Schools, Departments & Programs

African Studies


The African Studies Program (AFRI) provides unique opportunities for students on the Indiana University Bloomington campus to study with distinguished faculty members, meet with visiting Africanists from all over the world, learn African languages, and use the outstanding facilities of the Wells Library, the Archives of Traditional Music, and the Art Museum. The Program has both regional and subject-area concentrations in which faculty conduct research and offer courses. Regularly offered language courses include Akan, Arabic, Bamana, Swahili, Wolof, Yoruba, and Zulu. Tutorial sections in other African languages may be provided if funding is available.

Undergraduate students can earn a Certificate in African Studies by completing a flexible course of study designed to fit their individual interests and needs. A certificate is more rigorous than a minor, showing potential employers and graduate schools that students have completed a comprehensive course of study in an important world region. It is intended to give undergraduates both a broad, interdisciplinary understanding of the African continent (as does the minor), but it also requires that students gain a more in-depth knowledge of Africa as it relates to at least one discipline and one of its languages. Four semesters of an African language such as Akan/Twi, Arabic, Bamana, Swahili, Wolof, Yoruba, or Zulu are required. A Certificate in African Studies also complements a major in many departments and professional schools throughout the university.

The African Studies Minor is intended to give undergraduates an opportunity to gain a broad, interdisciplinary understanding of the African continent. As an interdisciplinary minor, it complements a variety of majors. The African Studies Minor provides students with a cross-disciplinary understanding of the African continent by helping them gain a basic understanding of African history, achieve a familiarity with African cultures and societies, contextualize and analyze current African issues, and acquire at least an elementary knowledge of a language spoken on the African continent (not including English). The minor is sufficiently flexible to complement any departmental major.

The African Expressive Culture Minor allows students to develop a deeper understanding of African societies, nations, ethnic groups, citizens, and their many contributions to world history and current events through the study of African expressive practices--including the visual arts, music and dance, theater and cinema, epics and oral traditions, and a large variety of other creative forms of communication such as religious and political activities and numerous types of sports and games. Effective, punctuated expression—which is to say aesthetically designed and enacted communication--carries tremendous social weight across the continent of Africa, in every nation and every culture. It is used to communicate values, to bolster and garner support for them, or subvert and change them. It is used to wield or reform political influence. It is used to gain or maintain social and economic resources. It possesses this clout because aesthetic expression is sophisticated business in African societies, and citizens from every walk of life put much stock in its importance. The minor will allow students to take several courses across a spectrum of creativity—such as literature, music, and the visual arts—or concentrate courses in any one of those, or even concentrate on a particular geographic region of the continent.

Recognition that a student has earned a certificate or a minor appears on the transcript along with the student's major department. The certificate or minor is awarded upon graduation from Indiana University.

The African Studies Program is affiliated with the new School of Global and International Studies (SGIS), which prepares students for opportunities in any international field they choose, whether they plan to work in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors. The School has a dual focus that sets it apart. On the one hand, it teaches the languages and histories of strategically important regions of the world. IU has long been a leading university for studying the cultures of communities around the world, and SGIS seeks to maintain and build upon this proud tradition. At the same time, SGIS also examines crucial contemporary issues that transcend borders. Areas of focus include security, trade and development, global governance, and human rights. SGIS prioritizes a pragmatic, nonpartisan understanding of some of the most challenging issues of our times. Perhaps no one exemplifies the approach and impact that SGIS hopes that its alumni will have better than two of its distinguished faculty members, former Representative Lee Hamilton and former Senator Richard Lugar.

SGIS provides its students with unmatched opportunities. Students have the opportunity to study in a state-of-the-art building at the center of campus. The ratio of faculty to undergraduate majors is seven-to-one, and virtually all SGIS faculty teach undergraduates. Over 60 percent of SGIS students study abroad, for which SGIS offers a wide range of scholarships. Finally, SGIS has top-notch academic and career advisors who develop close relationships with the students.

Majors, Minors, and Programs
Contact Information

African Studies Program
Indiana University
GA 3082 (GISB East)
355 North Jordan Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405-1105

(812) 855-8284
afrist [at] indiana [dot] edu