Michigan State University celebrated the opening of a new learning space for the Department of African American and African Studies on Thursday, according to NBC affiliate WILX.
The new 8,400-square-foot learning space is located on the second floor of North Kedzie Hall and will serve as a place to increase student, faculty and staff engagement. The new space also includes social and wellness rooms.
The Department of African American and African Studies was founded at Michigan State University in 2019, and the school launched African American and African Studies as a major back in March of this year. The new bachelor’s degree program was created for students who attend the university with the intent of pursuing a “higher education with a real-world, sincere desire for change.” The cultural practices of African Americans and Africans including Black Feminism, Black Gender Studies, Black Sexuality Studies and Social Justice are included in the curriculum.
MSU Inaugural Chairperson Ruth Nicole Brown said that the undergraduate degree provides an opportunity for students to dream out loud, experience Black joy and demand answers about why systemic inequities still exist.
“Students want opportunities to make a positive difference, hold a critical thought, and radically imagine something needed but does not yet exist. Students want to know how they can contribute to change,” said Brown.
“They yearn for Black joy and educational spaces to dream out loud informed by active witnessing and intellectual curiosities demanding context for historical continuums of injustices and answers as to why systemic inequities persist.”
“They want to know more about Blackness as diasporic belonging, as healing, expansive, and life-affirming. This new degree in AAAS answers that call.”
Religion and Spirituality, Performance, Film and Institutions are also part of the new undergraduate program. AAAS Associate Professor LeConté Dill said that the program will arm graduates with the tools to navigate the world.
“By earning an AAAS degree from MSU, students can expect to enter careers armed with an expanded toolkit of research, art, and activism to lean on as guides on how to move in the world, as we say in AAAS, ‘beyond survival and into wellness,’” she said.
The Department of African American and African Studies is part of the university’s College of Arts and Letters.