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Want to educate yourself about Black history and culture? Take these IU classes.



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Sunshine illuminates the Sample Gates on the IU-Bloomington campus. Galen Clavio, director of undergraduate studies at the Media School, said the school is interested in adding more courses surrounding diversity. Alex Deryn

IU has a variety of classes available for students to learn about the history and culture of the Black community.

Many of these classes are within the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, but courses regarding diversity can be found in several colleges at IU. IU requires students in the College of Arts and Sciences to complete a Diversity in the United States CASE credit. Many of the courses below will satisfy this credit.

Valerie Grim, AAADS director of undergraduate studies, said her department brings a different focus to race than other departments at IU. 

“Faculty in the department of African American African Diaspora Studies ground their classes in the experiences and expressions of Black culture and Black life with Black people as their own subjects,” Grim said. “Rather than teaching about Black people from somebody else's gaze.”

Grim said she thinks it’s important for students to have a historical understanding and recommended students take history classes, such as AAAD-A 355 African-American History I and AAAD-A 356 African-American History II. She also said it is important for students to know how Black people express themselves through visual culture like music, literature, dance and performing arts. 

Students will have a better understanding of global events if they educate themselves and take classes about diversity and race, Grim said. She also said it is important that students do not just collect facts but allow themselves to be motivated and want to make a change.

“These marches and these protests have a history,” Grim said. “They relate to how people who have felt oppressed have stood up against dominance and oppression.”

Shruti Rana, assistant dean for curricular and undergraduate affairs at the Hamilton Lugar School for Global and International Studies, said HLS added two new courses, SGIS-S152: Black Lives Matter as a Global Movement and INTL-I300: Topics in International Studies (Black Internationalism), that are meant to amplify Black voices. Rana said what makes classes different at HLS is the global perspective their classes prioritize.

She said while it is important for students to develop specific skills for their career, it is also very rewarding to learn about deeper and broader topics students will remember for the rest of their lives.

“What's most important and what you remember, years down the line after your college degree, are the courses that opened your eyes to new things, that give you new ways of looking at the world,” Rana said.

Courses regarding diversity can be found in each college. Galen Clavio, director of undergraduate studies at the Media School, said many courses within the school speak about race in its courses, but race and diversity may not always be included in the name.

The Media School also offers minors in Black Cinema and Media Studies and Media and Diversity. There is also a specialization in Black Cinema Studies: Aesthetics, History and Image.

“It is important I think for any student of Indiana University and certainly media students to get a perspective outside of their own perspective and to understand that there are multiple viewpoints and multiple stories to tell,” Clavio said. “There are multiple aspects of history besides the core narrative that many students have been taught coming into college.”

Clavio said the Media School is always interested in adding more courses surrounding diversity and that it is an ongoing process to evaluate the curriculum.

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