A reconfigured academic minor at Niagara University focuses on the study of the diaspora of African-descended people and cultures.
Launched this fall, the sequencing of courses for the Africana/black studies minor includes areas of study on the history of Africa, the African-American (U.S. and Canada) experience (both historically and in contemporary times), Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Hispanic, and other cultures, and descents of African peoples.
The program's interdisciplinary offerings range across traditional fields of sociology, criminology, history, literature, political sciences, law, communications and education.
"Programs like the Africana/black studies minor demonstrate the power of Niagara University by effectively engaging our students in the community in accordance with our Vincentian mission and values," said Dr. Michael J. Durfee, assistant professor of history and director of the Africana/black studies minor. "At the same time, these young people are provided with a multidisciplinary and comparative framework through which to explore contemporary domestic problems facing urban communities and nonwhite residents."
Housed in Niagara's College of Arts and Sciences and anchored within its history department, the minor will build upon several of the university's traditional course offerings, which include the Civil Rights Movement, origins of the urban crisis, the war on drugs, and mass incarceration.
Two courses of study are offered as part of the minor: a "domestic" track, which emphasizes more recent developments in African-American history, and a "diaspora" track, which addresses historical antecedents in African history.
Community involvement is a significant component of the minor, as well. The university's relationships with the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Area furnish students with a variety of hands-on opportunities to work directly with historical artifacts pertaining to the area's rich African-American past. This provides practical experience for students looking to work in museum fields, the nonprofit sector, politics, or those looking to pursue higher degrees in history or social studies education.
The recently announced "Big Eagle Little Eagle" mentorship program with Niagara Falls High School is an additional avenue for students to become engaged in the community. Durfee, who holds multiple degrees in history, will be among those working with the student-mentors to document the value of the outreach for the university and the community-at-large.
To learn more about the Africana/black studies minor, contact Durfee at 716-286-8082 or [email protected].