Departmental Periodic Program Review (AY 2020-2021)

Executive Summary

Founded in 1970 as a consequence of student protests, the Department of African and African American Studies at SUNY-Brockport proudly continues in that tradition of protest and struggle. Knowing that the “weapons of our warfare are not carnal,” we wield cutting edge pedagogical techniques to reorient the student to an epistemology rooted in Africana experiences and worldviews at odds to yet co-existent with the predominantly Euro-centric American epistemes. Our primary goals are to present the learner with a different way of examining the world as a means of expanding her/his intellect and capacity to think beyond the confines of the chauvinistic dominant culture. As such we are a key resource to the University’s commitment to preparing students for success in a diverse and globally interdependent world.

Today as our nation reels with the effects of a global pandemic, health care racial/ethnic disparities are laid bare. Also, the continued police’s murder and harassment of people of color with impunity and the subsequent protests coupled with continued divisive and thinly-veiled racist rhetoric from the highest office in the land, the presence of the Department of African and African American Studies is vital to creating a better society through intellectually engaging and defeating the dark forces of White Supremacy that have historically undermined the democratic ideals and continue to threaten the integrity of our nation.

Our department currently has 32 majors and 35 minors with four full-time and three current adjunct professors providing approximately 33 credit hours each semester not counting courses from other departments that cross list with our department (Sociology, History, Political Science, and Women and Gender Studies). Our courses impact over 600 students each semester beyond our majors and minors as the major source of courses on Africa, African-American Studies, and civil rights/social justice. As such, we make unique and indispensable contributions to the University’s course offerings.
In addition to our important course offerings, our self-study identified several strengths along with glaring yet correctable weaknesses. The strengths are

  • Faculty Expertise
  • Demand and need for program
  • Applied Learning Opportunities offered to students
  • Strategic internal and external connections
  • Offering of different perspectives unique to our department
  • Innovation and forward thinking to prepare students for the global village
  • Strong student relationships
  • Unique experiential learning experiences
  • Active campus community involvement

Our weaknesses are cited below.

  • Lack of curriculum specialization
  • Undervaluing of the Ghana Study Abroad Program and perceived opposition of the program from Global Education
  • Lack of and/or challenged decision-making power in the management of the Ghana Study Abroad Program
  • Inadequate curriculum structure
  • Not enough time to reflect on higher goals and direction of department
  • Campus devaluation of program
  • Lack of resources
  • Lack of student funding

The Department of African and African American Studies Department continues to evolve under the leadership of a young department chair with advice from our senior professors. We have one energetic tenure-track assistant professor who provides cogent and needed advice and has taken the lead in recruiting majors and minors to the program. As of now we have an increase of ten majors since our last periodic program review.

The current University administration has made visible efforts to reach out and be more inclusive of the department in all things pertaining to diversity and inclusion. President McPherson has met twice with the department in the past academic year as has Provost Heyning. These increased lines of candid communication are promising as we continue to press for more resources and the expansion of our program. We remain proud that the University has maintained the independence and integrity of our department while most area post-secondary institutions have combined comparable departments.