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 Renewing our CIVIL SOCIETY

African, African American and Diaspora Studies Center

NOW A PART OF THE COLLEGE OF ARTS AND LETTERS, the AAAD Studies Center has grown from an academic minor that began at JMU in 1981. In the past four decades, faculty members and students engaged in these studies have stretched AAAD to encompass much more. This now includes signature programs, graduate certificate programs, archival collections, student and faculty research—locally, in many parts of the U.S.A. and internationally—and pedagogical resources for innovations in teaching and curricula.


With the AAAD Studies Center established at JMU in 2020, students and professors come together from academic disciplines all over campus. Both in and out of the classroom, they learn from and contribute to the local community, participate in regional and nationwide collaborations, and share opportunities and scholarship through the center’s global partnerships across the continent of Africa as well as throughout the African Diaspora, where those of us descended from African peoples live worldwide.

Interdisciplinary Courses • Community Service-Learning • Study Abroad • International Faculty Exchanges • Collaborative Research


Black Studies programs everywhere typically make do with limited resources. Their impact far exceeds what you might imagine from such small staffs and modest budgets, which are supported primarily by enthusiasm and volunteer labor. At this university, we are facing the same challenges.

But when you make a gift to support the AAAD Studies Center, you make JMU a notable exception. You declare, This is important. You ensure that all students have the opportunity to engage with this critical discipline for responding to the most pressing issues of today’s world. At the same time, you help attract diverse students throughout the university and raise our reputation and resources for inclusion. You take a stand for equity, sustainability and innovation.

Student Scholarships, Internships, Research and Graduate Assistantships, and Conferences

Your support expands opportunitites for students to learn in the “real world” and to attend or present their work in prestigious academic settings. From the Shenandoah Black Heritage Project to the Smithsonian’s national musuems and the International Model African Union—and more—the AAAD Studies Center is establishing partnerships all over the globe. With your investment, local collaborations will strengthen JMU’s ties to nearby communities of color, while transnational projects will deepen the university’s engagement abroad and foster global citizenship among JMU students.

Faculty Fellowships, Conferences, Institutes, Workshops and Global Co-teaching

Supporting AAAD faculty success means professors will have more opportunities to develop curricula and workshop their projects together. Presentations at the AAAD annual academic converence at JMU and the Utu Conference (co-produced by JMU and the University of Nairobi) can continue to elevate our scholars as leaders in the field. Professors will also initiate new international teaching exchanges, global co-teaching projects, and study-abroad opportunities. All of this leads to faster diversification of the curricula and faculty leadership development.


Be a part of a vanguard of visionary donors who embody an activist spirit of giving. You will help amplify and celebrate learning about the multitude of histories, traditions, accomplishments, leaders and ideas that originate from the continent of Africa and the African Diaspora. Help students leverage this knowledge for the advancement of humanity worldwide: Invest in the AAAD Studies Center. Ultimately, you will be influencing what students can learn and experience—helping to train them as global citizens—and you will elevate JMU as a champion for diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education.

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