University of Texas at El Paso Academic Catalog

Academic Catalog

African American Studies

Return to: College of Liberal Arts

The African American Studies Program provides individuals of all backgrounds a humanistic lens and course of study for analysis of the Black experience. Research, teaching, and related academic and social activities focus on African American history and culture and attendant complexities of "race" relations in Texas, the American Southwest, the nation, and the Diaspora. The program's curriculum centers on the African American experience as it relates primarily to past, present, and future issues of

  1. economic and business development
  2. leadership and service
  3. changing family structures and values
  4. gender politics
  5. the rapidly changing world of science and technology
  6. the importance of these issues in the local and global consciousness and behavior of African Americans and others of African descent.

Students explore these issues using the interdisciplinary approach, comparative methodology, and computer literacy to acquire the critical thinking skills and knowledge for leadership, involvement in community development, preparation for graduate school, and to meet the personal and professional challenges of the 21st century.

Students minoring in African American Studies and mastering the subject matter acquire empowering knowledge and self-awareness with respect to race and ethnicity. They are equipped intellectually to become better citizens in their towns, cities, nations, and global communities based on their understanding and problem-solving abilities when faced with the damaging and debilitating manifestations of bigotry, segregation, and other discordant "isms." Those seeking employment as teachers, ministers, engineers, scientists, musicians, athletes, aviators, scholars, public servants, social workers, filmmakers, and military personnel will find the African American Studies Program an excellent complement to their major course of study.

To earn a minor in African American Studies, students are required to complete three core courses. With the permission of the director of the African American Studies Program and the chair of the relevant department, the student can substitute an independent study course for Topics in African American Studies. If the option is selected, the student is strongly encouraged to do an independent study course in some aspect of local, regional, state, national, or global history impacting on the past or present lives of African Americans or their endeavors to envision new societal changes or improvements.

The final three courses for completion of the minor can be selected from the vast variety of General Courses that are listed below, provided that at least six (6) hours are at the upper-division (3300-4300) level. The student is urged, however, to select at least one course that will combine both the major and minor fields of study to address a pertinent and pressing praxis problem in the history of African Americans or those of African descent; their interactions with other groups (Asians, Native Americans, Hispanics, or Anglos); or a national or global aspect of contemporary "race" relations issues. The student can also earn three (3) credits by designing a practicum course that permits him or her to do field work in the community, nation, or a foreign country using cognitive skills, comparative methodologies, or theoretical perspectives acquired while minoring in African American Studies.

Program Director

Michael Vinson Williams

Contact Information:; 915-747-7822
Education: BA, University of Mississippi; MA, University of Mississippi; Ph D, The University of Mississippi.


Michael Vinson Williams
Contact Information:; 915-747-7822
Education: BA, University of Mississippi; MA, University of Mississippi; Ph D, The University of Mississippi.

Associate Professors

Erika Denise Edwards 
Contact Information:; 915-747-8039
Education: Ph D, Florida International University

Professor of Instruction

Selfa A. Chew-Meléndez

Contact Information:; 915-747-7060
Education: BA, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; MFA, University of Texas at El Paso; Ph D, University of Texas at El Paso.

Assistant Professor

Tawanda Chabikwa
Contact Information:; 915-747-6314 
Education: BA, University of Texas at El Paso; MA, University of California, San Diego 

The University of Texas at El Paso
African American Studies Program
Liberal Arts, Room 401
500 W University
El Paso, Texas 79902

Phone: 915.747.8650

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