Saint Louis University

African American Studies Program Requirements


Major Requirements

A total of 30 hours are required for completing the major in African American Studies. Students are able to declare the major after passing either Introduction to African American Studies or Contemporary Black America. 

Required courses
Students are required to complete five core courses (15 hours) designed to introduce them to the goals of the African American Studies program and help them develop a further understanding of the African Diaspora, the impact, interrelationships and dynamics in contemporary African American communities. 

The 15 hours required in specific courses include:
AAM 2000 Introduction to African American Studies
AAM 2010 Contemporary Black America
AAM 3000 or 4000 level African American Studies class
AAM 4970 Research Methods  
AAM 4960 Capstone

Elective courses

The remaining five courses can be selected from African American Studies courses and courses originating in and offered by other academic units that are cross listed with African American Studies. Up to 6 hours of electives can be used for "double duty" as Arts & Sciences core requirements.
The 15 elective hours should cohere around a theme or specific interest with a disciplinary emphasis in either the humanities or social sciences. A theme can focus on areas such as African American literature, African American history, politics, communication, popular culture, identity, urban issues, Africa and the Diaspora, Black feminist thought, activism, social movements.

Related hours
Students majoring in African American Studies are also required to complete at least 15 hours of coursework in another academic area with at least 6 hours of that coursework at the 300- or 400- level.
African American Studies majors can satisfy this requirement in several ways: 

  • completing a double major or a minor in another department
  • completing a certificate program
  • completing (in consultation with their African American Studies faculty mentor) 15 hours of courses in any area that complements the student's interests.

Courses transferred in from other institutions will be reviewed for course objectives, course content, emphasis on the African Diaspora, and African American communities.


Minor Requirements

A total of 21 hours are required for completing the minor in African American Studies.

Required courses
Students are required to complete four core courses (12 hours) designed to introduce them to the goals of the African American Studies program and help them develop a further understanding of the African Diaspora, the impact, interrelationships and dynamics in contemporary African American communities.

The 12 hours of elective courses include:
AAM-2000 Intro to African American Studies
AAM-2010 Contemporary Black America
AAM-3000/4000 Level (3 hours)
AAM-4960 Capstone

The remaining nine hours may be completed through interdisciplinary course work taught by African American Studies, or by any department, with an inclusion and/or emphasis on the African Diaspora.  

A few examples of courses offered:
AAM-3330 African Diaspora Writing (Cross listed with English)
AAM-3350 African American Religious Traditions (Cross listed with Theology))
AAM-4330 Psychology of Oppression (Cross listed with Psychology)
AAM-4340 African American Psychology (Cross listed with Psychology)
AAM-4770 Philosophy and Social Change (Cross listed with Philosophy)


Sample Course Descriptions

AAM-2000 Introduction to African American Studies (3)
An interdisciplinary survey course, which introduces the discipline of Africology through the examination of the African Diasporas and its impact on the Americas. The course focuses on the movement, conditions and experiences, which shaped the development of the African American Society. Every Semester.

AAM-2010 Contemporary Black America (3)
A study into the current issues and problems facing and impacting the African American society from the 1960's through today. This course also examines the present leadership in Black America and delves into a treatment of future directions and problems facing the society. Spring Semester.

AAM-2320  Art of the African Diaspora (3)
In this course, we will explore the political and historical threads that connect artists of African descent to their immediate communities, to the U.S., UK, Caribbean, and Latin America, and finally, to an international art historical network.  Over the semester, we will discuss the visual arts, carnival, and cultural movements produced by artists of African descent in the UK, Latin America, the US, the Caribbean, and in Africa.

AAM-2500  Intergroup Dialogue: GENDER/RACE (3) (Subject title alternates every semester)
Inter-Group Dialogue courses provide structured, sustained, and facilitated face-to-face meetings for people from different and often conflicted social identity groups.  These encounters are designed to offer an open and inclusive space where participants can foster a deeper understanding of diversity and social justice issues through experiential activities, pedagogical interventions, individual and small group reflections, and intergroup dialogues.  Each IGD  class meets once a week for 3 hours over the span of an entire semester.  Each group will typically have 12-14 participants with equal identity dynamics.  Students will spend the semester discussing, thinking, reading, and writing about issues relating to race (or gender).

AAM-2520 Introduction to African Politics (3)
Cross-listed with POLA 252. A study of government and political processes. Examines salient themes such as the nature of African traditional heritage; colonial experience; nationalism and independence the challenge of nation building; African political parties; role of the military and contributions of difference theories to the understanding of African politics. Offered every third semester.

AAM-2550 Political Systems of Sub Saharan Africa (3)
Cross-listed with POLA 255. Examines governmental institutions and political processes in selected nations of Africa south of the Sahara. The emphasis is on nationalism and independence types of civilian regimes, modernization, the role of the military and transition to democracy.

AAM-2930 Special topics (1-3)
Every Semester.

AAM-3200 African American Culture (3)
This course examines the origins, history and contemporary practices of African American cultural traditions. Course material will provide a survey of various topics including: religion, literature, food, fashion, language, art, dance and music (including gospel, blues, rap and hip hop)- with a focus on understanding how cultural beliefs, traditions and practices influence and inform social, community and individual interaction and everyday lived experiences.

AAM-3230 The History of Africa to 1884 (3)
Cross-listed with HS A323. Examines population movement, and interaction, development of institutions and ideas in African civilization; varying types of politics and revolutionary changes; slavery and the Atlantic encounter; impact of Christianity and Islam.

AAM-3240 The History of Africa Since 1884 (3)
Cross-listed with HS A324. Examines political, economic and social developments in Africa since 1884. Includes European scramble for and partition of Africa,; African initiatives and reaction to imposition of colonial rule; the colonial state and history of colonial rule; independence movements; Nationalism and nation building.

AAM 3310 Intercultural Communication (3)
Cross-listed with CMMA 330. Introduces the role of culture in the process of human interaction and encourages in-depth analysis of the unique challenges posed by intercultural encounters. Develops a better understanding of culture and the many ways in which it influences interaction between individuals and groups. Every semester.

AAM-3330  African Diaspora Writing  (3)
An introduction to the fiction and poetry of Black, African and African American writers.

AAM-3350 African American Religious Traditions (3)
The purpose of this class is to expose the student to the historical and social nature of African American Religion. The course will cover the historical development of African American Religion from its African origins up to and including the Civil Rights Movement with some attention given to contemporary black liberation theology.

AAM-3930 Special Topics (1-3)
Every Semester

AAM-3950  Human Sexuality in the Black Community (3)
This course examines theoretical and conceptual issues, empirical research, and social policies germane to human sexuality. The primary focus is on sexuality within the United States. Students should be aware that while this course may prompt them to think about their own sexuality more systematically, the course is not designed to be a "personal growth" experience. Instead, students should expect to approach sexuality more analytically and to develop a sociological and social psychological understanding of the diverse issues covered in this course. These topics include: Sexual Function; Gender; Sexuality over the life span; Intimate Relations: A typical Behavior; Reproductive Issues; Sexual Health and Illness; violence and Coercion, and Commercial Sex. Cross-listed with SOC-395.

AAM-3980 Readings (3)
This course is designed as an independent study for students to engage in selected readings/study in Africana Studies. Permission Required. Alternate Semesters.

AAM-4000 Field Service (1-3)
This course is designed to provide students with opportunities to engage in a field study experience within the African American community or with agencies and institutions that impact or serve African American communities. Students will be encouraged to select placement in experiences that will provide a meaningful understanding of the specific population(s) served as well as the cultural contexts of the African American.

AAM-4200  History of African American Cinema (3)                                                                                                         This course traces the history of African-Americans in the motion picture industry from early stages of silent films to the Academy Awards.  Topics of discussion will cover "black-face" minstrel stereotypes, wages, social and political opposition, organizing for representation, Blaxploitation era, inter-racial casting and subject matter, and documentary films.  A comparative study of Hollywood versus the Independent Filmmaker will take a close look at "Race Movies" and the first African-American film companies.  Students gain an understanding of how film and television mediums manipulate viewing audiences by creating one-dimensional characters of African-Americans, which leave lasting impressions whether negative or positive.

AAM-4330  Psychology of Oppression  (3)
The course teaches students how to understand the mechanisms that undermine the appreciation of multiculturalism and other forms of diversity in society. The perspective emphasizes how socially constructed definitions of various groups are used to distinguish sameness and difference among people. Topics include micro and macro level theories of oppression, the importance of ideology in oppressive systems and theories of social change and liberation. Crosslisted with PSYA-433 and satisfies cultural diversity requirement.

AAM-4900 Black Women in Society (3)
This course is designed to provide and interdisciplinary approach for the study of the Africana women in the context of a changing society and the impact of the context from social, historical, cultural, political, and economic perspectives. Attention will be devoted to and examination of the relationships that have emerged between systems and as a result of societal conditions. This course will examine the impact of the diasporas upon the lives of Africana women from infancy to aging. Alternate Spring Semesters.

Required for students completing the certificate. This synthesizing course provides an opportunity to integrate key concepts of African American Studies in a specific area of interest. Capstone projects are expected to demonstrate competence in critical thinking, inquiry skills and the synthesis of knowledge through original research, field service project or artistic endeavor. Permission of program director required.

AAM-4980 Advanced independent Study: Research (3)
Independent study topics are assigned that deal with selected problems in the African, African American or Caribbean experience. Research topics may be integrated with student's major. This course will serve as the capstone course for students pursuing the certificate in African American Studies. Every Semester. Permission Required.

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