08 Oct 2013
October 8, 2013

First Doctoral Program in African American Studies to Celebrate 25th year

October 8, 2013

October 17th Conference at Temple University celebrates the achievements of the field of African American Studies

PHILADELPHIA.  Temple University’s Department of African American Studies will celebrate its 25th anniversary of offering the doctorate degree with a conference of outstanding alumni in October and a yearlong intellectual conversation in the discipline with numerous national and international scholars.  The theme of the conference is “Africana Studies: Inspiring Excellence.”  The conference features some of Temple’s most gifted alumni in the discipline of African American Studies.

“Temple’s Ph.D. program in African American Studies has produced more doctorates in the field than the twelve other programs combined,” said Professor Molefi Kete Asante, who founded the doctoral program in l987. Asante was appointed the new chair of the department in July, 2013.

Ten years after Temple’s PhD program was established the University of Massachusetts at Amherst created its doctoral program becoming the second university program to start a PhD in African American Studies.  There are now thirteen programs with the University of Louisville being the last to announce the creation of a doctoral degree in African American Studies.

The October 17th conference is designed to showcase some of the most successful scholars in African American Studies. After more than 160 doctoral graduates, Temple’s African American Studies program is the most dominant influence on the field. Whether in terms of scholars heading programs and departments or publishing scholarly books and articles Temple’s African American Studies program leads the discipline in interpreting the future of the field.  Temple’s doctoral alumni in African American Studies have published more than 200 books since the creation of the program in l988. Many of Temple’s graduates such as Christel Temple of the University of Pittsburgh, Victor Okafor of Eastern Michigan University, Suzuko Morikawa of Chicago State University, Marta Moreno Vega, University of Puerto Rico, Ji Yuan, Jilin University, and James Naazir Conyers of the University of Houston have contributed to the growth of the field by writing major books on African agency, centeredness, and Afrocentric location theory.

A generation of public intellectuals, activist scholars, and reflective creators has roots in the Afrocentric philosophy pioneered by the Temple program. Teaching students how to see the world through the eyes of African people and to provide perspectives on African agency are at the base of Temple’s emphasis on theoretical and practical values of African American Studies.

Asante, who is the most published contemporary African American scholar with more than 75 books and over 500 articles, claims that Temple’s doctoral program changed the nature of scholarship in the American Academy. Now that there are more doctoral programs in the field, the Temple conference and yearlong celebration seeks to bring together many of the other departments in an effort to establish a consortium of doctoral-granting programs in African American Studies.

Dr. Ama Mazama, Temple’s Graduate Chair, herself a major proponent of Afrocentric theory and the editor of the Journal of

Black Studies, said “Temple remains committed to a full analytical discourse on every aspect of the African presence trans-generationally and trans-continentally.”

The conference will honor two departments that have special relationships to the Temple program: State University of New York at Albany and the Georgia State University of Atlanta. The first university has sent the highest number of graduate students to the Temple program and the second has hired more Temple graduates than any other university.  Dr. Marica Sutherland, Chair of Africana Studies at SUNY Albany, and Dr. Akinyele Umoja, Chair of Africana Studies at Georgia State University, will give remarks.

The program will start at 9 AM in Walk Auditorium in Ritter Hall  with a welcome from President Neil Theobald and continue till 3:30 PM. The public is invited and the program is free.

Co-sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts, the Departments of Sociology, History, and Anthropology, and the Graduate School, for their support of this program.

For Information: 215 204 4322