Mapping the Origin of African and African Diaspora Studies at KSU
An inside look at one student's research to discover the origins of our AADS program using records from the University Archives.
KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov 30, 2022) — This blog post was guest written by Archives Intern Kellee Wood, a KSU senior majoring in History.
The Question: When did Kennesaw State College establish an African and African Diaspora
Studies (AADS) program?
My research journey through the Kennesaw State University Archives began with that question. By using several different archival collections, I discovered a wealth of records that enriched my understanding of KSU’s history with African studies.
The Search Begins
The Minority Affairs Advisory Board collection provided evidence that international studies were on the agenda of Kennesaw State College faculty in the 1990s. A document titled “Minority Affairs Update, Fall, 1995” revealed that the Department of History and Philosophy first introduced African and African American Studies as a history minor in 1995. This find was a good lead, but when would AADS become a program independent of the Humanities and Social Science department?
Next, I looked into the Rosa Bobia collection. Dr. Rosa Bobia was the former Director of the Center for African and African Diaspora
Studies (CAADS) at KSU. This collection held materials relevant to Dr. Bobia’s French
classes and her research on James Baldwin. Unfortunately, I did not find much relevant
to the creation of AADS.
International Focus was the newsletter of the KSU Office of International Programs (now the Institute for Global Initiatives). Dr. Bobia appeared again in this collection. She wrote for the African resource group in the Spring 1996 issue (vol. 10, no. 2), and the Fall/Winter 1991-1992 issue (vol. 7, no. 1) described her participation in a Fulbright Seminar where she traveled to Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
Thomas H. Keene, IGI’s former director, explained the significance of Fulbright group project grants in his interview for KSU’s Oral History Project, “...what we needed to do is get our faculty abroad so they can bring the international experience back to campus.” By writing for the African Resource Group and studying in West Africa, Dr. Bobia was, perhaps, gaining the knowledge she would need to head the CAADS program.
I found the answer to my question through a combination of sources accessible through the KSU Archives Scholarly Online Access Repository (SOAR).
The KSU-SPSU Timeline, 1947-2016 explained that the Board of Regents approved a B. A. in African and African Diaspora Studies on April 21, 2004. That fact is corroborated in the KSU 2004-2005 Undergraduate Course Catalog, where, for the first time, the catalog lists the B. A. in AADS along with other undergraduate degree programs.
Both Faculty Handbook: 2005-2006 and Faculty Handbook: 2006-2007 identify AADS as a “Special Unit” within the IGI. The only difference is in the name. The 2005-2006 handbook describes the unit as the Program of African and African Diaspora Studies (PAADS), while the 2006-2007 handbook describes the unit as the Center for African and African Diaspora Studies (CAADS). Regardless of the program’s name, it supported the AADS major and the African and African-American Studies minor.
In Thomas H. Keene’s interview, he discussed the International Office changing its name to the Institute of Global Initiatives (IGI). Keene maintained that, within the University System of Georgia, names define the capabilities of an office, center, or institute. With that in mind, it’s not difficult to consider that the AADS program’s name change to include “center” was a bureaucratic decision rather than a stylistic choice. As of April 2006, AADS was housed within the IGI and the Department of History and Philosophy. In the years since, the name has changed again. Today, the Center for Africana Studies (CAS) coordinates AADS.