The African Studies Program (ASP) is committed to sustaining an environment that is welcoming and supportive of every individual, so that they may pursue their intellectual pursuits and academic, professional, and personal goals without barriers. We embrace diversity in all its aspects, including but not limited to diversity with respect to race, ethnicity, color, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, socioeconomic class, religion, disability, age, military status, political ideology, visa status, economic status, geographic location, and language/linguistic ability. ASP values diversity and the ways in which it enriches our scholarly engagement with each other and the broader world.
We fully endorse IU’s definition and statement of diversity. The Office of the Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (DEMA) offers resources, trainings, programs, and more. Our faculty and students are engaged in many of these efforts, on multiple levels, across campus and in the broader community.
ASP is also committed to the promotion of diverse perspectives and encouraging debate on international affairs. This commitment is at the heart of IU and reinforced by our visionary former President Herman B Wells, who aspired to “bring the world to Indiana and Indiana to the world” and spurred the founding of IU’s area studies programs in the 1950s to promote language acquisition and area studies understanding. IU further embraced Wells’ vision by creating the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies (HLS) in which the African Studies Program resides. It is reflective of IU’s commitment to the study of the cultures, languages, and societies that shape the world. Our ethos is to celebrate differences and seek mutual understanding.
The ASP and HLS hire intellectually curious faculty who come from diverse social backgrounds and adopt a wide range of conceptual orientations to understand Africa and the world. We promote the discussion of diverse perspectives, including worldviews from abroad and the range of perspectives in American academy and politics, in our curriculum and our National Resource Center programming. HLS and the ASP embrace academic freedom in all our activities, and we seek multiple viewpoints on world affairs because we are aware of the limitations of settled thinking.
The ASP’s faculty-student working groups reflect our commitment to diverse perspectives. The academic programing associated with our five working groups (Muslim Africa, Displaced Africans, Global Visual Cultures/New Media in Africa, IU Congo Working Group, and O’Meara Southern Africa Working Group) engage contemporary issues with scholars from Africa and elsewhere at the IU Global Gateways. The ASP’s interdisciplinary graduate seminars and special topics lectures bring visiting scholars from various backgrounds to IU to present and debate their perspectives on vital issues. During the pandemic, we have expanded our reach through interactive virtual programs, inviting experts and students to participate from countries across the world.
We recognize that international travel is a powerful way to expose individuals to diverse perspectives. ASP thus works with IU entities to make international travel accessible to IU students as well as our MSI and CC partners (through unique training programs in Senegal for example). We recognize the historical and contemporary inequities of access to study abroad programs among populations of students and are working to address these. We value efforts of IU’s OVPDEMA, for example, to provide scholarships to underrepresented students to participate in the IU Books & Beyond Program to Rwanda. We are working with the IU Global Gateway for Teachers to open study-abroad opportunities to students at our MCI/CC partner institutions with Education tracks (such as HBCU Huston-Tillotson). International acquisition trips allow the ASP librarian to collect materials published in Africa that often are not in U.S. repositories, which addresses issues of access to – and legitimization of- African scholarship on the continent.
ASP further strives to have our faculty, staff and associate instructors reflect the diversity of the United States. We want our students to see themselves reflected in African Studies, to know there are individuals who understand their perspectives and who can be mentors. Ninety percent of ASP’s core faculty, 76% of our affiliated faculty and 100% of our graduate associate instructors are from underrepresented groups.
The African Studies Program welcomes your feedback on our efforts, as we continually seek to improve how we address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.