About AAST

Mission Statement

The African and African American Studies Program (AAST) at the University of Arkansas is an interdisciplinary program that expands on the core disciplines of a traditional liberal arts education. We explore the legacy of the African diaspora and African descended people’s global experiences.

We strive to advance social consciousness, promote equity, and support the highest level of academic excellence through critical and global thinking in the classroom and beyond. Through the study of the histories, cultures, and contemporary experiences of the African diaspora, we examine the important role that race has played in the creation of the world in which our students live.


A Message from the Director

Dr. Najja Baptist

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,
With immense pleasure and enthusiasm, I write today as the newly appointed Director of the African and African American Studies Program at the University of Arkansas. I am deeply honored to join this esteemed institution and to have the opportunity to lead the Program in its pursuit of academic excellence, cultural understanding, and social progress.
As Director, I am committed to fostering an inclusive and dynamic environment where Africans’ and African Americans’ rich history, culture, and contributions are celebrated and rigorously examined and understood within their broader historical and contemporary contexts. Our Program is vital in advancing interdisciplinary scholarship, promoting social justice, and engaging with the broader community.
I am excited to work collaboratively with the faculty, staff, and students to build upon the Program’s strengths, expand our academic offerings, and strengthen our connections with local and national organizations. Together, we will strive to create an environment that encourages critical thinking, empathy, and a deep appreciation for the diversity of human experiences.
I am eager to meet each of you and embark on this journey of discovery and growth together. Please know that my door is always open. I am eager to hear your ideas, concerns, and aspirations for the future of African and African American Studies at the University of Arkansas.
I am truly honored to be a part of this vibrant community, and I look forward to the exciting and meaningful work ahead.
With warm regards,
Dr. Najja K. Baptist
Director, African and African American Studies Program (AAST)


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