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On Your Time Initiatives

AFAM 200

Freedom Papers: Narratives of Race and Nation

Students in this course will explore the evolving definitions of freedom in the United States by analyzing the lives and writings of African Americans who have struggled to realize the country’s founding principles and core values. We will couple our study of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and the Emancipation Proclamation with a deeper interdisciplinary inquiry into how the principles and provisions of these documents affected the everyday lives of black citizens from the seventeenth century to the present. Central to this effort will be questions, readings, and assignments that help students to understand the societal values and norms that frame the call for self-governance, individual rights, and free expression. Students will be asked to identify and contextualize the consequences of these practices in the United States with particular attention to how black Americans have worked to make the ethical codes and moral theories more inclusive.


Learning Objectives/Outcomes

Upon completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Identify the source and function of values through an analysis of the content and form of the United States founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • Compare the values, norms, and ideals of freedom expressed in the U.S. founding documents and selected works by African Americans.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of values, ethics, and social responsibility for the self and for contemporary society as discussed and brought out in a range of interdisciplinary writings and cultural materials by African Americans.
  • Reflect on how values shape personal and community ethics and decision-making, both within the texts and in the societies they describe.
  • Relate course discussions of values, ethics and responsibilities to students’ own capacities to address ethical and social challenges.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.