Skip to main content

About the Program

The program of African Studies (PAS) at Northwestern University is the oldest recognized formal program of African Studies in the United States. Created in 1948 by Melville J. Herskovits, the program and the library that grew alongside it (the largest collection of African and Africana books and artifacts outside of Africa) remains in service to date.  One cannot take away from the prodigious momentous work done by Herskovits and other early scholars, however, we must account for the missteps of history, and attempt a more comprehensive, inclusive, and restorative narrative that allows us to move forward with a more holistic practice.

Northwestern University's program of African Studies, is committed to a decolonized approach to African Studies on many fronts; Structural, epistemic, and relational among others. We commit to creating an academic practice that re-centers Africans, African American and other black communities in the scholarship and knowledge production of and from Africa. We remain committed to this approach as we promote awareness of, study of, research and application of knowledge from and about Africa across interdisciplinary networks of partners and communities of research and learning on the continent as well as across the diaspora. We are further committed to the recovery of, and inclusion of the role that the diaspora and Africans in the diaspora have played in the history of the field, as well as its maintenance, and its future.

Vision & Practices

Interdisciplinary Focus

As one of Northwestern University's research institutes, PAS encompasses a thriving community of faculty, visiting scholars, graduate and undergraduate students who specialize in a variety of disciplines across the university. PAS promotes interdisciplinary coursework and programming that focuses on current events, language training, study abroad programs, and of course, research. In addition, PAS grants an Adjunct Major and Minor in African Studies at the undergraduate level and a Certificate in African Studies at the graduate level as well as administers several grants and fellowships to encourage academic research on Africa and the diaspora.