Course of Study

The Field of African American Studies

The Department of African American Studies offers coursework for undergraduates with an interest in studying the complex interplay between political, economic, and cultural forces shaping the historic achievements and struggles of African-descended people in the United States and their relationship to others around the world.

Students in this field are expected to understand the basic themes and ideas that structure interdisciplinary work in African American Studies. The concentration provides students an opportunity to focus their studies in one of three subfields: 1) African American Culture and Life (AACL); 2) Global Race and Ethnicity (GRE); and 3) Race and Public Policy (RPP). With a combination of courses and interdisciplinary research opportunities, students who earn a certificate or complete the African American Studies concentration will be equipped with the critical and analytical skills that will prepare them for a range of professions. They will be highly qualified to pursue graduate work in the field or its cognate disciplines, and prepared to enter a society in which race continues to be salient.

The African American Studies Subfields

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.