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Learn more about Spalding’s new minor in African-American studies

Steve Jones

With Black History Month in February set to wrap up, it’s an appropriate time to point out that Spalding has expanded its academic offerings within the School of Liberal Studies this year to include a minor in African-American studies .

The minor requires 18 credit hours of coursework in African-American studies and other disciplines such as history, anthropology, English and religious studies.

Required courses include the new Introduction to African-American Studies (AAS 201) and African Civilizations (AAS 300), along with African-American History I (HIST 383).

The School of Liberal Studies describes the new minor this way:

Students who complete the minor in African-American Studies will explore and articulate the historical, social, political, religious, and literary experiences of African-Americans within the broader context of American and global culture, and critically examine the role of African-Americans in the development of the United States. Through this interdisciplinary minor, students will gain enhanced perspectives and awareness of diverse cultures, and the skills to critically examine, through written and oral reflection, historical and contemporary issues related to race, gender, power, class, social inequality, and social justice. The African-American Studies Minor prepares students to enter into and flourish within the global marketplace and community. 

‘Fertile ground’ for learning

Spalding history instructor Deonte Hollowell teaches African-American history courses at Spalding and helped organize the curriculum for the African-American studies minor.  Hollowell has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Pan-African studies from the University of Louisville and a doctorate in African-American studies from Temple University.

He said the minor was created out of the passion for the subject matter shared by him and Liberal Studies Faculty Chair Pattie Dillon, a history professor whose courses include a class examining the Jim Crow era (HIST 330).

Hollowell said students have become increasingly interested in the new minor as word about it has spread. He said he has a packed class this term for one of his African-American history courses.

“I think people want that body of knowledge,” Hollowell said, “and when people take my courses and realize it’s about more than just African-American history and facts and a survey type of information and (see that) it’s really about the overall black experience, I think people are interested in taking these courses.”

Hollowell said an African-American studies minor would be a useful complement to many majors on campus, especially if a student’s future profession involves working closely with African-American communities.

“This is a way for you to boost your major,” Hollowell said, “and to have some kind of certification to say you’re qualified to work within this population of folks.”

Students majoring in liberal studies can also make African-American studies their disciplinary concentration.

He said the geographic location of Spalding in downtown Louisville and its mission of embracing compassion, diversity and identity make the university “a fertile ground for something that African-American studies can provide for students.”

Hollowell hopes to see African-American studies offerings at Spalding grow. He mentioned potentially developing a future course on the history of African-American communities and police.

Hollowell would also like to see Spalding eventually try to develop an institute based around African-American studies that would engage the community and that could be a “hub for political activism and an academic and intellectual exchange.”

New courses being offered at Spalding

AAS 201 – The Introduction to African-American Studies: This course traces the black intellectual experience as it manifests on American college campuses.

AAS 300 – African Civilizations: This course provides a survey of Africa’s contributions to world history and civilization beginning around 5000 B.C.E. up to the modern era.

AAS 385 – Special Topics in African American Studies: These courses cover a variety of new themes in African-American Studies inquiry and are offered on an occasional basis.

AAS 349 – Praxis in African-American Studies: This course offers students an opportunity to investigate issues that affect African-Americans in Louisville. Students will work with selected community organizations to work toward negotiations on legislative matters. They will also network with grassroots leaders in the community to research and solve social ills.

ENG 310 – Topics in Sociocultural Linguistics: Through a variety of topics in sociocultural and applied linguistics, students will inquire into critical issues such as language variations among different ethnic groups, linguistic identities, language attitudes and prejudices and others.

Learn more about the School of Liberal Studies at Spalding.edu/liberal-studies.

History instructor Deonte Hollowell
History instructor Deonte Hollowell