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KU announces launch of Francophone Studies Program

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Department of French & Italian has announced the launch of a Francophone Studies Program that will support further interdisciplinary studies of French language and culture.

“Francophone studies is a critically important and diverse field, and we are deeply committed to providing students at KU with a greater understanding of the French-speaking world beyond France,” said Bruce Hayes, chair of the French & Italian department. “With our recent hire of a specialist in Francophone and transnational studies and our partnering with AAAS and other departments to create a certificate in Francophone studies, we are working to raise awareness and provide greater opportunities for our students.”

The program is a partnership with the departments of African and African-American Studies (AAAS), Anthropology, Art History, History and Theatre. Studies will enable students to get insights into the societies, cultures, histories, languages and literatures of Francophone areas such as Canada, Louisiana, the Antilles, the Maghreb, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

AAAS serves as a prime example for interdisciplinary programming with the Department of French & Italian. The Institute of Haitian Studies is the only unit of its kind in Kansas and in the Great Plains region. 

Teaching of and research on the French-speaking world has been a staple at KU since the 1980s, including the approval of Haitian Studies in 1992. The French & Italian department has since offered a number of courses with focus on Francophone studies, and AAAS continues to promote Haitian studies through the teaching of Haitian Creole, access to materials in Creole on Haitian Studies via KU ScholarWorks, a collection of Haitian art in the Spencer Museum of Art and coordinating public programming about Haiti. The newly emergent, interdisciplinary Francophone Studies Program at KU will build on this experience and extend the scope of the unit to include a broader view of the global French-speaking community.

Photo: Students take a class in the Department of French & Italian in this 2011 image. Photo courtesy KU Marketing Communications

Migration Stories: Africans in Midwestern Communities

The Kansas African Studies Center has received $140,000 in funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to launch public discussions, community programming, and the creation of educational resources in local communities to discuss the challenges and opportunities surrounding recent demographic changes in the region. With close to 10,000 African immigrants living today in the heartland metropolitan centers of Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, Emporia, Wichita and Garden City, a new project entitled “Migration Stories” will facilitate the sharing of migration stories about Africans within Midwestern communities. Visit to learn more. 

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