Africana Studies

The field of Africana Studies examines the history and culture of people of African descent including Black people in the US and across the diaspora.

Students sitting in an Africana Studies class at Simmons University

Develop the skills to challenge systemic oppression and promote racial justice

The Africana Studies program offers opportunities to critically examine the historical, political, social, economic, and cultural processes and institutions of people across the African diaspora, including the experiences of Black people in the United States and across the globe. The program has a long history at Simmons University. The program was established as Black Studies in 1972 in response to Black student activism on campus.

The Africana Studies program offers both a major and a minor. It is an interdisciplinary and transnational program situated primarily in the humanities and social sciences that provides opportunities for the intersectional study of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. It provides a solid foundation in critical thinking, research, writing, and technology, equipping students with marketable, transferable skills that translate into living and working in a diverse world as well as demonstrate cultural competency to future employers in fields such as education, social work and nonprofit sectors, medicine, law, and business. Students with degrees in Africana Studies develop the tools to become global citizens and participate effectively to shape a more inclusive, equitable, socially just world.

The Africana Studies major consists of 9 courses (36 semester hours) of coursework. Students in the major are required to complete the following program of study:

Three Required Core Courses (12 semester hours) that include:


AST101 Introduction to Africana Studies 4
AST202 Introduction to Black Popular Culture 4
AST350 Independent Study 4
AST355 Senior Thesis 4
AST365 Intimate Family Violence 4
AST370 Internship 0
AST375 Behind the Veil: Simmons Oral History Project 4
CRGCS355 Critical Race, Gender and Cultural Studies Capstone Project 0
  • Two Additional Africana Studies Courses (8 semester hours) in the program each with an AST prefix.
  • Four Elective Courses (16 semester hours) chosen from the list of approved classes. At least one of the elective courses needs to be at the advanced 300-level. No more than two elective courses can be situated in the same department and have the same prefix.

Africana Studies Course Offerings:

AST101 Introduction to Africana Studies 4
AST 170 Introduction to 21st Century Global Literature 4
AST 175 African American Fiction 0
AST202 Introduction to Black Popular Culture 4
AST210 Black Women, Gender, and Feminism(s) 4
AST232 Race, Gender & Health 4
AST240 Black Intellectuals and Entrepreneurs 4
AST245 Tweeting Into the Future: Race, Technology & Social Media 4
AST249 Inequality: Race, Class, and Gender in Comparative Settings 4
AST 274 Literature of the Jazz Age 4
AST275 The Black Freedom Movement: From Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter 4
AST307 Black History at the Movies 4
AST313 The Black Struggle for Schooling in the The United States 4
AST 317 Toni Morrison Seminar 4
AST350 Independent Study 4
AST355 Senior Thesis 4
AST365 Intimate Family Violence 4
AST370 Internship 0
AST375 Behind the Veil: Simmons Oral History Project 4

Approved Elective Course offerings

ART251 African Art: 3000 BC to the Present 4
ART255 African American Art 4
COMM268 Human Rights in South Africa 4
CRGCS101 Identity and Power 4
CRGCS102 Introduction to Migration Studies 4
CRGCS355 Critical Race, Gender and Cultural Studies Capstone Project 0
FREN235 The Francophone Caribbean: Literature and Culture 4
FREN265 Francophone Short Stories 4
HIST 118 Topics in Latin American History 4
HIST210 African American Experience 4
HIST211 Medicine and the African American Experience 4
HIST213 Race and Ethnicity in U.S. History 4
HIST214 African Diaspora 4
HIST217 Caribbean History 4
HIST240 The Atlantic World 1500-1800 4
LTWR230 Postcolonial Film 4
LTWR235 Identity and Race in 19th Century American Literature 4
LTWR 274 Literature of the Jazz Age 4
LTWR327 Psychoanalysis, Race and Sexuality 4
POLS215 The Politics of Exclusion 4
POLS226 State and Local Politics 4
POLS228 The War on Drugs 3
POLS234 African American Political Theory 4
POLS242 Colonial & Postcolonial Politics of Africa 4
SOCI300 Special Topics: Race Theory 4
SOCI344 Sociology of Poetry & Prose 4
SOCI347 Antiracism and Social Justice 4
SOCI348 Re-envisioning the Third World 4

One Required Course (4 semester hours) chosen from the following:

AST101 Introduction to Africana Studies 4
AST102 Black Culture in U.S. Society 4
  • Two Additional Africana Studies Courses (8 semester hours) in the program each with an AST prefix.
  • Two Additional Courses (8 semester hours) in the Africana Studies program (AST prefix) or from the list of approved elective courses. At least one of the elective courses needs to be at the advanced 300-level.

The Africana Studies major and minor both pair well with any fields of study across the university. With a wide array of electives across many different departments, students have the freedom to choose a course of study that reflects their interests. Students interested in dual degree programs or self-designed majors should consult with program faculty to design an individualized program that best suits their interests. The program also offers internships and opportunities for advanced study in independent studies or a senior thesis for interested students as well as supports study abroad.

Cover of 1980s era Simmons Magazine

Celebrating 50 Years of Africana Studies at Simmons

Learn about the history of Africana Studies, the work of its students and recent graduates, and explore oral histories of Black alums from the 1970s and 1980s.

50 Years of Africana Studies

Spotlight on Africana Studies Students and Alums

Reham Zeroual Photo

Merging a Scholarly Stance with Lived Experience

Africana Studies and Political Science double major Reham Zeroual ’24 discusses her engagement with Student Senate, her favorite courses and professors, as well as her experience as a first-generation college student.

Headshots of the 2024 Senior Scholar Award winners

Congratulations to the 2024 Senior Scholars

The annual Senior Scholar Award is sponsored by the Provost's Office and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. The award recognizes six graduating seniors for their outstanding scholarship and contribution to a field of study.

Bart Brown ’24, Gia Elie ’24, Sunei Clarke ’24, and Sunday Ntoto ’24 of the Black Student Organization host the Cupcake Tabling event at Common Grounds on February 1, 2023

Black Student Organization Honors Black History Month with Food, Festivities, and Intergenerational Community

Throughout Black History Month, all students are welcome to express their solidarity with Simmons’ Black community over cupcakes, soul food, music, and dancing. We spoke with BSO’s Soul President Gia Elie ’24, Soul Vice President Sunei Clarke ’24, and Soul of Communications Bartianna Brown ’24 about their passion for Black history and co-curating events that celebrate their culture.

The cupola of the Main College Building on the Simmons campus with a Pride flag in the foreground

Trans & Non-Binary Living-Learning Communities at Simmons Offer Residential Support and Allyship on Campus

The Trans & Non-Binary Living-Learning Communities (LLC) are for students who identify anywhere within the transgender and non-binary spectrum, as well as active allies. We spoke to students, staff, and Resident Advisors about how the LLC supports trans undergraduate students on campus.

Photo of Keeva Haynes

Meet Keeva Haynes ’02, Senior Manager at PwC and Member of the African American Alumnae/i Association

In her career and volunteer work, Keeva Haynes is passionate about gender and racial equity. Working at a major accounting, audit, and consulting firm, Haynes manages performance, planning, and evaluations operations across partners in the U.S. and Mexico, as well...

Photos of the six award winners

Undergraduate Recipients of 2023 Senior Scholar Award

Six seniors across the University have been selected as recipients of the 2023 Senior Scholar Award, in recognition of outstanding scholarship and contribution to a field of study.

Eugenia Knight

Teaching Social Workers to Work with the Marginalized with Associate Professor Eugenia Knight ’97

Eugenia Knight ’97 is Associate professor of practice and director of practicum education for Master of Social Work. In March 2022, Knight was named the 2022-23 Center for Faculty Excellence Faculty Fellow for Teaching and Learning. For her year-long appointment...

Helena Fils ’07 ’21SN ’24MSN

How Africana Studies Shed Light on Entertainment and Healthcare, with Helena Fils ’07 ’21SN ’24MSN

Helena Fils ’07 (English) ’21 (Nursing) wrapped her nursing board exams and received her license number in March 2022. Shortly thereafter, Helena returned to Simmons for her MSN. Why did you decide to attend Simmons for your undergraduate degree? My...