Kristie Dotson Appointed Interim Chair of AAAS Program

Professor Kristie Dotson has been appointed Interim Chair of the African American and African Studies (AAAS) program, effective July 1, 2019.  

Since 2008, Dotson has served as a member of the Department of Philosophy faculty at Michigan State University. She led the AAAS Vision Process, which brought interested faculty together to imagine and construct a new Department of African American and African Studies. On February 15, the MSU Board of Trustees approved the establishment of a AAAS Department, which will be part of the College of Arts & Letters.

“I look forward to serving as interim chair while AAAS transitions to a department,” Dotson said. “It is exciting to work towards the production of a new unit.”

The new department will support the work of students, faculty, and staff associated with the existing AAAS program and will help re-establish MSU’s position as a national leader in African American and African Studies.

The establishment of a Department of African American and African Studies has long been the goal of the unit since its founding, and Professor Dotson has done an outstanding job in leading the AAAS Vision Process.

Dean cristopher p. long

A major goal of the new department is to establish an undergraduate major within the next five years. The AAAS undergraduate minor, which recently was revised to streamline courses and allow more course options for minors in the College of Arts & Letters and the College of Social Science, will continue to be offered with no changes anticipated. Also, no changes are anticipated to the AAAS offerings of the graduate program, but the new department will help re-establish the AAAS Ph.D. program as a national and international leader in the field.

“The establishment of a Department of African American and African Studies has long been the goal of the unit since its founding, and Professor Dotson has done an outstanding job in leading the AAAS Vision Process,” said Christopher P. Long, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters. “I look forward to working with Dr. Dotson in her role as interim chair of the African American and African Studies program and as we transition to a new department.”

Dotson served as the responsible administrator for the African American and African Studies program during the Fall 2015 semester, at a time when the program was transitioning to a new director, Glenn Chambers, who began as AAAS director on January 1, 2016. 

woman who is wearing black glasses who is looking at the camera
Dr. Krisitie Dotson


Dotson was selected as the 2019 Donald J. Cowling Distinguished Visiting Professor at Carleton College, which she completed this past spring. She also was a visiting professor at the University of Auckland during the summer of 2018 and was a Presidential Visiting Associate Professor at Yale University during spring 2018.

Dotson received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Memphis. She also received an M.A. in Literature from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a B.A. in African American Studies and English Literature from Coe College. Her research focuses on epistemology, feminist philosophy (particularly Black feminism and feminist epistemology), and critical philosophy of race. 

The current AAAS program at MSU was founded in 2002. The new department will be true to the founding interdisciplinary vision of that program by establishing departmental bylaws, policies, practices, and a curriculum that require faculty and students to draw on disciplinary expertise in doing transdisciplinary work.

MSU’s AAAS program has been in a restructuring phase since the 2015-2016 academic year, and in a unanimous vote at a faculty retreat on May 23, 2017, AAAS core faculty members confirmed its support to move forward with a department.