A relevant education was defined as one that would provide students with an understanding of the long history of African people on this planet and their contributions to human civilization; one that would teach students an appreciation of the richness and vitality of African cultures, as they exist on the continent of Africa and throughout the African Diaspora; and, one that would critically analyze racism as a system that discriminates against, exploits, and oppresses African people based exclusively or primarily on the unscientific concept of race. Rather than educating students away from themselves, Pan African Studies has the goal of educating students about themselves as they are situated in their society and about the responsibility that they have for transforming society into a just, humane and equitable one.
Thus, the Pan-African Studies Department is engaged in:
- Teaching students about the African World Experience
- Organizing programs that demonstrate to the campus and the community the richness, vibrance, diversity, and vitality of African, African American, and Caribbean cultures,
- Presenting students and the community with an Afrocentric analysis of the economic, political, social, and cultural oppression (i.e. racism) under which people of African descent suffer, from Cape Town, South Africa to Juneau, Alaska, and
- Making efforts to transform society by applying these analytical skills and knowledge of some of the most critical social problems that exist today.
Similar to many Black Studies programs across the country, the Pan-African Studies Department is committed to a Pan-Africanist philosophy. That philosophy is based on the realization that all African peoples are linked by a cultural and spiritual unity and that the liberation of African people is dependent on the political and economic unification of the African global community. Pan-African Studies graduates have made significant contributions to society through their employment in educational and social service institutions. Many others are pursuing graduate work in the social sciences, the humanities, education, radio, TV broadcasting, business, or law. A more select, but quality group of graduates are gaining the requisite training to become Pan-African Studies scholars.
The Department offers a B.A. in African-American Studies. In addition, through the PAS Department, and in conjunction with several other disciplines and departments on campus, students can earn an Interdisciplinary Master's degree. Please see a PAS advisor for details.