The Department of African American Studies is made up of a dedicated faculty, a diverse student body, and a commitment to our motto, "Academic Excellence and Social Responsibility." In our teaching and research, we are dedicated to producing and transmitting knowledge of the history and contemporary situation of African Americans, who in turn form a key part of the greater United States population, the diaspora of people of African descent, and the global community.
African American Studies offers a wealth of opportunities for students to study with numerous paths of focus to choose from. Our interdisciplinary faculty members currently teach on subjects such as history, literature, sociology, gender and sexuality studies, health and wellness, music, and dance. The courses offered by the Department of African American Studies are always full of a diverse student body and are designed as spaces for students to grow their cultural awareness. Our students come from every University of Illinois college and department, offering a wide array of perspectives and prior knowledge to the classroom environment. We work to ensure that the students in our courses leave with a richer understanding of the world we live in today.
We encourage students from all disciplines, cultures, and backgrounds to enroll in our classes and choose our department as your major or minor. African American Studies is full of interdisciplinary work and has a vast range of opportunities for anyone’s interests.
The value of a degree in African American Studies can be seen when we look to the notable individuals who earned African American Studies degrees at their university. These individuals include Mae Jemison, the first woman of color to travel to space; Angela Bassett, an Emmy-nominated, Golden Globe-winning actress; Jessica McDonald, member of the U.S. Women's National Soccer team; Former New York Senator Carl Andrews; and First Lady Michelle Obama. The list goes on to include mayors, musicians, artists, producers, authors, members of the clergy, and community outreach leaders and coordinators. So, if you are ever asked by friends or family, “What can you do with a degree in African American Studies?” you should feel confident when you respond by saying, “Anything I would like to do!”
Please come visit our office at 1201 W. Nevada Street if you would like to learn more about what we have to offer and how you can join us in the work we are passionate about at the Department of African American Studies.