Massasoit Community College Launches New Black Studies Major

In a pioneering move, Massasoit Community College, located in Massachusetts, has become the first two-year school in the state to offer a degree program in Black Studies. This initiative aims to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the Black experience through courses such as “Sociology of Race and Ethnicity” and “Contemporary Issues in the Black Community.”

The Decade-Long Journey

The roots of this groundbreaking program trace back a decade when student feedback highlighted the need for a more culturally diverse curriculum. “In 2020, as interest grew and Black student enrollment increased, Sauvignon crafted a Black Studies curriculum and submitted it to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. The program got approval last spring.”

Dr. Sauvignon emphasizes that the program goes beyond catering solely to Black students. It serves as a platform for students from all backgrounds to gain insights into the Black experience, fostering understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures. “It’s a good place in time right now, where critical race theory is being embraced, where understanding and appreciating cultures is being embraced, with racial equity and DEI initiatives being embraced.”

Shaping Future Perspectives

Renowned sociologist Dr. Elijah Anderson stresses the importance of understanding Black Studies as a reflection of American history. This innovative program is designed not only to empower Black students but also to enlighten students of all backgrounds about different cultural experiences. Dr. Shawn Utsey, professor of psychology, emphasizes how exposure to the Black narrative can reduce biases, particularly among those in law enforcement. “If we can expose them to let them know that Black folks are just different sometimes – there’s not anything to be afraid of – people would perhaps be less alarmed in the presence of Black people, and we will reduce the many, many mishaps that occur.”

Beyond Academia

The interdisciplinary approach of Massasoit’s Black Studies courses ensures that the knowledge gained isn’t confined to a singular academic pursuit. Credits from these courses count toward liberal arts and humanities elective requirements across various degrees and facilitate smooth credit transfers to four-year colleges. “The goal is to provide the foundation for Black students to understand who they are, where they come from, and where they can go. For non-Black students, it’s an opportunity to learn about different cultural experiences that would enhance their academic learning.”

Current Status and Future Goals

Though the program is in its early stages with three declared majors, leaders at Massasoit express optimism about its growth. They aim to increase visibility and enrollment through presentations and community collaborations, with hopes of expanding the program to include Women’s Studies and Latino Studies in the future. “Next fall, we’re obviously a lot more optimistic that we’ll see people actually going into the major.”

As Massasoit pioneers Black Studies in the community college landscape, it sets a precedent for embracing diverse perspectives and fostering a deeper understanding of cultural experiences.

#BlackStudies #Diversity #Education #InnovationInCurriculum #MassasoitCollege #HigherEducation

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