Ohio State nav bar

About the Department of African American and African Studies

About the Department

African American and African Studies at The Ohio State University is a proud product of the 1960's Black freedom movement. Originally established as an academic division in October 1969 as Black Studies, it achieved formal department status in 1972 and today enjoys the reputation of being one of the strongest African American and African Studies programs in the nation. The primary mission of the department is to stimulate teaching and research about the Black experience in the United States, Africa, and throughout the African Diaspora and to encourage students and others to assess various strategies for advancing human progress through the examination of the global struggle for Black freedom.

The Department offers courses leading to the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and a PhD in African American and African Studies. Our comprehensive multidisciplinary curriculum includes courses in literature, music, history, psychology, sociology, political science, and community development. Our students have an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the black experience from a range of perspectives, which include opportunities to participate in a Study Abroad program to Zambia. 

The African American and African Studies Department also has a Community Extension Center, which serves as both our outreach arm into the large Black community in the city of Columbus as well as a significant resource for faculty and student research and community engagement. The Department is also the home to Research in African Literatures, one of the most prestigious journals in African Studies. In 2012 we introduced a second journal, Spectrum: A Journal on Black Men.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS) is to interrogate critically the intersection of race and ethnicity in relationship to other identities, including gender, sexuality, nation, religion, class, and citizenship in local and global contexts. Through research and teaching, the department uses interdisciplinary methodologies and intellectual inquiries in order to sharpen critical thinking and advance social justice discourses within the university and throughout the world. The department employs these tools and applies these strategies in its teaching and research as well as through programming, activities, and events that foster community engagement and public-facing research at its Community Extension Center.