African American and African Studies

African American and African Studies at Western Michigan University has had various names throughout its existence at this institution. However, the commitment and contributions to WMU students of this field of study to a broad and deep examination of the history and experiences of peoples of African ancestry have persisted.

African American and African Studies shares a destiny and focus with other fields that examine the historical and contemporary processes that shape the lives and experiences of various peoples of the world, especially oppressed populations.

Applying knowledge, theories and methodologies from the humanities, fine arts and social sciences, students in AAAS will study economic, social, cultural, aesthetic, and political factors and dynamics that undergird the structure, organization, and impact of issues, movements, ideas, and institutions that have influenced the historical and contemporary trajectories of people of African ancestry.

Students in the major will:

  • Develop competence in critical thinking and analysis.
  • Increase oral and written communication skills.
  • Broaden their education in the humanities, arts and social sciences.
  • Be prepared for careers and graduate education in law, the social sciences, health and human services, public policy and public affairs, education, global and international studies, and community and urban development and planning.
  • Deepen their understanding of human diversity and inclusion and learn to make independent contributions to the cultural, social, economic and political growth of the world community.

Finally, the program will foster a collective space for students, faculty, staff, and community members to gather to:

  • Support and engage a critical understanding of the lives and cultures of people of African ancestry.
  • Sponsor, support and participate in events and activities on and off campus that address issues and concerns related to peoples of African descent, especially pertaining to the intersection of race, ethnicity, racism, immigration, inequality, gender, social class, sexual orientation, environmental justice and sustainability, education, religion, civic engagement and the like.