The two-year interdisciplinary exploration of Africa! More than a Continent allowed faculty, students, and campus offices and organizations to use Africa’s past, present and future to explore broad questions in culture, the arts, healthcare, business, politics and policy, history, literature, education, the environment, science and technology, athletics, and society.
The theme had a two-pronged approach. The first year, 2015-2016, the theme focused on general awareness topics such as geography, politics, history, arts, food, culture, and health; then the second year, 2016-2017, had an embedded, deeper approach including performance exchanges and study abroad.
For 2016-2017, Western Carolina University partnered with Samaritan’s Feet, an international charity that supplies shoes for children in local communities as well as around the world. This partnership allowed for many grassroots involvement of students, staff, faculty, and the greater community.
This campus theme's mission was to aid in fulfilling WCU's goals of increased internationalization of its curricula and enhanced diversity of its faculty and staff as stated in the 2020 Strategic Plan, to highlight the histories and cultures of African countries and peoples, and to recognize the connection of Africans to people of African descent in the United States (and in WNC specifically) in order to celebrate the roots of African American culture, history, and experience.
We did this by exposing the WCU community to the diversity of the African continent and its many countries such as its races, geography, ethnicities, environments, cultures, religions, animals, governments, and natural resources. We studied the connection of European colonialism with the development and modern history of the colonized countries of Africa. The impact of neocolonialism through the late twentieth century until today both in Africa and throughout the world was explained. Students experienced the contributions of Africans to the fine arts all over the world: music, painting, sculpture, literature, film, and drama. They also were tasked to identify the significance of African histories and accomplishments in education, science, math, government, art, and architecture. We engaged with African oral culture in the form of folktales, proverbs, and storytelling. And connected WCU's community with African individuals, groups, and organizations including lectures, seminars, shows, and classroom-to-classroom projects.