- Faculty & Staff
- Prizes & Awards
- Events Calendar
More than forty years ago, Harvard University embarked upon a bold experiment in higher education by founding an interdisciplinary department that focused on African and African American Studies. Urged on by shifting coalitions of passionate students and sympathetic faculty committed to diversifying the curriculum and redressing a history of racial exclusion and imbalance, Harvard took to a new level its role in the undergraduate and graduate education of black Americans. Since the end of the nineteenth century, the university had sent forth such intellectual giants as W.E.B. Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson, Alain Locke, and John Hope Franklin. These pathbreaking scholars received their doctorates at Harvard before the mid-twentieth century, and each would make a significant contribution to scholarship on the history, culture, and social institutions of persons of African descent. Today our faculty and course offerings bring together various disciplines—anthropology, art, economics, history, literature, government, music, philosophy, psychology, religion, and sociology. The faculty is comprised of recognized authorities in their respective fields, scholars known for the depth and range of their research as well as for their commitment to larger societal issues of diversity and social justice through public policy initiatives.
The Department provides two tracks of study at the undergraduate and graduate levels—one focusing on Africa and the other focusing on the African diaspora. Not only do our courses reflect a wide variety of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, they also offer students the possibility to create greater specialization in such fields of study as Health and also that of Urban Poverty. Our African Language Program offers instruction in a large number of languages found throughout the African continent. Through the Department’s Social Engagement courses and thesis-writing, students combine rigorous intellectual study with activity-based learning and social entrepreneurship. This is an exciting time to be an African and African American Studies concentrator—for furthering scholarly inquiry and leadership and for mining the considerable interdisciplinary depth of the Department.
Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham
Victor S. Thomas Professor of History
Chair of the Department of African and African American Studies