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About Us

The African Studies Program marked its 50th anniversary in fall 2011.  Its official development began in 1961 with a five-year development grant from the Ford Foundation under the directorship of political scientist and Liberia scholar J. Gus Liebenow.  The Program grew quickly and gained recognition as a Title VI National Resource Center in 1965, a status it has been able to maintain over the years.  Partnerships and cooperation with African institutions and colleagues have been integral to the Program’s activities since its inception.

Our vibrant and flourishing Program today includes faculty who are engaged in a wide spectrum of research and teaching across all regions of the continent and its diasporas, and across disciplines in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and the professional schools.  Our faculty and advanced graduate students attend and present at meetings of professional associations in their disciplines, the African Studies Association, and at international conferences.  Many of our faculty also hold, or have held, positions on governing boards of national associations and on editorial boards of journals.  The international journal Africa Today is edited by members of the African Studies Program and published by Indiana University Press.  Faculty, graduate students, and international scholars enhance intellectual life through presentations in our weekly Noon Talks, Wednesday Seminar guest lectures, and in occasional symposiums, workshops, and conferences.

The African collections in the libraries and museums have been carefully developed over the years and are integral to the strengths of the Program.  Indiana University is known for its extensive Africana collections in the Wells Library and for several special archival collections, including the Somali Collection, the Liberian Collections, and the H.K. Banda Archive.  The Liberian and Somali Collections are not only among the top such collections worldwide, they are also a vital resource for Liberia and Somalia due to the destruction of archival and library holdings in these countries.  The Art Museum houses one of the finest university-based collections of African art in the world.

We regularly offer several African languages (including Akan/Twi, Arabic, Bamana, Swahili, Wolof, and Zulu) through the advanced level in addition to a wide range of topical courses across the disciplines.  We also encourage undergraduate and graduate students to gain first-hand experience in Africa and facilitate study abroad and research toward this end.  Undergraduates can obtain a Minor or a Certificate in African Studies and an African Languages Minor through the Department of Linguistics.  Graduate students are able to acquire Africa expertise through a Master’s degree or a Ph.D. Minor in African Studies as well as through dual/joint Master’s degrees with the School of Library and Information Science, Public and Environmental Affairs, and Public Health.  Details on these options, and on others as they are developed, are provided under the Academics rubric of this web site.

Many of our extra-curricular events are open to the public.  We also maintain an active Outreach Program aimed at enhancing knowledge about Africa in the schools, the community, business, and the media.

Please explore our web site to learn more about the different facets of the Program and/or contact us for additional information.