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First African American Studies degree coming soon to San Antonio university

The program could also help the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures promote African American culture in Texas.

SAN ANTONIO — The University of Texas at San Antonio will begin offering a Bachelor of Arts in African Studies (AAS) in fall 2022, according to a press release. This new degree program will be the only one available in San Antonio and fourth in Texas.

The release says the program will prepare UTSA students in the historical, economic, cultural and sociological factors impacting Black individuals and communities.

The new bachelor's program is unique because it's grounded in a student-centered method of teaching where students and professors contribute to the creation of knowledge, says Jasmine Harris, associate professor and UTSA’s African American Studies program coordinator.

“It’s a discipline that is growing quickly, and we want to be able to stand out and differentiate ourselves from the rest,” Harris said.

The program will prepare students for careers in a variety of professions such as education, business, law, public policy, health care and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. In addition, students will become researchers who can develop, analyze and evaluate policies and practices the influence the African American community, according to the release.

Harris also believes the AAS program could positively impact the San Antonio community. 

“Literally from the first day that my email was up and running, I started to get emails from community members and organizations in the area that focus on Black people and the needs of Black people, and they’re all clamoring to be connected to the program,” Harris says.

Requests for student interns, offers to speak to classes and offers of donations of art and other community and cultural artifacts are requests Harris has received. She also sees the program helping the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures promote African American culture in Texas.

"I really see this program as helping to bolster a pretty close-knit community that’s interested in uplifting one another," Harris says.

The UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts began offering a minor in AAS 2007 as a result of significant university and community support. The program moved to COEHD in 2011 under the direction of Giles. It currently offers courses in Black Communities and Cultures, Writing Black Lives, and Black Social Movements to name a few.

The new Bachelor of Arts in AAS will be offered through its Department of Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality Studies (REGSS).

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