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, community development and the most extensive offering of African languages (Swahili, Zulu, Twi, Somali and Yoruba) found at any university in the U.S. 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 Study Abroad programs to South Africa, Tanzania and Ghana. Our courses are taught by more than 18 full-time faculty members who each hold the doctoral degree in their respective disciplines.

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. For more than twenty years, the Department has also been the home of Research in African Literature, one of the most prestigious journals in African Studies. In 2012 we introduced a second journal, Spectrum: a Journal on Black Men. As a part of the Diversity and Identity Studies project at The Ohio State University, our courses and faculty research reflect our longstanding interest in diversity and identity studies.

Mission Statement

The mission of the department is to produce and disseminate knowledge and understanding about African peoples globally. The department offers students from all communities the opportunity to acquire the theories, practices, methodologies, critical thinking, and communication skills necessary to master an interdisciplinary approach to the historical, cultural, social, psychological, political and economic experiences of people of African descent throughout the world. To foster and maintain an intellectual environment in our community on and off campus, assisting students and community members in their development as lifelong learners and informed citizens, seeking to better the community, nation, and world. 


We envision a Department of African American and African Studies at The Ohio State University that ranks among the top Africana Studies departments in the nation, recognized for the quality and character of its graduates; the outstanding teaching and scholarship of its faculty; and the outreach and engagement of its Community Extension Center.