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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 26, 2007

UI African American Studies Program hosts open house Nov. 29

The University of Iowa African American Studies Program (AASP) will host an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29 on the fifth floor of the Jefferson Building to showcase the program's new location. Students, faculty, staff and members of the general public are invited to join AASP faculty, staff and students for food, celebration and information about the major and minor in African American Studies.

"Our program focuses on the study of people of African descent in the United Sates and the African Diaspora," said Richard Turner, AASP coordinator and an associate professor in religious studies and African American studies in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "Because a thorough understanding of the African American experience cannot be achieved through study restricted to the perspective of a single discipline, all students are required to pursue courses in the humanities, social sciences and performing arts."

The new African American Studies Program officially began in fall 2006 and now has 15 faculty members and a new location on the 5th floor in the Jefferson Building, Turner said. The African American Studies faculty draws upon faculty from American studies, communication studies, health and sports studies, history, journalism and mass communications, religious studies, rhetoric, theatre arts, and women's studies, all located in CLAS. Future course work in political economy, sociology, gender and sexism, and the construction of race and identity is planned.

Turner said the program's predecessor, the African American World Studies Program, originated in 1969 through courses intended to foster awareness of African Americans' role in the development of the United States and the world.

"Our students develop talents in writing and critical thinking about the historical and contemporary significance of race, gender and class in the making of the modern world," Turner said. "Our students pursue careers in education, public policy, public health, social work, business, law, professional sports, performing arts and academia. Our slogan is 'Major in African American Studies for a career that counts in the 21st century.'"

Turner said that the program's core classes are in demand, with more than 60 students enrolled this semester in both an Introduction to African American Society and Introduction to African American Culture.

"A major feature of our program is the African American Studies Seminar Series which brings distinguished scholars and artists in African American Studies to our campus," Turner said. For example, last March, the program brought Valerie Smith to the UI campus. Smith is a scholar of African American literature and chair of the African American Studies at Princeton. In October, the program also co- sponsored the Obermann Center Symposium on Black Middle Class Performance and brought to Iowa the internationally renowned poet and playwright, Amiri Baraka as the keynote speaker for the symposium.

For more information on the African American Studies Program, see For more information or special accommodations to attend the open house, call the AASP staff in advance at 319-335-3821.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Richard Turner, UI African American Studies Program, 319-335-2175,; Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070,