University of Rochester

New Major Approved in African and African-American Studies

November 14, 2002

A new undergraduate major in African and African-American Studies at the University of Rochester has been approved by the New York State Department of Education. The major will be administered by the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies and provides an interdisciplinary program that integrates the social sciences and the humanities.

The major will allow students to follow a rigorous and closely monitored course of study designed for broad exposure and in-depth mastery of the field. "In the last 20 years, African and African-American Studies has established itself as a crucial focus in many disciplines," said Larry E. Hudson, Jr., director of the institute and associate professor of history. "Through the Frederick Douglass Institute, the University wants to make Rochester a leader in this field."

For two years, an interdisciplinary advisory committee assessed faculty and student support for the major. Earlier this year, the major was approved by the Faculty Council, the deans of the College, and Provost Charles E. Phelps, chief academic officer of the University.

The bachelor of arts degree in African and African-American Studies is intended to bring together historical, cultural, psychological, economic, and political approaches and perspectives to the study of people of African descent in the Atlantic world, including the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

The major, which may be tailored to either the humanities or the social sciences, is expected to appeal to students with primary interests in African and African-American topics, said John Michael, curriculum director for the institute and professor of English.

"Students already majoring in history, English, political science, comparative literature, anthropology, or similar disciplines also may find a second major in African and African-American Studies an attractive option," he said. Coursework in African and African-American Studies, even for students majoring in engineering or the natural sciences, will be an enriching and humanizing opportunity, Michael pointed out.

More information about the major is available by contacting Michael at (585) 275-9207 or by visiting the institute's offices at 302 Morey Hall.