People, some reminders:
This is not a difficult assignment. You
have been given all the resources you will need;
including a list of the criteria that will be used
to grade your paper. Therefore, the essay will be
graded accordingly--meaning, you will get no
breaks. <--Read this sentence again.
- (a) Please make sure that you
incorporate into your essay the points about
civic engagement, civil society, and democracy
and how these things relate to Gen Ed classes
(like the one you are taking now). Note that at
the end of the instructions for the paper (link
below), there are a number of slide images that
explain to you what these things mean. Study
them carefully because they are very relevant to
your essay. Additionally, go through the
LEARNING OUTCOMES (link below). At the same time, when discussing the issue of relevance of African American Studies do not forget about the matter of sociology of knowledge (see below).
- (b) African American Studies today
incorporates such other fields as African
Studies, Afro-Caribbean Studies, Afro-European
Studies, and so on. You must also discuss this
fact by explaining what these fields cover.
- (c) When you describe the sample of
courses being regularly (or usually) offered today at Yale, Harvard,
etc. do NOT mention traditional kinds of courses
(such as ones on slavery or history or
literature or music). Instead, you must describe
courses that can show how wide a field African
American Studies is today in terms of the large
variety of courses that are taught.
- (d) Make sure your outline is
detailed enough to serve as a good summary of
what you are going to write.
Institutional support refers to things like providing adequate funding;
hiring teachers; and requiring advisors to encourage students to do a
major or minor in African American Studies--especially targeting those
students who intend to go into professional fields like medicine, law,
business, education, psychology, and communication. Similarly,
encouraging students who intend to drop out of the university because
they are not doing well in their intended major in, for example, science
and engineering to consider the possibility of doing a major in African
American Studies. Think about this: if a student is majoring in
history, or English, or political science, or some other similar field,
that student can just as easily major in African American Studies
without undermining hers/his career goals.
Institutional support, by the way, also includes making the school
curriculum--meaning Gen Ed curriculum-- supportive of African American
Studies courses. (To see one example of how this issue can play out in
practice, read this unpublished letter I wrote sometime back available here.)
- (f) Sociology of knowledge, to explain it in very simple terms, refers to a branch of sociology that studies the fact that knowledge is not always neutral (even though that is how it should be)--it can be and often is influenced by those who have power. For example, there are those who are saying that climate change is a hoax, while others are saying that it is not.
Now, even if the scientists are correct that climate change is real,
they don't have as much power as the ruling elites to ensure that
society acts on this scientific fact. In other words, power-relations, in terms of class, is an important determinant here about the authenticity of the relevant science. In the same way, for many years in the history of this country, knowledge of African American history (or women's history, or Native American history, or Asian American history, or LatinX history, etc.) was not considered "real" history or authentic history--so it was not usually taught in most places of learning. Why? Because of racism (or sexism). That is why it was necessary to create the "Black History" month. Here is a question for you: What about you? Do you consider African American history important? Your answer will be determined by a sociology of knowledge factor(s), such as race, class, gender, etc. It will not be determined (except in the case of a few) by the desire for truth about U.S. history--which of course is really, really sad, to put it mildly.
Paper Instructions (Go through these
instructions with a fine tooth-comb!)
Reference Sources (Item nos. 1, 6, and
Sample of African American Studies Courses
(Item no. 8)