African American Studies (AASP)College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
1119 Taliaferro Hall, 301-405-1158
Chair: O. Johnson, Acting Chair
Associate Professors: S. Harley, O. Johnson, S. Madhavan, J. Richardson
Assistant Professors: G. Dinwiddie
Lecturers: L. Batties, J. Clark, J. England, I. Kargbo, J. Nichols, J. Semper, D. Terry, B. Ward
The African American Studies Department offers a Bachelor of Arts degree with two highly-regarded options: a Cultural and Social Analysis Concentration with emphasis on culture and history; or the Public Policy Concentration with an emphasis on problem-solving, analytical decision-making, and practical applications of policy analysis and management skills. In addition, students who elect majors in other departments can earn a Certificate in African American Studies. In September 2004, we introduced a minor in Black Women's Studies which is a collaborative program with the University's Department of Women's Studies.
Courses offered in this department may be found under the acronym AASP.
The African American Studies Department (AASD) fosters an intellectual environment in which majors learn to critically examine, analyze, interpret and discuss the experiences, culture, traditions, and dynamics of people of the African Diaspora. A primary goal of the program is to develop strong critical thinking, analytical skills, research and writing skills, through our curriculum, such that AASD majors learn the interdisciplinary methods used in examining the socio-economic, historical, and political experiences and contributions of people of African descent. Our curriculum is organized and structured to introduce AASD majors to African American Studies and to ensure that they receive appropriate grounding in the major themes of the field and can place these themes in the historical context of the African Diaspora such that they are better prepared to address the social scientific issues of race, racism, and inequality. The program provides preparation in fundamental research methodology so that AASD majors are able to explore research questions with sufficient rigor.
Relevance of goals to the mission statements and/or strategic plans of the university, college, or program as applicable:
The University of Maryland's stated goals for undergraduates include the ability to learn and develop critical reasoning and research skills; written and oral communications skills; science and quantitative reasoning, and technological fluency. AASD majors are well prepared upon graduation in these areas through the department's curriculum and extensive one-on-one mentoring by the AASD faculty.
Program Learning Outcomes
A primary goal of the African American Studies Department is to develop strong critical thinking, research and writing skills, through our curriculum, such that AASD majors learn the interdisciplinary methods used in examining the socio-economic, historical, and political experiences and contributions of people of African descent. Students should acquire the following knowledge and skills:
Goal 1: Competency in critical analysis:
AASD students will be able to demonstrate critical reading and analytical skills, including understanding an argument's major assertions and assumptions and how to evaluate its supporting evidence.
Students will be able to articulate how historical change shapes ideas and social and political structures.
Students will be able to analyze forms and traditions of thought or expression in relation to cultural, historical, political, and social context, as, for example, dance, literature, music, and philosophical and religious traditions.
Goal 2: Competency in written communications:
AASD majors will be able to demonstrate research skills, integrate their own ideas with those of others and apply the conventions of attribution and citation correctly.
Students will be able to demonstrate the ability to fomulate a thesis related to a specific topic and to support the thesis with evidence and argumentation.
Goal 3: Technological competency and critical analysis:
AASD majors will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the differences among appropriate and inappropriate methods for drawing conclusions through the use of formal analytical, or computational techniques to address real-world problems.
Goal 4: Critical/Analytical Reasoning:
AASD majors will be able to distinguish between premises and conclusions, or between data and inferences from data.
Goal 5: Competency in oral communications:
AASD majors will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the connection between writing and thinking and will be able to utilize writing and reading for inquiry, learning, thinking and communicating in an academic setting. They will use effective presentation techniques drawn from interdisciplinary research methods.
Admission to the Major
Students wishing to major in African American Studies must make an advising appointment for an orientation to the major. Students must complete an application and attend a BSOS academic plan workshop.
Please call the AASD office at 301-405-1158 to make an advising appointment.
Requirements for the Major
Students must earn a grade of "C-" or better in each course that is to be counted toward completion of degree requirements. Students must have a minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average across all courses used to satisfy major degree requirements. All related or supporting courses in other departments must be approved by an AASP faculty advisor.
*Upper-division AASP electives in the policy area (AASP numbers 499A-Z) or, with approval, elective courses outside of AASP
Requirements for the Minor
Black Women's Studies
Joint Minor in Black Women's Studies
WMST263/AASP203 Introduction to Black Women's Studies
Area III - Social Sciences (3 credits)
WMST265/AASP213 Constructions of Manhood and Womanhood in the Black Community
No course grade below the grade of "C-" may count toward the minor. An overall GPA of 2.0 in the minor is required for graduation.
To make an appointment to explore or declare a minor, go to www.arhu.umd.edu/undergraduate/academics/minors
The Certificate in African American Studies offers undergraduate students an excellent opportunity to develop a specialization in African American issues while pursuing a major in another field. Certificate students learn about the social, economic, political and cultural history of the African American people through a concentration of courses they plan with the AASD Academic Advisor. Courses taken toward the certificate also may be used to satisfy General Education requirements and electives.
Earning a Certificate in African American Studies gives students a competitive advantage in the job market by adding greater focus to their undergraduate experience.
Please see catalog section on "Certificate Programs" for more information and requirements for a Certificate in African American Studies.
The African American Studies Department has mandatory advising for all AASD majors.
Undergraduates in good academic standing may enroll in the African American Studies Department or obtain more information about available options and services by contacting the Undergraduate Academic Advisor, African American Studies Department, 1119 Taliaferro Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, 301-405-1158.
Undergraduate Research Experiences
African American Studies majors and certificate students are welcome and encouraged to apply for undergraduate research assistantships as part of AASP386, Experiential Learning. The student must be in good standing and have at least 56 cumulative credit hours to apply.
Additionally, AASD majors with an overall GPA of 3.0 or above may enroll, with department permission, in the AASP397, Senior Thesis, working with one or more core AASD faculty members. The student must have successfully completed AASP297, Research Methods in African American Studies.
For more information and details, please call the AASD Academic Advisor at 301-405-1158.
Experiential Learning, AASP386, in African American Studies is an academic seminar for majors and certificate students who are working at internship or service sites and organizations whose mission and goals related to the African American experience. Through course work and class discussions, students are challenged to integrate their experiential experiences with the interdisciplinary study of past and present African American communities. To successfully earn credit for experiential learning students must fulfill the requirements at the internship or service site, participate in a weekly seminar, and complete the assigned projects aimed at bringing together academic research, reflective work, and professional development.
The internship or service portion of the course requires students to work closely with their site supervisors. Students are required to fulfill the job responsibilities and work the number of hours per week that is outlined in their learning proposals. Site supervisors define specific job responsibilities and assignments, monitor their training, and evaluate their performance at the end of the semester by completing an evaluation form and submitting a letter of recommendation to be included in their portfolios.
Students are also required to participate in a weekly seminar and complete assignments that examine the relationship between classroom, work, and service experiences. The seminar will give students the opportunity to discuss their internships and how their experiences are enhanced by their understanding of African American studies. During the seminar, students will share information about assignments and give each other feedback. Students will evaluate their internship sites and the roles the sites play in black communities and in promoting social change.
AASP386 - Experiential Learning in African American Studies was developed to enable majors and certificate students to formally link their academic studies to experiences as undergraduate teaching assistants, undergraduate research assistants, and through external internships, while doing so in a structured learning context.
Undergraduate teaching assistants and undergraduate research assistants work directly with an AASD faculty member who provides supervision and mentoring to the student in all aspects of their undergraduate assistantship.
Student participating in external internships work closely with their site supervisors. Students are required to fulfill the job responsibilities and work the number of hours per week that is outlined in their learning proposals. Site supervisors define specific job responsibilities and assignments, monitor their training, and evaluate their performance at the end of the semester by completing an evaluation form and submitting a letter of recommendation to be included in their portfolios.
All students must participate in a weekly seminar, and complete assigned projects aimed at bringing together academic research, reflective work, and professional development.
AASD offers honors sections for many of our General Education and upper-level elective courses.
AASP397, Senior Thesis, is a capstone course that offers AASD majors who have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and who complete AASP297, Research Methods in African America Studies, with a "B+" or better, the opportunity to work with a tenured or tenured-track AASD faculty member in a independent study to complete a senior thesis project.
Senior thesis students have the opportunity to research, write, and orally defend their thesis project before a panel of AASD faculty.
Please make an appointment to see the AASD Academic Advisor about the honors sequence by calling 301-405-1158.
Student Societies and Professional Organizations
AASD majors have the opportunity of being well prepared for leadership positions in campus organizations. AASD majors have historically held notable positions at the University of Maryland in such organizations as the NAACP, Alpha Nu Omega Sorority, Incorporated and The Black Student Union.
The Society of African American Studies is the student-run organization associated with and supported by the department. The Society provides community service in local schools, hosts on-campus programs and events, and annually has supported a local family through its "Adopt-a-Family" program.
The Society annually sponsors a "Saturday Freedom School" program which brings middle school children from a local Prince George's County Public School to campus for seven consecutive Saturdays. The program provides mentoring and academic support that seeks to foster the development of positive Black identities in the student participants, while strengthening their academic performance.
Students are recruited from across the UMD campus to serve as mentors to Saturday Freedom School participants.
Please call 301-405-1158 to inquire about the Society of African American Studies.
Scholarships and Financial Assistance
The Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) administers all types of federal, state and institutional financial assistance programs and, in cooperation with other university offices, participates in the awarding of scholarships to deserving students. For information, please visit www.financialaid.umd.edu .
Awards and Recognition
Graduating seniors with an overall GPA of a 3.2 who have earned a 3.5 GPA within the major are recognized with departmental honors.
Graduating seniors with an overall GPA of a 3.5 who have earned a 3.7 GPA within the major are recognized with departmental high honors.