Saint Louis University (SLU) in Missouri will be converting its African American Studies program into its own department when the school returns to in-person instruction this fall.
According to incoming Chairperson Christopher Tinson, it is important for US higher education to recognize the African diaspora.
“I think right now it’s even more important than perhaps it’s ever been to just be exposed to and then be able to speak with confidence about African American experience in this country,” he told St. Louis Public Radio.
Tinson has been proposing the creation of the department since 2018. He admitted that the nationwide protest last summer over the killing of George Floyd had increased the impetus for his proposal being approved.
When the program becomes a full department this September, it plans to hire new faculty members, implement graduate studies and study abroad programs, and introduce courses about black women in the Midwest, Afrofuturism, and the history of reparations.
Tinson also hopes for the creation of an African American Studies center where students and teachers can hold seminars and conduct academic research.
Freshman Reacts to Creation of New Department
Political Science and African American Studies student Ryan Staples said he is looking forward to taking new courses in the department. In October, he entered the African American Studies program to better understand the plight of Black Americans.
He hopes that the department will allocate resources to sponsor more community events for minorities.
“The more I learn about African American studies, the better I am equipped to handle situations in the future, because as a leader on campus having knowledge is the first thing people will respect you for,” he told St. Louis Public Radio.