Students can choose from seven thematic emphases.

Thematic Emphases do not require specific coursework, but rather guide the topical focus for each student throughout their undergraduate career.

After deciding upon a thematic emphasis, students are advised to make an appointment with the faculty liaison for their respective emphasis to develop a relationship, get advice on coursework, seek out future research opportunities, and potentially advise or direct them to other advisors for honors/capstone research projects.


Politics & The Law


Faculty Director(s): Lauren Davenport & Rick Banks

This emphasis exposes students to inquiry and major topics in disciplines like public policy, government, and international relations.

Sample courses

AFRICAAM 58Q American Landscapes of Segregation

AFRICAAM 241 Race, Justice, & Integration

AMSTUD 108 Race and the Law: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

AMSTUD 106 Spectacular Trials: Sex, Race, and Violence in Modern American Culture

CSRE 229 Racial Justice through Law


Historical Inquiry


Faculty Director(s): Allyson Hobbs, Clayborne Carson, Jim Campbell

This emphasis exposes students to historical and historiographical views of the black experience in US and transnational contexts.  

Sample courses

AFRICAAM 252C The Old South: Culture Society, and Slavery

AFRICAAM 18C Sugar, Slavery, Race & Revolution: The Caribbean, 1450-1888

AFRICAAM 68D Martin Luther King Jr.: The Inner Life & Global Vision

AFRICAAM 45S The Cold War & the Shaping of Modern Africa

AFRICAAM 51 Hamilton: An American Musical


Identity & Intersectionality


Faculty Director(s): Jennifer Brody, Allyson Hobbs, Stephen Shigematsu

This multi-disciplinary thematic emphasis exposes students to fields that attend to questions of identity and analysis drawn from gender and sexuality studies, critical ethnic studies, religious studies, etc.

Sample courses

AFRICAAM 226 Mixed Race Politics and Culture

AFRICAAM 258X Black Feminist Theater & Theory

AFRICAAM 236 Constructing Race & Religion

AFRICAAM 54N African American Women’s Lives

FEMGEN 97 Bow Down: Queer Hip-Hop Pedagogy

AFRICAAM 121N How to Make a Racist


Art & Cultural Expression


Faculty Director(s): Michele Elam, Vaughn Rasberry, Jonathan Calm

This thematic emphasis focuses on disciplines that engage literature, performance studies, art and visual culture, cultural theory, etc.

Sample Courses

AFRICAAM 265G African American Independent Film

AFRICAAM 159 James Baldwin & 20th Century Literature

AFRICAAM 156 Race, Politics, & the Staging of August Wilson

AFRICAAM 160J Conjure Art 101: Performances of Ritual, Spirituality, & Decolonial Black Feminist Magic

AFRICAAM 18B Jazz History

AFRICAAM 352 The Novel in Africa

AFRICAAM 133 Literature & Society in Africa & The Caribbean

AFRICAAM 45 Freestyle Improv from Contemporary to Hip Hop & Beyond


Media, Science, & Technology


Faculty Director(s): Adam Banks

This thematic emphasis focuses on disciplines that engage journalism and communications, digital studies, environmental studies, biotechnology, and science, technology, and society, etc.

Sample Courses

AFRICAAM 41 Genes and Identity

AFRICAAM 81 Media Representations of Africa

AFRICAAM 200N Technologies, Social Justice, & Black Vernacular Cultures

AFRICAAM 122F Histories of Race in Science & Medicine at Home and Abroad

AFRICAAM 223 Literature & Human Experimentation


Education, Policy, & Reform


Faculty Director(s): Arnetha Ball, Bryan Brown

This thematic emphasis focuses on issues related to education and education policy, linguistics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc.

Sample Courses

AFRICAAM 112 Urban Education

AFRICAAM 106 Race, Ethnicity, & Linguistic Diversity in Classrooms

AFRICAAM 21 African American Vernacular English

AFRICAAM 241 Race, Justice & Integration


Social Impact & Entrepreneurship


Faculty Director(s):  TBD

This thematic emphasis focuses on practice and the study of justice ideologies, social movements, social entrepreneurship, and community-based research, etc.

Sample Courses

AFRICAAM 106B Community Based Research as a Tool for Social Change

AFRICAAM 32 Social Class, Race, Ethnicity, & Health

AFRICAAM 111 Foreign Aid & Development in Africa

AFRICAAM 241A Gentrification

AFRICAAM 121N Literature & Global Health