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African and African Diaspora Studies

morrissey college of arts and sciences

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  • Director: Martin Summers, 617-552-3814
  • Assistant Director: Richard Paul, 617-552-4938

Undergraduate Program Description

The African and African Diaspora Studies Program (AADS) considers the history, culture, and politics of Africans on the continent and African-descended peoples in the U.S., the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Covering vast historical periods and geographies, AADS acquaints students with the multiplicity and diversity of the African Diaspora and the world in which we all live. Using an interdisciplinary and comparative approach, the program draws on a broad range of methodologies in Literature, History, Sociology, Philosophy, Theology and Communication.

Central Themes

To get the most out of an AADS minor, students are encouraged to organize their courses around the central themes of globalization, intersectionality, or social justice.


Globalization is as old as the trade in African slaves. Patterns of resource extraction, labor, trade, commerce, and travel have shaped the experiences of African-descended peoples and the peoples they have encountered. Selected courses explore the connections between various geographic regions, cultural traditions, and historical developments that have defined globalization.


Race is defined by various identity categories and social locations such as gender, class, color, ethnicity, region, nation, age, sexuality, political ideals, and spiritual beliefs. Intersectionality reminds us that race is not a monolithic or homogenous category of human experience.

Social Justice

The history of African and African-descended peoples has been defined by the struggle for social justice: the fight for human equality, the fight against racism, sexism, homophobia, and class exploitation. In resisting enslavement, segregation, patriarchy, imperialism, and colonialism, and by striving to overturn discrimination in education, housing, healthcare, employment, and religious institutions, African and African Diasporic peoples have undertaken drives for social emancipation that have expanded the meaning of democratic ideals.

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Minor Requirements—18 credits (or more)

Required Courses:

  • AADS1110 Introduction to African Diaspora Studies—3 credits
  • AADS6600 Senior Seminar—4 credits
  • Four additional courses (clustered around a theme)—we recommend that minors take at least two courses of 3 or 4 credits before taking AADS6600 Senior Seminar

AADS1110 Introduction to African Diaspora Studies familiarizes students with the major issues and methodologies involved in studying the African Diaspora. AADS6600 Senior Seminar is an intensive reading and writing course designed to assist students in synthesizing their minor experience. Minors must pass AADS1100 prior to enrolling in AADS6600.

To affirm and specify our minors’ selected Central Theme, we suggest that their four additional courses reflect a particular thematic focus. Some possible themes are:

  • Cities and Urban Life
  • Economics of Inequality
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Globalization and Development
  • Intellectual and Philosophical Traditions
  • Migration and Immigration
  • Music and the Performing Arts
  • Political Systems and Grassroots Protest
  • Popular Culture and New Media
  • Spirituality and Social Protest

Though suggested, these themes are not required; additionally, students may devise their own thematic focus, in consultation with the AADS Director or their AADS Advisor.

Contact us at 617-552-3238 or visit our website at

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Core Offerings

The Program offers several courses that satisfy the Core requirement in Cultural Diversity and one course that satisfies the requirement in Social Sciences.

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