If you study the culture and the art of African American you are not studying a regional or minor culture. What you are studying is America. The culture of the people of this country is interdisciplinary, its proactive, its reflective and its about you and me.

– Toni Morrison

Afro-American Studies was never meant to be solely for Afro-Americans. It was meant to try to redefine what it means to be human, what it means to be modern, what it means to be American, because people of African descent in this country are profoundly human, profoundly modern, profoundly American. And so to the degree to which they can see the riches that we have to offer as well as see our shortcomings, is the degree to which they can more fully understand the modern and what modernity is all about, and more fully understand the American experience.

– Cornel West

The Department of African American Studies offers both a concentration and an undergraduate certificate. The curriculum reflects the complex interplay between political, economic, and cultural forces that shape our understanding of the historic achievements and struggles of African-descended people in this country and their relation to others around the world. Toward that end, the course of study is organized into three thematic subfields:

  1. Global Race and Ethnicity: In this track, students use the prevailing analytical tools and critical perspectives of African American studies to consider comparative approaches to groups, broadly defined. Students will examine the intellectual traditions, socio-political contexts, expressive forms, and modes of belonging of people who are understood to share common boundaries/experiences as either: (1) Africans and the African Diaspora outside of the United States and (2) non-African-descended people of color within the United States.
  2. African American Culture and Life: In this track, students encounter the theoretical canon and keywords, which shape the contemporary discipline of African American studies. Accessing a range of interdisciplinary areas, situated primarily in the United States, students will learn to take a critical posture in examining the patterns and practices that order and transform black subjects and black life.
  3. Race and Public Policy: In this track, students use and interrogate social science methodologies in examining the condition of the American state and American institutions and practices. With an analysis of race and ethnicity at the center, students will examine the development of institutions and practices, with the growth and formation of racial and ethnic identities, including changing perceptions, measures, and reproduction of inequality.

In addition to the concentration and certificate, the Department of African American Studies organizes a Senior Colloquium for seniors, as well as an array of courses, events, and lecture series (open to all students) that expand and deepen understanding of race in the United States and in the world.

If you have any questions or need any additional information, please contact our Director of Undergraduate Studies Professor Tera Hunter at (609) 258-8904 or via email at thunter@princeton.edu and/or see the Princeton University African American Undergraduate Announcement.