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About the department
Background and overview
The Department of African American Studies is administratively located within the College of Humanities and Sciences at the Monroe Park Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. The Department offers the Bachelors of Arts Degree in African American Studies. To fulfill the degree requirements, students take courses in African, African American, and Caribbean history, political science, geography, art, literature, and the social sciences. A minor in African American Studies is also offered, and requires the completion of 18 credits. The core faculty come from a variety of disciplines, including: psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, and political science.
Degree study in African American Studies is intended to provide students with a solid knowledge-base in the history, culture, experiences of African people around the globe and their contributions to world civilizations. As a major in the liberal arts, African American Studies is also geared toward strengthening critical thinking skills; problem solving; written, oral, and interpersonal communication; and quantitative and analytical reasoning skills. Graduates go on to careers in community service, cultural affairs, human resources, social services, and a host of other civic and business positions. Others continue their education in graduate school, law school, business school, or teacher training.
Philosophy and scholarly orientation
African American Studies, as a field of study, draws upon the theories, skills, pedagogy and perspectives of a wide range of disciplines in the humanities, social/behavioral sciences, life/physical sciences, and literature and arts. Scholars and students in African American Studies examine the complexity and diversity of people in the African Diaspora, with a focus on the interplay between historical, political, economic, cultural, and social dynamics that shape the reality of African people.
The Department plays an important campus-wide role in addressing issues of race, ethnicity, and culture when conflicts arise among students at VCU. Several of our faculty are nationally renowned scholars in the area of race and racism, gender, and religion, and are widely published on these topics. Another significant contribution of the Department is its commitment to community engagement. The Department has co-sponsored several educational and cultural events with various community organizations. The faculty are actively engaged in community outreach and collaborate regularly with individuals and organizations working to enhance the quality of life for Richmond’s residents.
The primary structure and organization of the Department consists of the chair, six tenured or tenure-track core faculty, about six affiliate faculty, and an administrative assistant. Five of the six tenured or tenure-track faculty are jointly appointed with other departments and share teaching responsibility across units. An advisory board provides guidance and leadership related to the Department’s growth and development. The Board is made up of members of the VCU community, scholars from other universities, and members of the Richmond community.
The Department’s primary location is 816 West Franklin Street.