BA in African American & Black Diaspora Studies

The African American & Black Diaspora Studies major focuses on Black people within a global context, with particular but not exclusive focus on Black people in the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the circum-Atlantic world. It provides a broad interdisciplinary and comparative perspective to deepen understandings of Black life, culture, and history; the historical development and societal impact of racial thought; the place of Black people in modern society and political economy; genealogies of Black thought, political action, and expressive culture; and the imbrication of Black people within grids of racialization, gender, sexuality, social class, and nation, both historically and today. The major is designed to be flexible and easily tailored to each student’s interests and learning goals, whether these focus on a particular population or facet of Black experience or on broader transnational or diachronic issues.

African American & Black Diaspora Studies majors are trained in the theoretical tools necessary for graduate studies. Majors are also well prepared for nonacademic fields, such as law, journalism, and activism/social work, and for community-facing roles and policy design across a variety of fields from the arts to public health. Regardless of their specific career paths, all majors gain the knowledge and skills necessary to participate in public life in a modern world structured by race and cross-cultural interactions.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate an understanding of African American studies within a global context, paying particular attention to peoples of African descent in the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia.
  • Apply and integrate multiple scholarly approaches to the wide range of cultural products and social and historical experiences of Black peoples.
  • Demonstrate the conceptual, theoretical, and research skills that can enable them to become lifelong critical investigators of cross-cultural interactions.
  • Acquire a background for continued graduate study as well as for working in nonacademic fields, such as law, journalism, and activism/social work.
  • Demonstrate sharpened skills in Hub areas—specifically, Historical Consciousness, Social Inquiry I, Research and Information Literacy, Digital/Multimedia Expression, Teamwork/Collaboration, and The Individual in Community developed in the four required courses as well as other skills in elected coursework.

Requirements

All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in African American & Black Diaspora Studies will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Ethical Reasoning, Critical Thinking, Social Inquiry II, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Historical Consciousness, Esthetic Exploration, and The Individual in Community. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, cocurricular experiences.

The major in African American & Black Diaspora Studies requires 11 four-credit courses completed with a minimum grade of C. Most courses are cross-listed in AA from across the University. Transfer-of-credit courses may be allowed upon department approval and only as described below.

Courses are required as follows:

  • CAS AA 112 Black Power in the Classroom: The History of Black Studies
  • CAS AA 207 Sociology of Race/Ethnicity
  • CAS AA 371 African American History
  • CAS AA 591 Black Thought: Diaspora Cultural Criticism

In addition, students must take seven additional AA courses or courses on the approved list. These additional courses must include at least two seminars and no more than three 100-level courses. Among these courses, students are required to take courses fulfilling the following requirements:

At least one 19th-century/slavery course:

  • CAS AA 234 African Americans in Global Perspective: Slavery and the Creation of Race
  • CAS AA 308 Race and Politics
  • CAS AA 350 Resistance, Revolution, and Slavery in African American Literature

At least one cross cultural/global/comparative course (outside of the geographic area of the United States):

  • CAS AA 215 Arts of Africa and Its Diaspora
  • CAS AA 234 African Americans in Global Perspective: Slavery and the Creation of Race
  • CAS AA 316 African Diaspora Arts in the Americas
  • CAS AA 350 Resistance, Revolution, and Slavery in African American Literature
  • CAS AA 380 European Dimensions of the Black Diaspora
  • CAS AA 382 History of Religion in Pre-Colonial Africa
  • CAS AA 383 African Diaspora Religions
  • CAS AA 385 Atlantic History
  • CAS AA 388 Transnational Black Radicalism from the 19th Century to the Present
  • CAS AA 395 Power, Leadership, and Governance in Africa and the Caribbean
  • CAS AA 408 Seminar: Ethnic, Race, and Minority Relations
  • CAS AA 420 African American and Asian American Women Writers: Cross-Cultural
  • CAS AA 477 Critical Studies: Black Diaspora Theory and Practice
  • CAS AA 489 The African Diaspora in the Americas

At least one course featuring gender/sexuality:

  • CAS AA 297 African American Women’s History
  • CAS AA 304 Introduction to African American Women Writers
  • CAS AA 335 Sociology of Race, Class & Gender
  • CAS AA 404 Seminar: The Family
  • CAS AA 420 African American and Asian American Women Writers: Cross-Cultural
  • CAS AA 477 Critical Studies: Black Diaspora Theory and Practice

All majors are assigned an advisor in the program with whom they should regularly consult in planning their programs of study.

Students are expected to take CAS AA 112 (offered in the fall) and CAS AA 207 in their first or sophomore year or the first year after declaring the major. It is recommended that CAS AA 591 be taken in the senior year.