Department Mission

The Africana Studies major is designed to provide students with a rich intellectual experience through the critical and systematic study of the life, thought and practice of African peoples, Continental and Diasporan, in their current and historical dimensions. The Discipline of Africana Studies focuses on critical study of African Americans, Continental Africans, Afro-Caribbeans, and Afro-Latinos, but also allows for study of African peoples in Asia and Europe. Africana Studies seeks to critically examine and understand the Africana experience from an Afrocentric or African-centered perspective, i.e., from a position internal to the culture of the people studied, while retaining a respect for and openness to the multicultural character and instructive value of the total human experience. Thus, Africana Studies emphasizes an interdisciplinary and multicultural approach to scholarship, teaching and learning as vital to the discipline and general educational enterprise. Within this understanding, Africana Studies expects students to develop a critical capacity for comparative analysis, holistic thinking, multicultural and international awareness, and sensitivity to issues of race, ethnicity, class and gender.

Africana Studies understands itself as the central site for the critical, coherent and concentrated study of African peoples in their commonalities and diversity. It therefore offers a wide range of courses for the general academic interest and requirements of the university and the specialized concentration of its majors and minors in various areas of focus. The subspecialties of the discipline include: Africa theory and philosophy; Africana women’s studies; African American historical studies; and Continental African studies.

Africana Studies offers knowledge and training which provide a solid foundation for those interested in: (1) continuing their education in graduate studies in Africana Studies or in such areas as law, education, social and behavioral sciences, business, etc; (2) seeking to enhance their education and employability by adding a multicultural and diversity aspect to it (teaching, administrators, counselors, business persons, etc.); (3) pursuing various careers, especially those which increasingly require or prefer ethnic and multicultural knowledge and competence. Thus, Africana Studies majors have been successful in a variety of fields, including education, law, politics, urban planning, business, government, journalism, psychology, social work, criminal justice, acting, creative writing, and Foreign Service.

Given its appreciation for its origins and continuing rootedness in social and academic concerns and initiatives, the Africana Studies Department values and constantly expands its links with the local, national and world African community. It thus encourages students to take advantage of opportunities to do service learning and internships, and study abroad. The Department also encourages and supports faculty/student collaboration in conferences, forums, field trips and joint research and writing projects. The Department of Africana Studies also puts great emphasis on enhanced mentoring and advisement in the interest of pedagogy of cooperative teaching and learning which fosters academic excellence, student success, and social responsibility and engagement.