Welcome to Africana Studies
Recognizing the strategic importance of AS within the broader southern New Jersey region, Clark and Rose envision broadening the program's reach by linking it more directly to the College of Education's mission to advance diversity and social justice through advocacy. Through a partnership with the AS program and the College of Education, Clark and Rose believe that Rowan has the opportunity to serve as the flagship institution and premiere pre-service teaching program that highlights and promotes the curriculum provided by the New Jersey Amistad Commission. The 2002 New Jersey Amistad Bill mandates the infusion of African American History into all high school social studies curriculum. In utilizing the expertise of the faculty/staff who instruct AS courses, teacher candidates at Rowan will be increasingly more culturally competent educators regarding the African Diaspora and potentially increase compliance of the Amistad Bill. Rowan is one of the few higher education institutions in the state that specifically offers Africana/African American Studies as a major and concentration, thereby providing an exploration and critical examination of the political, cultural, and economic contributions of people of African descent.
The overarching aim of the Africana Studies program (AS) is to engage Rowan University undergraduate students in an international, multidisciplinary, and critical examination of the historical and contemporary challenges, experiences, and contributions of people of African descent throughout the African Diaspora. The program is framed by the African American intellectual-activist tradition, which emphasizes two major goals: (1) excellence in discovering, mastering, and creating knowledge and (2) integrity in using those understandings and skills in service to institutions and communities beyond the academy. Toward these ends, the program is characterized by a commitment to critical social analysis, teaching, and learning processes that connect multiple perspectives and promote social transformation through scholarship, advocacy, and civic engagement. In addition, the program contributes to the broad societal mission of the university and also serves as a major intellectual resource and service center for African American institutions and communities in the region.
The Africana Studies program dates back to the fall of 1968 when the Civil Rights Movement across the nation and the Southern New Jersey region led to the establishment of the King Scholar Program (The Educational Opportunity Fund or EOF Program). Students admitted to Glassboro State College under EOF called upon the institution to provide African American curricula, faculty, staff, and more diverse library holdings. Following the offering of the first Black History course by the Department of History in 1969, a slow but steady growth in African American and African curricular offerings over the course of the next two decades culminated in the formal establishment of the African American Studies concentration in 1989.The first Coordinators of the African American Studies concentration, Drs. Gary Hunter, Professor of History (1989-1992) and Herbert Douglass, Professor of Law & Justice (1992-1996), helped to transform the curriculum and culture of the institution toward representation of human diversity in the US and the global community. In 1996, Dr. Corann Okorodudu, Professor of Psychology (1996-2000) and (2004-2010), was elected Coordinator of the program, and her spirited leadership had a profound impact on its development and growth. Okorodudu envisioned a Department of AS, and in 2006 she instituted a five-year plan to position the program for this transition. The most significant step in this process, proposing an AS major, was approved in 2008. Following Okorodudu's tenure, Dr. James Coaxum, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership (January/2004 - March/2004) and (2011-2014), became the new Coordinator. Highlights from his tenure, include sponsoring a curriculum proposal to completely overhaul the major and establishing the Annual Welcome Back Reception. Currently, Drs. Tanya Clark, Assistant Professor of English and Chanelle Rose, Associate Professor of History, are the Co-Coordinators of AS.