UMD adds new African Studies minor
Starting fall 2019, the University of Maryland will offer a new minor in African studies under the Department of African American Studies. The creation of a minor dedicated entirely to African studies would make it the first academic program of its kind at the university.
The minor will be an interdisciplinary field of study where students are expected take courses on the history and culture of African countries. Additionally, the minor will include the study of the economic and political climate that is necessary to ensure Africa’s prospering.
There is a total of 15 credits necessary for completion and 18 credits if the student chooses to participate in the capstone where the student completes independent research, study abroad or an advanced reading seminar of choice.
The introduction course to the minor will be AASP200: “African Civilization,” followed by four concentration courses in “History, Culture, and Language” and “Politics, Society, and Development,” and the optional capstone.
Rahila Olanrewaju, a junior government and politics and economics major, played an integral part in the introduction of the minor. She began the creation of the minor in the fall of 2017 and was assisted by the Department of African American Studies and the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.
Following the creation of the African Languages Association, each student-teacher was asked to join the Student Initiated Courses Program. The program allows students to create and lead courses on campus. The Department of African American Studies has offered student-taught courses in Igbo, Twi and Yoruba, all African languages, since the fall of 2018.
“Placing the African Studies minor in the Department of African American Studies was a strategic decision that made sense from a structural standpoint, and aligned with the department’s goals,” Olanrewaju, a Nigeria-born American said.
“In the same year that I created the minor,” Olanrewaju added, “I also built a new student organization on campus called the African Languages Association, where students could learn African languages from their peers, in the absence of official African language courses taught on campus.”
Olawunmi Togun, a senior computer science major, stated her excitement for the integration of the minor.
“It would be so beneficial for the university, considering the fact that there are so many people from all parts of Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, especially in the [Prince George’s County] area,” Togun said.
“So it makes sense to have some sort of minor to represent the people that are here. I think that's amazing. The university loves to say ‘Diversity, we love diversity,’ but what the actual academics and what you are allowed to study doesn’t reflect that.”