General Education Information


General Education Course Review

 AAS 100:  Introduction to African American Studies


General Education Goal Course Goal

Part One:

Intellectual Abilities and Dispositions




A.  Conceptual and Practical Understanding of Modes of Learning, Problem-Solving and Creative Inquiry




B.  Information-Gathering, Reasoning, and Synthesizing Abilities


1.  Skill in formulating questions and in setting goals for inquiry.

Use of original and secondary sources on the African American historic experience provide the basis for developing inquiries and an open mind with regard to facts and myths.

2.  Knowing how and when to make generalizations and value judgments.

 Hypothesizing answers to questions about current Affirmative Action policies allows students to discern the viewpoints involved in this charged issue.

3.  Skill in generating and evaluating observations and evidence.

 Use of multi-media records of the civil rights movement as well as current news coverage provide basis for evaluation of history writing and commentary.

4.  Skill in making deductive inferences.

Research into aspects of African American history draws students into the deductive process.  Class discussions sharpen deductive skills and a sense of logical argumentation.

5.  Ability to use relevant quantitative methods.




C.  Reflective, Creative, and Critical Dispositions


1.  Striving to be well informed and open-minded.

Encouragement of students to question received histories in order to discover the intellectual ethical virtue of an open mind.


Students will be asked to trace historical processes from the past to the present and analyze them comparatively in respect to heir contexts.

2.  Looking for multiple possibilities and being able to deal with ambiguity.

 Examination of the role of slavery, “Jim Crow” laws, and forces within the civil rights movement provide multiple perspectives and a sense of the ambiguity of some situations.

3.  Striving to achieve one’s best with persistence and imagination.


4.  Willingness to make choices and to evaluate those choices.

 Supreme Court cases and various forms of civil legislation will be presented along with the rationale for them.  Students will be encouraged to evaluate the character of the reasoning behind these aspects of the law, take positions themselves and defend them.


5.  Intellectual self-awareness:  being conscious of one’s own thinking process, including the cultural and social contexts of that thinking.

Students are asked to examine the political process and how aware they are of voting rights, running for political office, how legislation is passed, the initiative process, and how lobbying groups operate.  At every point they are asked to envision their own place within the social context and what position they would take on major issues.



D.  Communication Skills


1.  Writing and speaking with clarity and precision for diverse audiences.

 Research projects utilizing primary and secondary sources are required.  Group presentations, readers’ theater, or other forms of public address on major issues are also required of every student.

2.  Making use of computers and other technological tools


3.  Interpreting and communicating visual information

In the artistic and aesthetic unit, students are required to discuss, interpret, and analyze African American music, art, and literature.



Part Two:

Knowledge and Understanding




A.  Understanding the Natural World


1.  Knowledge of the physical Universe, including its origin and the physical laws governing it.





2.  Knowledge of living systems, including their nature, organization, and evolution.



3.  Understanding the history and methods of scientific inquiry and alternative explanations of the natural world.


4.  Understanding the multiple influences on scientific inquiry and the consequences of science and technology.


5.  Understanding the ways human choices affect the earth and living systems and the responsibilities of individual citizens and communities to preserve global resources.

American slavery and the consequences of the plantation system on the land and the human community are explored.


The impact of the migration of a large segment of the black population to the industrial urban centers of the northern states is examined.



B.  Understanding of Culture and Society


1.  Knowledge of the many expressions of culture, including

  • Understanding the unique shared ways of thinking, believing, and acting, developed by a people who live together over a long period of time.
  • Ability to conceptualize and trace the influences of community, institutions, and other constructions such as class, gender, and race
  • Familiarity with the ways in which culture is expressed artistically, through literature, performance, and artifact
  • Awareness of and appreciation for the ways in which culture and society influence and are influenced by work and leisure.


The historic features of the African American experience are framed as a coherent unity set within the events of American history.


Race and gender are explored as an essential component in the development of the U.S.  This includes examination of the slave culture, the abolitionist movement, emancipation process, and the civil rights movement.


The contributions of African American art, music, and literature are presented as major components in modern culture.  This will include selections from classical as well as “hip hop” music, dance, and theater.


The contributions of African Americans to sports and popular culture (television and the theater) are presented and analyzed.

2.  Understanding the sources and expression of diverse values throughout the world, including ethical, religious, aesthetic, political, and economic values as well as social and cultural priorities.

 An examination of the African American religious experience, including the traditional Black church in America as well as the Black Muslims and other groups, provide an important backdrop to African American culture, political and social activism, and ethical positions.


Evaluation of the current Affirmative Action policies in America allows students the opportunity to examine a major public policy issue affecting economic opportunity and equal access.

3.  Ability to trace the impact of technology on societies and cultures for diverse audiences.


4.  Understanding the ways human choices affect communities, from local to global, and responsibilities of individuals to assume the duties of citizenship.

The historic and economic choices that resulted in the enslavement of thousands of Africans continue to have human and political consequences in the American and African communities.  This aspect of human history is examined within its original context and then analyzed in terms of current influences on political decisions, racial relations and the role of individuals in a pluralistic society.


5.  Understanding the role of government regulation and of legal requirements, political processes, and financial and economic influences on decisions of individuals and society.

Supreme Court decisions, the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, and the Civil Rights Law of 1964 are among the items presented and discussed.  The political process and the role of the black community in that process are explored.



C.  Self-Understanding


1.  Understanding the nature of our humanness and how human beings are like and different from the other beings with whom they share the planet.

The issues of race that have led to discrimination, oppression, and enslavement are examined.  The current racial attitude is discussed and future trends are explored.

2.  Knowledge of individual physical, emotional, intellectual, social and creative development as well as ability to use such knowledge to improve personal well-being.


3.  Knowledge of individual physical, emotional, intellectual, social, historical, spatial, and cultural matrices into which the individual is born; and the influence of the unique set of experiences which the individual encounters.

The social matrix of a multi-racial society is examined in terms of the ability of minority groups to obtain a voice in government and to maintain its rights to equal access in business, education, and the professions.  Myths of culture and race are also explored.

4.  Ability to perceive one’s own being not only from cognitive perspectives but also from those perspectives which come from exposure to and creative vision of the arts – to imagine the possibilities the future holds and to develop responsible goals for interactions with others, modes of personal expression, and roles in improving the world.

 The artistic and aesthetic contributions of African American are presented and students are encouraged to explore them by attending concerts, plays, poetry readings, and art shows.