Africana Studies examines the diverse experiences of African people worldwide, focusing especially but not exclusively on African, African American and Caribbean affairs and culture. Using the tools of the social sciences and humanities, we investigate the structures, organizations, problems and perspectives of blacks in Africa and the African Diaspora. Our mission is to advance the study and understanding of the historical as well as the contemporary connections among Africana communities.

As a discipline, Africana Studies acquaints students with myriad ways of thinking (historical, sociological, anthropological, geographical, political, psychoanalytic and literary), researching (ethnographic, quantitative, and qualitative methods), and writing about Africana people. Issues of particular interest to Africana Studies scholars include: African agency, Diasporic identities, colonialism, the Atlantic slave trade and New World slavery, decolonization, independence, nationalism, post-colonialism and migration).

Courses appropriate for prospective majors

AFST 100, Introduction to Africana Studies

For course descriptions and requirements for the major, refer to the Academic Bulletin: Africana Studies.

Courses that fulfill distribution requirements

Social Sciences (Division II):
AFST 100, Introduction to Africana Studies

Comparative Civilizations:
AFST 100, Introduction to Africana Studies

Suggested curricular flow through the major

First Year
AFST 100
AFST 200

Sophomore Year
Three courses to fulfill the Africa/African Diaspora requirement
 Africana Studies Elective

Junior Year
One course to fulfill Africa/Africana Diaspora requirement
Two Africana Studies courses at the 300-level
Experiential Learning

Senior Year
Africana Studies
AFST 400

Senior Thesis

During the spring of their senior year, Africana Studies majors are required to complete a thesis or project that is based on an original research topic that resonates with their concentration in African or Diasporan studies. The thesis/project must clearly demonstrate that the student understands the concept of African agency, can apply theories and methods of the discipline, and articulate the historical trajectory of the particular topic being examined.


To be eligible for consideration for honors, an Africana Studies major must have a minimum 3.5 grade point average in the major by the end of the fall semester of junior year and must maintain this GPA through the spring semester. The student normally must not have any breach of the College’s academic code of conduct. Candidates for honors must find a departmental advisor in their area of interest willing to supervise their project during the fall semester of the senior year.

Independent Study (AFST 500)
During the fall of the senior year, the candidate will take an independent study with the advisor. The candidate will develop and submit a prospectus during the 10th week of the fall semester. A prospectus is a detailed research proposal that includes an annotated bibliography of both primary and secondary sources. A candidate must receive formal approval of her or his prospectus from the Africana Studies Department in order to proceed.

Africana Studies 400
During the spring semester, the candidate will enroll in Africana Studies 400.

Applying for Honors
The department chair, in consultation with the candidate and advisor, will recommend a secondary reader. The primary advisor will assign one grade at the end of the spring term for work in both semesters. Honors candidates will present their work in a public forum as part of Africana Studies 400. The department faculty will read the final thesis and engage each candidate in an oral defense before rendering a decision on honors.

An honors thesis should be approximately 50 pages in length and should demonstrate advanced research and writing skills; extensive use of primary and secondary sources; and effective utilization of key theories and methods in Africana Studies.

Time Line for Honors

Beginning of spring semester of the junior year

Students are notified of eligibility.


By Roll Call of the spring semester of the junior year

Choose and consult with departmental advisor.


Submit a signed declaration of intent form.


During spring registration for the fall semester of the senior year

Enroll in AFST 500 (Independent Study)

Week 10 of fall semester

Submit prospectus for departmental review.

Week 12 of fall semester

Student will be notified of departmental approval to continue the honors project.

During fall registration for the spring semester of the senior year

Enroll in AFST 400 (Writing in Africana Studies).

Week 12 of the spring semester

Submit honors thesis to advisors.

Week 14 of the spring semester

Oral defense of honors thesis and notification of decision.

Independent study and independent research

The Africana Studies Department encourages advanced students in the major to undertake independent research and independent study projects. The student, in consultation with the supervising professor, will submit a topic proposal and program of work the semester before the study is undertaken.

Independent study allows a student to pursue an academic interest outside the listed course offerings. The study may include library research and reading and may culminate in several short papers, a single paper, or any other project acceptable to the supervising faculty member and the student.

Independent research, like independent study, allows a student to pursue an academic interest outside the listed course offerings, but it involves primary research which is largely self-initiated and self-directed. Students are encouraged to present the results of independent research at a professional conference, regional meeting, or other public forum.


Students may choose to pursue an internship that will meet the experiential learning requirement. To satisfy the academic requisite, students will apply specific aspects of the histories and theories of Africana Studies to the work experience. The internship must be approved and will be supervised by the Department Coordinator. Upon completion of the internship, the student will submit a final report.

Opportunities for off-campus study

In order to gain a deeper understanding of African and African diasporic communities, students are encouraged to study abroad. Typically, students have studied in Cameroon or Tanzania. For a full list of study abroad options, students should contact the Center for Global Study and Engagement.

Additional Remarks

Experiential Learning: The Experiential Learning component of the Africana Studies major complements classroom instruction by requiring students to engage directly with people of African descent through some form of cultural immersion in Africa or in the Diaspora. By doing so, students will come to understand and evaluate issues relevant to these communities more substantively. Examples of experiential learning opportunities that may be approved by the Department include: Study Abroad, Service Learning Courses, Mosaic Programs, Internships, Independent Research.