About AAST

Faculty with Nikole Hannah Jones
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.


Dr. Valandra headshotDR. VALANDRA

It is an honor and privilege to serve as the 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 the past Interim Directors Drs. Pearl Dowe and Yvette Murphy-Erby for their leadership, service, and support of the program over the years.

As we celebrate our 50th anniversary this year, the African and African American Studies program will continue to solidify its value as an integral asset to the University of Arkansas. You're invited to join in the celebration -- we have a number of special events in store over the course of the year. You can also learn a little about our history as a program at the University of Arkansas. And as always, we encourage you to “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 social media. We welcome your voice and ideas!

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