Photo and Story by Jarron Parker / Contributing Writer
MTSU is one step closer to providing the first Africana Studies major in the Middle Tennessee region.
African American Studies is currently only a minor program at MTSU, but Thomas Bynum, the director of the program, has been working since 2013 to make it a major. When Bynum became the director he said that one of his long-term goals was to bring the degree program to MTSU. According to the Africana Studies major’s Goals and Objectives, roughly 20 percent of MTSU’s student population identify as African-American, yet there is no degree program that studies people of the African diaspora.
The program will not only “educate people about black culture,” but it will also “set the tone to have the discussion about race,” Bynum said. He also said students should expect this degree program to prepare them for a diverse workforce by helping them become “better critical thinkers, communicators and writers while linking oppression in America to around the world.”
Non-African American students should not feel excluded from this program as its objectives are to prepare all students to work in a multicultural and diverse environment. Courses will also include Women’s Studies as well as Mexican and Caribbean Studies. Students who are currently African-American Studies minors will have the option to apply their minor credits to the degree program. This means that African American Studies minor students who have a declared major can apply their minor credits and graduate with two degrees if they choose. Students may choose between a Bachelor’s of Science or a Bachelor’s of Arts in Africana Studies.
“Students should not worry what career they can have with this degree,” Bynum said.
The purpose of the program is to produce people who are able to work and communicate with people of multiple backgrounds upon graduation. In the Africana Studies letter of application, the goal is to prepare students for careers in education, city planning, journalism, international relations, public health and social work.
The final step in the implementation of the program is for external reviewer Glenn Chambers of Michigan State University to review the proposed program. In reviewing, Chambers will examine the need for the program on campus as well as the resources to teach the program, such as the faculty and needed courses.
For more information on the minor or the possible major, Bynum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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