The Georgetown University Student Association demonstrated support for an African American Studies Program in the Georgetown College by passing a resolution this Tuesday.
Citing the importance of scholarship on African American history and culture to the University’s academic discourse, several students, working with faculty members, have begun circulating a petition lobbying the College to create a formal academic program.
According to Carrie Solages (SFS ‘01), one of the students leading the effort to establish the program, over 400 signatures have been collected on the petition to date. The group has set a goal of 2,000 signatures.
Solages, who was also instrumental in working with the African Studies Certificate Program in the School of Foreign Service, said that a similar strategy would be employed in the process of creating the African American Studies Program.
“We are asking for resources to be dedicated to the creation of a department, in which current courses [focused on African American studies] would be centralized and where new courses would be developed,” Solages said.
Noting that many universities of Georgetown’s caliber have already institutionalized similar programs, Jamal Epps (CAS ‘01), another program supporter, outlined the additional requirements that must be fulfilled for the program to be established. Epps said the History Department would need specialists in Western Africa and Caribbean history, the Sociology and Psychology Departments should have scholars researching race and ethnicity and the Government Department would require lecturers on black or urban politics.
Support for the program has also arisen from current faculty members concentrating on African American historical, theological and literary scholarship. Thus far, history professor Michael Kazin, theology professor Diana Hayes, and English professor Angelyn Mitchell have all expressed their support for the informal proposal, according to Epps.
The Office of the Provost said University Provost Dorothy Brown was unable to comment officially on the resolution until she had seen an actual proposal for the program.
“Dr. Brown is certainly open to the idea, if not in favor of it,” Epps said.
Enumerating the difficulties that could potentially surround the creation of a new program, Epps said, “I think it’s important that the African American experience, as part of the American experience, is given adequate attention in the classroom.”