SU to launch master’s degree in Pan African Studies
SU to launch master’s degree in Pan African StudiesOctober 07, 2004Cynthia J. Moritzcjmoritz@syr.edu
The Department of African American Studies is expanding its horizons, both geographically and academically. Beginning next fall, it is adding a master’s degree in Pan African Studies to its offerings.
The new degree will build upon the existing departmental focus on the study of African American, African and African Caribbean peoples, but is designed to offer students a much more comprehensive understanding of the global African experience. It will take students on an intellectual journey beyond the current triple heritage to other international sites where Black people are located, including Brazil, Britain, Canada, Cuba, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and South America. The courses and field experiences offered are multidisciplinary, involving the arts, humanities and social sciences.
“What we are offering is unique,” says Micere Githae Mugo, professor and director of graduate studies in the department and a moving force behind the new program. “In terms of innovation, it is substantially different from any other program offered in either New York State or the nation at large.”
The new program further strengthens SU’s African American Studies offerings at a time when the department is marking its 25th anniversary. The milestone will be celebrated with a two-day event on Oct. 8-9.
One unique component of the new program is its external experience requirement. Students will be required to travel to one of the sites where the department either runs a DIPA program or has established an institutional affiliation. DIPA programs will include a new incarnation of “Faces of Independence in Southern Africa,” “Paris Noir” in France and “Beyond the Beach” in the Caribbean. Additional sites to be targeted include the African Burial Ground, the Gullah Islands, the Underground Railroad, Maroon settlements in Jamaica, Quilombo sites in Brazil, Goree Island in Senegal, Cape Coast and Elmina “Castles” in Ghana, Robben Island in South Africa and others.
At the sites, students will be required to complete an authorized project, such as conducting research, participating in a practical educational project, working on an independent study or doing a short internship. “We want them to be educationally, intellectually and practically engaged,” says Mugo.
Another unique feature of the program is the collaborative arrangements that the department has worked out with institutions outside the United States, such as the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, York University in Canada, the University of Cape Town in South Africa, the Council for Social Sciences Research in Dakar, Senegal, and the Trust-Southern Africa Political and Economic Series.
The program will incorporate scholarship in such areas as gender, class, race, sexuality and cultural studies. “We’re really trying to streamline current intellectual trends into our study of the arts, humanities and social sciences for enrichment,” says Mugo.
Mugo says many undergraduate African American Studies majors and other students have already expressed the wish to do graduate work in Black Studies. While the African American Studies department has been offering graduate courses for more than a decade, this will be the first graduate degree offered. Mugo says the department hopes to recruit an initial class of 10-12 students.
“The graduate program will add greatly to the academic climate of the department and to that of Syracuse University at large,” Mugo says. “The program is long overdue.”