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About the Program

In 1948, the pioneering anthropologist Melville J. Herskovits founded the Program of African Studies at Northwestern University. As the first formally established program of African Studies in the country, it has grown from a few courses and a multidisciplinary graduate student seminar into a large, well-rounded curriculum of African courses in the social sciences and humanities with a graduate student training program focused on Africa-based fieldwork and research issues. Over the past 70 years, its faculty and alumni have been instrumental in developing methodologies in linguistics, oral history, anthropology and sociology, African gender studies, art history, and African state formation among others. They have established institutes for secondary school teachers and curriculum development for basic college courses on Africa topics. The program facilitates publication of research and its faculty and students actively collaborate with research centers throughout Africa. Alumni from the program have been and continue to be influential leaders in the academic and political realms in both Africa and the United States.

The Program serves as a vital base for the world-class Africanist faculty, students, and professionals attracted to Northwestern and its renowned Herskovits Library of African Studies. Guiding the study of Africa at Northwestern, the program hosts scholars and distinguished visitors from the continent and around the world. Throughout the year, PAS sponsors events such as talks, discussions, readings, and films. We also collaborate with a variety of centers both within Northwestern and outside in several projects.

Interdisciplinary Focus

PAS encompasses a thriving community of faculty and graduate and undergraduate students who specialize in a variety of disciplines across the university. The program promotes interdisciplinary coursework and special events focusing on current events, language training, study abroad programs, and 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.

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