Statement on African Cultural Studies 405

December 19, 2016

Questions have been raised about a spring semester course offering, African Cultural Studies 405, “The Problem of Whiteness.”

The course title refers to the challenge of understanding white identity and non-white identity across the globe.

We believe this course, which is one of thousands offered at our university, will benefit students who are interested in developing a deeper understanding of race issues. The course is a challenge and response to racism of all kinds.

All of the students participating do so voluntarily; the course is not required.

Among the well-respected texts to be considered this semester are W.E.B. Du Bois’ “The Souls of White Folks” and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me.”

The university offers a wide range of courses and studies across all races, with similar explorations of Asian, Hispanic, European and African-American cultures.

Specific classes are designed and approved at the departmental level and overseen by the faculty University Curriculum Committee. There is a long academic tradition at UW–Madison and in higher education for allowing individual faculty freedom to design courses reflecting topics that they and their department consider important.

All UW–Madison students are welcome in courses like this, which is not designed to offend individuals or single out an ethnic group.