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The DAAS Difference

Tiffany Harris

Afroamerican and African Studies & Political Science Major 

"As a result of going to a PWI for most of my life, I learned about African-American history as something that affected us only in the past and that we are now a post-racial society. After coming to Michigan and taking classes here, I realized that we have so much work to do. African-American people are still marginalized in every way in terms of their education, housing, jobs, and in their everyday lives, and African-Americans are essentially in a new Jim Crow system because of mass incarceration. Being an African-American studies major made me realize how much I need to become a civil rights lawyer. Our world and especially our country needs more civil rights lawyers in order to fix our broken system. So many people are uneducated simply because they have not taken one African-American studies class, and I believe it should be required for every student growing up in this society. I’ve become more racially aware, but for good reason, because I was disillusioned as well because our racial problems might not always be visible to our society. It must be taught and understood."  

Emmanuel Saint-Phard

Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience & DAAS Minor

"I am currently studying Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience (BCN). On the surface, this major appears to have no overlap with DAAS, however many connections can be made between the two degrees. I decided to pursue a minor with DAAS after taking the introductory course for a distribution credit for my major, however quickly fell in love with the topic. It has been amazing to be able to learn about BLACK history, a history that is personally relevant to me, a product of the African Diaspora. This coursework challenged my thinking on things and made me ask new questions about the current condition of Black individuals. This led to the creation of my senior thesis through the psychology department researching current and future outcomes for Black students at predominantly white institutions. This thesis is the culmination of a cross-collaboration between my major, BCN, and minor with DAAS. I believe that if I did not pursue this minor with DAAS, my current trajectory of pursuing an MPH and eventually a PhD in health and educational disparities would be completely different!"

Thomas Vance

Afroamerican and African Studies & Political Science Major

"As a Political Science and African American Studies double major, I can pursue my two favorite subjects simultaneously. One of the more under-appreciated components of my major is the ability to apply concepts and ideas across disciplines. For example, I am taking an African American Studies course about urban ethnography, and we have spent most of our time discussing epistemology and knowledge production. Scholars like St. Clair Drake discuss the importance of thinking about how the problematic histories of institutions in which we produce knowledge can influence research. This and other lessons have helped me conceptualize how I should think about data collection and political science research as I prepare my honors thesis. Without access to various fields within my major, I would not be able to appreciate the importance of interdisciplinary thought.

In addition, the Department of African and Afro-American Studies is a place I truly feel at home. In upper-level political science classes, I am one of few Black students. DAAS courses allow me to disregard my minority status and focus instead on the community that surrounds me. Both cross-listed and non-cross-listed courses provide diverse, enriching classmates from a multitude of backgrounds. DAAS courses give me an opportunity to bolster my knowledge about the intersection of race and politics, the environment, ethnographic studies, and art history, among other subjects. Under the guidance of Black faculty or in conversation with Black peers, DAAS courses provide a sense of comfort second to none.

While my double major pushes me to adopt an interdisciplinary lens, my DAAS major provides a support system and critical conversations that only enhance my Michigan experience."