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The Eastern Echo

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Africology and African-American Studies Department at EMU offers programs that teach students about diverse people and cultures

The Africology and African-American Studies program at EMU offers students a way to increase their knowledge of the Black experience on a global scale.

Africology and African-American Studies (AAAS) at EMU offers students a variety of opportunities to increase their global awareness and understanding through multiple different programs.

These programs include a Bachelor’s Degree program, a 21-credit Minor, a 12-credit Certificate Program in African Studies, a Master’s Degree program, a 15-credit Graduate Certificate program, and a General Education Program. The department also encourages students to double major in AAAS and another discipline of their choice.

The General Education courses offered within the AAAS department at EMU are expansive, with courses that cover the areas of Global Awareness, U.S. Diversity, and Knowledge of the Disciplines.

Professor Victor O. Okafor is the Department Head of AAAS at EMU. He holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from Indiana University Bloomington, and a Ph.D. in African-American Studies from Temple University. He began his tenure as an Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University in 1994 and began teaching at EMU a year later.

“In terms of our Master’s Degree Program, it is unique in the sense that we allow students to complete as many as nine credits outside of AAAS. The MA requires a total of 33 credit hours, but we require students to complete nine of those 33 credits in a discipline other than AAAS. Part of the reasoning for that is to enable students to double up their areas of expertise and enhance their employability,” Okafor said.

Paul Thomas is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in AAAS at EMU. A Detroit native, he came to EMU knowing he wanted to major in AAAS.

“My first course [in the program] truly sparked my interest in who I am as a Black man, where I come from, and the rich history that comes with being African. Everybody [faculty members] wants you to succeed, they will push you to succeed. Everybody there is caring," Thomas said.

Each semester, the AAAS department at EMU offers a variety of courses related to aspects of Black life and culture in America, as well as in the Caribbean and Africa. The program is designed to give students a holistic view of the Black experience globally with a focus on the New World, specifically the United States.

“All we learned about in K-12 is from the white perspective, and there are so many more stories outside of that. I think AAAS courses are something everybody should take because that’s the beauty of history, there are so many different perspectives that you can learn," Thomas said.

“The student stands to benefit [from taking AAAS courses] in terms of the student’s intellectual grounding, but also in terms of the student’s knowledge of their society. No matter what career a student is pursuing, it is vital for that student to learn as much as possible about the world, their society, the institutions by which society is organized, and how those institutions function. You need to know about others who are in your cultural and geographic space so you can relate to them in a respectful way,” Okafor said.

To learn more about AAAS at EMU, visit their department's website.