Four years ago, the then Department of African Languages & Literature convened a lively retrospective assessment of the first half-century of African languages and literature instruction at UW Madison, and in part, explored new directions and best practices for language and culture instruction going forward. A lot of conscientious hard work by faculty, staff, and students has been going on since then. We are today settled in a new path that is already yielding gains under challenging conditions—a new department name and orientation—African Cultural Studies, an expansive new curriculum, and a notable increase in overall enrollments. We are well-positioned to weather the challenges of the next half-century. Our event celebrates this institutional transformation. But institutions are made possible and workable only by dedicated and hard-working people. This is why the template, the organizing principle, for the celebration of our institutional transition is also the celebration of the professional transitions of our key faculty—the retirements of long-time faculty members, Professors Aliko Songolo and Dustin Cowell, and two others who joined us in admirable support during the critical changes, Professors Jo Ellen Fair and Michael Schatzberg. The day-long event includes panels, tributes, and a festival of African languages.
African Studies Program, Department of French and Italian, Institute for Regional and International Studies, Language Institute