Current political and economic conditions, both national and international, make the introduction of the major in AAF particularly useful. This period of increased immigration and globalization of the labor market make it increasingly important for students to become familiar with peoples and cultures non-European. In addition to academic exposure for students, the Program offers possibilities for workshops and seminars for public school teachers and other professionals in the State whose job responsibilities have been expanded by changing demographics in the nation.
African and African American Studies is more than an effort to make our curriculum inclusive. The Program will introduce new methods of inquiry which are grounded in an interdisciplinary approach. The internships planned for students and the senior seminar required for majors are designed to maximize students' opportunity to apply research and training.
We are hopeful that this Program can help to build new bridges within the State between communities. Our objective is to both ensure that students stay in tune with their communities and to link faculty and their research to the larger community. In so doing we seek to aid the process of community development.
At campuses across the country, students have been demanding a new cultural pluralism - greater diversity in the courses offered and in the faculty hired to teach them. African and African American Studies at URI opens the university to minority students. Part of this department's academic mission is its potential to foster a positive self-image for the African American community and alter the often negative images of African and African American history and culture widely disseminated in American culture at large. This aspect of the program is crucial to providing the support necessary for many African American and other minority students to achieve success. The AAF Program, with its interdisciplinary goals, aims to encourage the aspirations of African American and other minority students, and the actualization of those aspirations - that is, to expand their sense of the contributions they already make to the university and to the larger American community and to help them to envision themselves making further contributions.
Courses developed in this department will provide additional opportunities to all students to enrich their university experience in multicultural and international education. The AAF Program also functions as a center for the investigation of intercultural processes and development. This is critical during a period of transforming global relations. America's demographic shifts have the potential to transform politics and culture as the number of non-Europeans grows in every major urban area.
The African and African American Studies Program is interdisciplinary, drawing on the arts, humanities and social sciences. It offers a wide range of courses which explore the history, culture, politics and economics of people of African origin, particularly those who live in the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America. The AAF Program presents new intellectual and cross-cultural enterprises, incorporating alternative historical reconstruction's and formulating methodological, theoretical and analytical forms into the social sciences as well as the humanities. We sponsor lectures and workshops in collaboration with other departments and with the Multicultural Center for students and the community covering a variety of topics from international, national, state and community politics to educational, social, cultural and economic issues.