Dr. Arnetha F. Ball
Director, African & African American Studies
Greetings! It is a pleasure to extend this welcome to you, the majors and minors in African & African American Studies, the faculty, and the entire AAAS community. As always, we here at AAAS are continuing to focus our attention on providing personalized attention to each of our students, with special emphasis on student advising, mentorship, and opportunities for student research and community leadership.
I look forward to meeting with each of you in one-on-one conferences throughout the year with myself and with our Associate Director, Dr. Cheryl Brown. I am also looking forward to seeing you all at our many exciting events, including our Race Forward activities, with our special focus this year on the theme of Race and Education.
This year, we will also focus specialized attention on initiatives designed to expand the AAAS community by increasing the number of AAAS majors and minors and by involving students in dialogues with scholars and students who are engaged in African and African American scholarship across the disciplines and across national and international boundaries. We are enthusiastically encouraging students across the disciplines to consider the option of double majoring in AAAS and considering a travel abroad program on the African continent. Regardless of whether a student is already majoring in business, physics, biomedical engineering, history, mathematics, or education, etc., a double major in AAAS would provide them opportunities to gain a deeper, more textured, and more nuanced understanding of that content with opportunities to critically consider the application and implications of their study within an African and/or African American comparative context. In addition to this initiative, we are also planning collaborative events throughout the year that will enrich and enhance our presence and sense of community across the campus.
AAAS' logo—the Sankofa bird, symbolizes moving forward while always keeping an eye to the past and its importance, a fitting representation for AAAS as we both reflect back on our forty years and also forward in this new millennium.
New Curriculum & Nationally Renowned Scholarship
Over fifty prestigious and award-winning faculty from over twenty disciplines participate in African & African American Studies. Our Program is highly interdisciplinary and integrated into all fields of study across campus and across the curriculum; affiliated faculty offer cross-listed classes in every realm of intellectual inquiry, from Business to Sociology to Art and Literature. AAAS offers a field of study that explores the experiences of people of African descent in Black Atlantic societies, including the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Courses in the program explore and analyze the rich, complex, and distinctively African American social structures and cultural traditions that Africans in the Diaspora have created. Students are exposed to the historical, cultural, literary, political, economic, and social development of people of African descent in the Americas.
We aim to provide students with an outstanding, rigorous, and engaging intellectual experience in which students acquire analytic skills grounded in a traditional discipline as well as interdisciplinary skills of investigation and research. African American Studies offers training of special interest to those considering admission to graduate or professional schools and careers in education, literary studies journalism, law, business, international relations, politics, psychology, anthropology, social science, theatre, performing arts and cultural studies, among many others. It is fitting that we pursue these goals in conjunction with Stanford’s Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, to underscore the connectedness of, and intra-ethnic dynamics between, African Americans and many other groups and peoples.
To that end, we modified our undergraduate curriculum last year. This new curriculum better reflects both student interests as well as our faculty expertise in the latest scholarship of the African American and Africana Studies. We worked to make the requirements more transparent, more in line with peer programs at Stanford, and easier to fulfill for those double-majoring or minoring.
Centers of Gravity
An important part of my role involves cultivating an even stronger, close-knit community of undergraduate majors and minors, to make the African & African American Studies your intellectual and social home at Stanford. In the next couple years, I will seek to make AAAS a communications clearing house: if you drop by our office, you will be able to find out about—at a glance—not only all our events and programs, but also what events are coming up with our many allied organizations, including the Center for Black Performing Arts, the Black Community Services Center, the Institute for Diversity in the Arts, the African Studies Center, the Center for Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity, the Program for Feminist Studies, and many student groups.
We are always interested in hearing your thoughts about the major, and about what would make your career here in Stanford’s African & African American Studies Program exciting, challenging, and memorable. Please do not hesitate to drop by my during office hours or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or our Associate Director at email@example.com.