KU News Release

April 22, 2011
Contact: Shawn Leigh Alexander, Department of African and African-American Studies, 785-864-3054

African and African-American studies department celebrates 40th anniversary

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its Department of African and African-American Studies with a symposium Thursday, April 28.

The event begins at noon at Alderson Auditorium in the Kansas Union with a series of panels chronicling the history of the department, from the student activism that led to its creation in 1970-71 to its current existence as the only university in the Big 12 Conference offering a master of arts program in African and African-American studies.

The symposium concludes at 5:45 p.m., followed by reception and entertainment in the Malott Room.

In addition to reviewing the department’s history, the symposium will stimulate an interdisciplinary dialogue concerning the practice, the state, the history and the future of African and African-American studies in the academy and beyond.

KU’s African and African-American studies department is one of a few such academic departments that were created in the late 1960s and early 1970s throughout the country. KU’s department is within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“The 40th anniversary of AAAS presents a unique opportunity to chronicle more than four decades of work to create a stable academic unit in the face of daunting challenges both within and without the university,” said Peter Ukpokodu, department chair.

“Since its inception at KU, the African and African-American studies department has continued to alter the very fabric of university life and teaching.

“The formation of AAAS created a space for students who had previously been excluded to be included in the university curriculum and in the process changed the fundamental character of higher education forever. The women and men affiliated with the department, over the course of the past 40 years, with their interdisciplinary, multiracial intellectual focus, have continually been at the forefront of the transformation of academia to a more global, diverse, interdisciplinary place of higher learning.”

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

kunews@ku.edu | (785) 864-3256 | 1314 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045

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