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 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.

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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

Our Faculty

Photo of Tatiana M.F. Cruz

Tatiana M.F. Cruz

  • Assistant Professor and Interdisciplinary Program Director of Africana Studies
Dawna Thomas speaking at podium

Dawna Thomas

  • Professor and Chair of Critical Race, Gender and Cultural Studies
Marda Messay photo

Marda Messay

  • Associate Professor and PLAN Language Requirement Coordinator