Bowie State to Offer 1st Minor in Hip-Hop Studies

The oldest HBCU in Maryland plans to canonize the culture created by young African Americans.

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Bowie State University will offer a new academic minor program in hip-hop studies and visual culture in the fall 2016 semester, according to BSYou, a weekly newsletter from the school.

The program’s curriculum will draw on the arts, technology, media, history and literature to expand opportunities for critical discussion, collaborative research and creative projects. Students will engage with hip-hop scholars, artists and pioneers through guest lectures, hands-on workshops and field trips, notes the newsletter.

“We are trying to encourage critical research. Hip-hop is not just music; it’s a culture,” said associate professor Tewodross Melchishua, coordinator of Bowie State’s visual communication and digital media arts, or VCDMA, program. Melchishua is a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, founded by hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa and an award-winning filmmaker. Since 2008 he has taught hip-hop visual culture at Bowie State, the university’s only hip-hop-based course.

There are new courses currently being developed by Bowie State faculty: a course on hip-hop’s roots in African and African-American culture and its societal impact; a hip-hop studio course focused on visual-arts design; and a course exploring black contemporary music and its impact on society. Helen Hayes Award-nominated playwright, director and actor Greg Morrison will also teach a hip-hop theater course he developed to introduce students a unique form of musical theater.

“By understanding hip-hop and the possibilities of incorporating it into education for the youth inside and outside the classroom, the potential to create positive change is boundless,” said Amber Matthews, a senior majoring in VCDMA.

Melchishua says that a student in any discipline could benefit from studying hip-hop culture.

“Hip-hop studies can complement any existing area of study from education to marketing to technology or cultural studies,” he said. “Hip-hop is universal—it brings together a lot of diverse people from around the world.”

Read more at BSYou.

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