AAAS minor expands curriculum

The African and African American Studies (AAAS) Minor was started at Rollins in 1986 as a way to merge the expertise of the anthropology and modern language departments, creating an interdisciplinary program where students could explore African and African-American cultures and their impact on the Western World. Since then, the AAAS program has expanded its curriculum to offer numerous courses over a variety of departments including History, Music, Religion, Media, and Sociology. This is a minor that strives hard to embody Rollins’ mission of being a global, culturally aware citizen—and it deserves to be celebrated.

Dr. Tonia Warnecke, a professor of the minor, is the Program Director of the Social Entrepreneurship Major and Minor underneath the Business Department. Her area of concentration is Economics with a focus on gender and international development. Dr. Warnecke became interested in African American studies after taking a trip to Budapest in her junior year of her undergrad as a political science major.

Getting to know more about other cultures sparked her interest in other developing nations, including many of the states in Africa.

Next semester, Warnecke will continue to offer SEB 220: Global Development Challenges, “which allows students to specialize in a developing country of their choice for various projects in the class. Students could focus on a country in Africa for the semester, and would learn about social, economic, and political outcomes in Africa compared to other world regions.”

Dr. Shan-Estelle Brown, an Anthropology professor, is new to our Rollins faculty. She is a medical anthropologist with a second interest in the teaching of writing in anthropology. Since her arrival, she has been overwhelmed with the friendliness of the students, staff, and faculty at Rollins.

Next semester, she will be teaching GBH 200: Introduction to Public Health, where students can learn about infectious and chronic diseases at the population level and public health responses in the United States to keep communities healthy. The course also touches on this topic in relation to the broader topic of environmental health. Dr. Brown will also be teaching a new course called ANT 305 Drugs, Sex, and HIV as well as an rFLA 100-level course involving social media.

Dr. Matthew Nichter, a professor in the Sociology Department, also teaches in the minor. He believes that “Sociology helps us understand the causes of racial inequality” and looks forward to teaching a course on the Civil Rights Movement in the spring.

Our last spotlight in the minor is Professor Victoria Brown, who is another new addition to our Rollins Faculty. Professor Brown is from the Caribbean and a creative writer currently teaching ENG 140: Writing About the Caribbean, ENG 200: Creative Non-Fiction, and ENG 300: Creative Fiction. She is looking forward to teaching a Trans-Lit course about Caribbean Fiction next semester as well as ENG 167 and ENG 300: Creative Non-Fiction.

Professor Brown has also written a book called Minding Ben. It tells the story of a Caribbean immigrant who moves to Crown Heights in New York and explores the relationship she shares with people in her West Indian community. Minding Ben also explores the development of one’s ethnic culture at home and overseas.

One of the things that Rollins really emphasizes to all its students is the ability to find where you belong while exploring your academic and career choices. Students still seeking a place on campus should consider an African and African American Studies Minor.

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