored to join this esteemed institution and to have the opportunity
to lead the Program in its pursuit of academic excellence, cultural understanding,
and social progress.
As Director, I am committed to fostering an inclusive and dynamic environment where
Africans’ and African Americans’ rich history, culture, and contributions are celebrated
and rigorously examined and understood within their broader historical and contemporary
contexts. Our Program is vital in advancing interdisciplinary scholarship, promoting
social justice, and engaging with the broader community.
I am excited to work collaboratively with the faculty, staff, and students to build
upon the Program’s strengths, expand our academic offerings, and strengthen our connections
with local and national organizations. Together, we will strive to create an environment
that encourages critical thinking, empathy, and a deep appreciation for the diversity
of human experiences.
I am eager to meet each of you and embark on this journey of discovery and growth
together. Please know that my door is always open. I am eager to hear your ideas,
concerns, and aspirations for the future of African and African American Studies at
the University of Arkansas.
I am truly honored to be a part of this vibrant community, and I look forward to the
exciting and meaningful work ahead.
With warm regards,
Dr. Najja K. Baptist
Director, African and African American Studies Program (AAST)
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