• WMU students gathering before class
  • Instructor and student
  • Student smiling in class
  • Students doing a cultural dance at the WMU International Festival

What is African American and African Studies? Why study it?

African American and African Studies at Western Michigan University is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of the past and present cultures and experiences of peoples of African ancestry or descent. We engage in the critical study of the black Diasporic cultural traditions, conditions, race and ethnic relations in Africa, the Caribbean basin, and especially North America, taking seriously the essential, organic role black peoples and their cultures have played in shaping the societies in which they live.

African American and African Studies emphasizes both an interdisciplinary approach and a global perspective in the study of the history and culture of peoples of African ancestry. We ask students to draw on a wide range of disciplines to fulfill their AAAS program requirements, including literature, history, sociology, economics, anthropology, music, drama, film and the visual arts.

The program major and minor provide opportunities to develop knowledge and skills in critical and analytical thinking. Students will develop a broad and deep understanding of the movement of history, culture, public policy, subjugation, oppression, economics, liberation, democracy and inequality, among other issues, in the context of how African Americans and Africans have tried to make their lives anew.

As part of an intentional community of student scholars who seek a deep understanding of people of African ancestry and their circumstances, students in AAAS will be prepared for graduate school, civic leadership and employment in the public and private sectors.