An African Studies program helps the college to focus on a part of the world that is often neglected or marginalized in college and university curricula in the USA. Having an African Studies program would put us in a favorable position vis-à-vis other liberal arts colleges that compete with us for the same profile of students. Having an African Studies program sends a message about the mission of the college, and it would also enhance the college’s ability to attract minority students who for heritage reasons have a special interest in Africa and African peoples. Moreover, an African Studies program in our curriculum would offer our students another viable choice to widen their horizons in their knowledge of foreign cultures and international affairs.
It is worthy of note that at least thirteen percent of the population of the United States is of African descent. That represents millions of Americans who can claim some African heritage. This alone is a good reason for any institution of higher learning to give its students an opportunity to maximize their knowledge of that continent. Moreover, the demographics of our own state of Minnesota have changed dramatically over the past decade. We see more immigrants of African origin in our communities, mainly from countries such as Liberia, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria. One impact of this trend on Gustavus is that over the years, we have seen an increase in the admission of children from the families of these African immigrant communities in Minnesota. Moreover, the presence of the Somalian, Sudanese, and Ethiopian communities in Saint Peter and Mankato provides potential internship possibilities for our students in the African Studies program.