Posted October 15, 2013

Temple's doctoral program in African American Studies celebrates 25 years

Temple University’s Department of African American Studies — the first such program to offer a Ph.D. — will celebrate 25 years of offering the doctoral degree with a conference designed to bring together the program's most prominent alumni.

The October 17 conference, “Africana Studies: Inspiring Excellence,” will also kick off a year-long conversation on the discipline with invited speakers from around the country.

"After more than 160 doctoral graduates, Temple’s African American Studies program is the most dominant influence on the field," said professor and chair of African American Studies Molefi Kete Asante, who founded the doctoral program at Temple in 1987.

"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," he said.

Asante pioneered the Afrocentric philosophy at the center of Temple's 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 said.

According to Asante, who is among the most published contemporary African American scholars in the country with more than 75 books and over 500 articles, Temple’s doctoral program changed the nature of scholarship by asserting that marginalized groups should be encouraged to speak for themselves.

“Today, Temple remains committed to a full analytical discourse on every aspect of the African presence trans-generationally and trans-continentally,” said Ama Mazama, associate professor and graduate chair in the Department of African American Studies.

Asante said that Temple's program will continue to provide vision and leadership in the area of African American Studies.

"Now that there are more doctoral programs in the field, the Temple conference and year-long 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," he said.