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Thursday, October 20, 2016

PITT-BRADFORD OFFERING MINOR IN AFRICANA STUDIES

BRADFORD, Pa. -- A new minor in Africana studies at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford will explore the culture, literature and history of people who are of African descent.
Pitt-Bradford is only the second campus in the University of Pittsburgh system to offer the course of study, which is also offered at the Pittsburgh campus.

Dr. ‘BioDun Ogundayo, associate professor of French and comparative literature, is directing the new course of study, which will require students to complete 18 credits, including an introduction to Africana studies and courses in cultural perspectives and social sciences.

Ogundayo said that students have been expressing interest in a minor for the last four or five years and that, as the national conversation around race has come to the forefront, he has seen more interest in classes that he teaches such as African-American Writers and Modern African Literature: The Novel.

Ogundayo said he sees that interest from a variety of students curious to understand the roots of tension between black and white peoples. African-American and African students are often as undereducated as their counterparts of other races when it comes to the history of slavery and colonization, segregation and the toxic legacy of Jim Crow laws, institutionalized violence, cultural disruption and dislocation, he said.

“This minor is not targeted totally at African-American students,” Ogundayo said. “Cultures do not exist in protective cocoons, and this is an opportunity for students to achieve a greater understanding of racial issues.”

Dr. Kevin Ewert, professor of theater, has been teaching two Africana studies courses for the last few years in Modern Black Theatre and Modern African-American Cinema. As a member of the university’s diversity committee, he contributed to the development of the new minor.

“It’s hard to understand things if you can’t talk about them, and this new program is the ultimate conversation-starter,” Ewert said. “The classes I have been teaching have given students the opportunity to talk about race through the lens of art. Whether engaging with the fierce energy of Blaxploitation films of the 1970s or the theatrical genius of Pittsburgh’s August Wilson, I think we’ve all been coming away with clearer eyes on such an important subject.”

The minor is now available. Many courses required for the minor also satisfy general education requirements students must meet.

For more information on the Africana studies minor, contact Ogundayo at ogundayo@pitt.edu or 814-362-5015.

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