NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven now offers a new minor called Africana Studies.

Created by SCSU professors Siobhan Carter-David and Brandon Hutchinson, the curriculum is a remix of more traditional African Studies programs, as Carter-David puts it.

“So, we’ve had students in the last few years demand for courses that represented their reality, so because of those demands, the university was able to join us in this initiative,” Hutchinson said.

“It’s important because there are students here who want to learn about their own, the background and contributions of people of African descent to our nation and the world,” Carter-David said.

The coursework runs the gamut of the African American experience — everything from history, political science and health disparities to more contemporary issues like the influence of hip-hop culture on our modern culture.

“It is just the epitome of academic freedom, where you are studying things that folks sometimes are uncomfortable learning about, and you’re just having the ability to do that, using all of your skill sets as a student,” senior Abdul Osman said. 

The professors said this course is more important than ever, given the nation’s current political climate. For example, Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has pushed to block state colleges from offering programs that deal with diversity and inclusion. 

“We know that this kind of ideology can spread very quickly, and so what’s happening in Florida can be very dangerous and scary because if it can happen there, it might be a few years from happening nationwide,” Carter-David said.

For senior Ashley Simon, the coursework and professors made Africana Studies unlike anything she had ever experienced in her college career.

“Africana Studies was one of my favorite classes,” Simon said. “I feel like it was very important as a Back woman to learn this information from other Black women because I feel like typically we are left out of the conversation.”

“I think when you know who you are, it really impacts how you arrive, the kind of choices you make, the way you step into your own power, so I think the history is very important,” Hutchinson said.

Learn more about SCSU’s African Studies minor program here.