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Africana Studies Curriculum


11 courses and an Experiential Learning Component

AFST 100: Introduction to Africana Studies
AFST 200: Approaches to Africana Studies

Four Africana Studies approved courses, two in Africa and two in the Diaspora

Three courses in an area of concentration (e.g., with focus on Africa or the Diaspora)

AFST 400: Writing in Africana Studies

One elective, which focuses on topics relevant to Africana Studies, including courses which study race, diaspora, Latin America, colonialism, post-colonialism, etc.

Experiential Learning Component requires students to engage with the actual experiences of people of African descent, in Africa or in the Diaspora, whereby students understand and evaluate issues relevant to these communities through some form of cultural immersion, approved by the department. Examples include: Study Abroad, Service Learning Course, Mosaic Program, Internship, Independent Research.


Six (6) courses

Two (2) Required Courses
AFST 100: Introduction to Africana Studies
AFST 200: Approaches to Africana Studies

Four (4) Elective Courses
One (1) course focusing on Africa
One (1) course focusing on the African Diaspora
Two (2) 300-level Africana studies courses (Africa or Diaspora)

Suggested curricular flow through the major

First Year
AFST 100
AFST 200

Sophomore Year
Three courses to fulfill the 220/300 Africa/African Diaspora course requirement
 Africana Studies Elective

Junior Year
One course to fulfill 220/300 Africa/Africana Diaspora course requirement
Two 300-level Africana Studies courses in an area of concentration (Africa or Diaspora)

Experiential Learning requirement

Senior Year
One 300-level Africana Studies course in an area of concentration (Africa or Diaspora)

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.

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.


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 their 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.


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.


100 Introduction to Africana Studies
This interdisciplinary introduction to Africana Studies combines teaching foundational texts in the field with instruction in critical reading and writing. The course will cover Africa and the Atlantic Slave Trade, the creation of African Disaporic communities, the conceptualization and representation of Black culture and identity, and the intellectual and institutional development of Black and Africana Studies.
This course is cross-listed as LALC 121.
Attributes: AMST Representation Elective, Appropriate for First-Year, Global Diversity, Lat Am, Latinx, Carib St Elect, Social Sciences

170 African Civilizations to 1850
This course provides an overview to the political, social, and ecological history of Africa. We will examine the peopling of the continent, the origins of agriculture, the growth of towns and the development of metal technology. Written sources before the 1400s are almost nonexistent for most of Africa, and so we will use archaeological and linguistic sources. The geographic focus of the course will be the Middle Nile, Aksum in Ethiopia, the Sudanic states in West Africa, Kongo in Central Africa, the Swahili states of the East African coast, and Zimbabwe and KwaZulu in Southern Africa. We will also examine the Atlantic Slave Trade and the colonization of the Cape of Good Hope.
This course is cross-listed as HIST 170.
Attributes: AFST - Africa Course, Appropriate for First-Year, Global Diversity, Social Sciences, Sustainability Connections

171 African History since 1800
In this course we will study the political, social, economic and ecological forces that have shaped African societies since 1800. We will examine in depth the Asante kingdom in West Africa, the Kongo kingdom in Central Africa, and the Zulu kingdom in Southern Africa. European's colonization of Africa and Africans' responses will be a major focus of the course.
This course is cross-listed as HIST 171.
Attributes: AFST - Africa Course, Global Diversity, Social Sciences

200 Approaches to Africana Studies
This course will investigate the importance of conceptual analysis and the development of concepts in the theoretical and textual research of Africana Studies. Thus, the course will focus on various interpretive frameworks and approaches to organizing and understanding Africana Studies, including but not limited to the African model, Afrocentricity, diaspora model, critical race theory, post-modernism, and post colonialism.
Prerequisite: 100.
Attributes: AMST Struct & Instit Elective, Social Sciences, Writing in the Discipline

220 Topics in Africana Studies
Selected topics in Africana Studies at the intermediate level. The subject matter will vary from year to year dependent upon the interests of core and contributing Africana Studies faculty as well as the needs and interests of students. Topics may include the Atlantic Slave Trade and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, Major African American Writers, Caribbean Diasporic Identities, among others.
Prerequisite dependent upon topic.

Attributes: Africana Studies Elective, Social Sciences

235 Introduction to Caribbean Studies
The greater Caribbean region was at the center of the formation of the modern African Diaspora. Over the years, the Caribbean region has played an influential role in the development of social and cultural movements throughout the African Diaspora. This class will survey the Caribbean, examining its location, population, diversity, and significant role in shaping world events. Students will become familiar with the Caribbean region, its place as a site of empire, and the important role of key intellectuals who were foundational in developing anti-colonial and post-colonial black consciousness. The course will cover the following areas of inquiry: geography and sociology of the region, key theoretical concepts, leading intellectuals, transforming world events and cultural production.
This course is cross-listed as LALC 122.
Attributes: AFST - Diaspora Course, Appropriate for First-Year, Lat Am, Latinx, Carib St Elect, Social Sciences

304 Afro-Brazilian Literature
This class analyzes the literary production of Afro-Brazilians writers, as well as the representation of Afro-Brazilian characters in literary texts. It reviews different literary periods and the images those periods created and/or challenged and how they have affected and continue to affect the lives of Afro-Brazilians. Also, by paying particular attention to gender and social issues in different regional contexts, the class considers how Brazilian authors of African descent critically approach national discourses, such as racial democracy and Brazilianness. Taught in English. Available as a FLIC option in Portuguese.
This course is cross-listed as PORT 304 and LALC 304. Offered every two years.

Attributes: AFST - Diaspora Course, Humanities, Lat Am, Latinx, Carib St Elect, Portuguese & Brazilian Studies, SPAN/PORT Advanced Topics, Writing in the Discipline

310 Special Topics in Caribbean History and Culture
This course offers a critical examination of issues related to the study of the Caribbean within the wider African diaspora. Examples of topics that would be offered at this level are "The Anthropology of Music in the Caribbean" and "The Caribbean and its African and Indian Diasporas."
Attributes: Social Sciences

320 Topics in Africana Studies
Selected topics in Africana Studies at the advanced level. The subject matter will vary from year to year dependent upon the interests of core and contributing Africana Studies faculty as well as the needs and interests of students. Topics may include Representation of the Black Power Revolution, Black Feminisms, African American Women Writers, African Women's History, Race, Gender and the Body, Post-Colonial Feminist Science Studies, and Black Aesthetics and Visual Culture, among others.
Prerequisite dependent upon topic.
Attributes: Africana Studies Elective, Social Sciences

400 Writing in Africana Studies
This course will build on experiences in the methods course. Students in this course continue research toward and writing of a senior thesis. The emphasis is on writing skills and course material; assignments link those skills to work in Africana Studies. Seniors in the major will work independently with the director of Africana Studies and a second faculty reader (representing a discipline closer to the senior's interest) to produce a lengthy paper or special project which focuses on an issue relevant to the student's concentration. Under the direction of the director of Africana Studies, students will meet collectively two or three times during the semester with the directors (and, if possible, other Africana Studies core and contributing faculty) to share bibliographies, research data, early drafts, and the like. This group will also meet at the end of the semester to discuss and evaluate final papers and projects.
Prerequisites: 100 and 200; four 200/300-level AFST approved courses (2 Africa, 2 Diaspora); three 300-level (in area of concentration).