Indiana University Bloomington is public/government owned university in America that offers an array of faculties includes technical professions, as well as liberal arts. This university that is popularly known as IU Bloomington is located in Bloomington, Indiana. The university was founded in the year 1820 as a state seminary. Today, several years after this institution was established, the university offers a large number of various programs to its relatively large student population. Some of the faculties that can be found in this university include the school of business, public health, Jacob’s school of music, school of law and education and many others. Indiana University Bloomington is in real sense one of the largest universities in the United States in terms of student population and the number courses offered. The program of black studies is known in the university as African American and Africa in Diaspora studies (AAAD) and was introduced in the university in 1970. This program focuses on the history of black Africans in sub-Saharan countries, as well as black Africans in the Diaspora. This essay aims to focus on the black studies programs and answer the following questions; “What are black studies, how have they been conducted in this school and what is the capability of such a program in positively changing a learner’s life? What are the strengths, weaknesses and plans of the university in offering this program? What are the advantages and disadvantages of studying this program and its overall importance?
History and definition of the program
The history of black studies programs in the United States is traceable to the 1960s. This era referred to as troubled sixties was a period that was characterized by perpetual international wars, as well as the famous cold war. Within the same period, an exponential growth and rise of African American right movements came out in full swing to demand their right of equality and fair treatment in the national platform. Black community in the streets and campus areas of jurisdiction hit the road in protest and demonstrations. At times, these protests would be met by bloody brutality of the police- a thing that would result in fatal clashes. Barlow & Shapiro, 1971 in their book An End to Silence: The San Francisco State Student Movement in the 60s noted that while demonstrations went on in the street, campuses too experienced great pressure from black students. Among the lists of demands wanted by blacks included the introduction of a black studies program that would help in availing education to black masses and the knowledge of their history and also creating opportunities for all regardless of race and gender to access higher education. After a series of lobbying and pressuring by the Afro-American Student Union of the University of California- Berkeley, the first curriculum of black studies was introduced in January 1969.Due to demand and the calling of the time as well as Indiana University trying to create a national reputation for itself, the program was introduced later in 1970. Today at IU Bloomington, the department of AADS has enormously grown and currently offers multidisciplinary courses of art and social liberal sciences. Just as its name suggests, black studies can be defined as an academic field that focuses on the study of Africans in both Africa and other world regions. This curriculum concerns the African history culture and political stratification before, during and after slavery and also the onset of the colonial era and its aftermath. The study also encompasses experiences of black Africans, their challenges and their struggle for freedom and right in the Diaspora such as in America and other white dominated countries.
Research and areas of interest
My focus, therefore, was on this program in IU Bloomington. My main aim was to establish how well the program is being administered in the university and the positive life skills leant by learners specializing in this program. In regards to the effective applicability and implementation of the course, I was concerned in such matters like how students are being taught by their tutors, the method of teaching, materials for teaching and the general promotion of a friendly class environment within the university premises. The importance of the program is also analyzed in my research as well as the success areas of the school, its strength weakness and the plans the institution has in store. I used various methods of collecting data. I interviewed several students, teachers and the president of the school. I also used questionnaires and visited the school’s library to ascertain whether materials useful for this study are available. I visited the history of the school in their school website.
Senior student representatives in the student council responded well to my questions though to some, they were unaware of the college's history. Other populations of the school filled the questionnaires well and welcomed my idea of research. The department of art and the tutors involved in teaching the students on the program too were very helpful.
The research was very successful in most of its areas save for some questions that did not get an answer. Most of the students did not know when this program started in Indiana University Bloomington. A number of them had no clue of when and how the program came into existence in this country although most of them were aware of the history that preceded the program, especially the black student fraternity. Almost all the students in the college expressed their positive approval of the value the program has to students undertaking it.
Some stated that the program is crucial since it helps learners have a clear understanding of the black history, with their culture as well as behavioral tendencies that help learners in dealing with them especially in areas of community service such medicine and teaching. Students rated their tutors highly in matters of service delivery although some still thought that there was a room of further improvement in methods of teaching. A number of students applauded their tutors in matters concerning the creation of a cordial student teacher relationship. They said that this helped the class to be very lively and at the same time improved the understanding of the program by students. The method of teaching adopted by most tutors in this institution and especially in this program was that of free tutor-student interaction accompanied by a free warm classroom environment. The university's president gave some highlights on the importance of this program to learners and to the image of the school. He was able to narrate that IU Bloomington was started as a public utility and had the responsibility of serving all the citizens in equal platforms regardless of the race or gender. The library was well equipped and was a valuable tool for those students who wished to broaden their scope of knowledge. To many students, it comes in handy at the time they want to revise for their examinations and as a source of reference materials in their research. The president of the university also gave reasons why this program was important for learners and society since according to him; it helped in bringing mutual understanding to the various races especially the black and white race. This mutual understanding of the culture and behavior would contribute to mitigating the scathing effect of racism.
IU Bloomington has successfully offered this program efficiently owing to the position the university had placed itself in the society. The university since its time inception had been giving a dynamic environment to learners in different areas of study as well as being flexible to change in response to the outside environment. Being one of the highest ranked universities in the country, this has emerged as a strength in handling its curriculum owing to the wide capital and resource base. According to my research, the main strength of this university department of black studies in offering this program is that the ratio of students to teachers is a bit low making it possible for a tutor to satisfactorily serves the class. The school’s library and its rich and ample materials also increase the competitive edge of this university. One of the program's major strengths is that it has helped in diffusing a very thorny racism issue and at the same time helped many black African American citizens to access education through some of sponsorships that come along with this program. The program has in a greater extent helped in creating multiculturalism and rejecting the Western Europe’s culture of conformity that it has imposed to the world in the name of civilization and westernization.
Weaknesses of the university in delivering good service to students include the lack of a proper coordinated outdoor learning that would stimulate the learning of students. Another weakness emanating from the program is that it has led to the emergence of exaggerated afro-centrism among blacks and tutors of this program. These individuals seem to argue that the history and culture of the blacks are hugely intertwined with the world to a point that, without it, the world would not be.
It is obvious that black studies has many advantages to all populations as it helps in reducing cultural dominance while at the same time promotes a multicultural setting. This leads to the reduction of racial discrimination and promotes cohesive society in the country.
Barlow W. & Shapiro.An End to Silence: The San Francisco State Student Movement in the 60s. New York: Pegasus. 1971
Timeka N. Williams, "Revolutionary Minds: Students build Black Studies at SU", Newshouse,. April 24, 2009
Marable, Manning(). Black Scholar;Blueprint for black studies and multiculturalism. Academic Journal.Summer92, Vol. 22 Issue 3, p30. June 2010
Geggus, David P. Haitian Revolutionary Studies. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2002.
Byrne, Kevin. Indiana University, Bloomington Campus. Bloomington: Indiana University, 2011