Florida Tech Announces New African American Studies Program
A new course is being offered this fall at Florida Institute of Technology Modern African American Studies is one that hopes to be the cornerstone to a new minor program that will enhance the university’s humanities curriculum.
The minor will include interdisciplinary courses aimed at studying and fostering further understanding of the social, political, economic, and cultural forces that impact the lives of black communities in the US, as well as Caribbean, Africa and around the globe.
The inaugural course a three credit elective in the FIT’s School of Arts and Communication will be taught by Don Harrell.
Harrell, who has been an adjunct professor in the African Studies Department at the University of Central Florida for several years, is also an ethnomusicologist, folklorist, and musician.
His accolades include developing and instructing various university-level courses including African Intellectual Thought, African American Humanities, and The Evolution of Hip Hop. Harrell is the co-founder of the internationally acclaimed African Performing Arts Company, Orisirisi African Folklore.
“The bottom line is we cannot always have all the answers when it comes to the
roots and progression of black history and we cannot move forward to understand many things until we know where we’ve been,” said Harrell. “By studying many aspects of history and cultures we can help formulate questions that relate to modern day practices, customs, religious beliefs, values, music, etc. about African Americans,” said Harrell.
Harrell hopes to help touch on many aspects of black history and said his class will focus on “filling in the blanks” about the cultural diversity of black populations and their individual struggles and successes beginning centuries ago.
“Florida Tech has long been dedicated to interdisciplinary studies covering the human experience,” said Robert Taylor, head of the School of Arts and Communication.
“This program will be a natural and welcome expansion of this focus and an example of our core belief in the power of education to foster understanding.”
“We have a huge global ethnic student population at FIT and have always been at the forefront of offering diverse educational opportunities,” said Professor Taylor.
Furaha Merritt a senior majoring in information systems and President of the Florida Tech Black Student Union. She thinks the course will bring the full and true story of the black American experience to
the students of FIT.
“Implementing this course shows that Florida Tech is invested in dismantling the barriers present in institutions of higher learning and creating opportunities for black voices to be heard,” she said. “I hope students who take this course and the entire minor program can learn that real change can’t begin until we face the ugly truth of history in America by learning what took place and its long lasting effects on all citizens.
She added, “I hope that students will be inspired by the beauty, courage, determination, and tenacity of African Americans to join in the fight for human rights until all barriers and obstacles are relics of the past and true equality shines bright in the future.”
“This inaugural minor in African American Studies could not have come at a more key time in our history,” said Taylor. “With the riots and racism related events that have unfolded in recent months, I think this course will truly be one that students of all nationalities can benefit from.”