The Center for African Studies (CAS) promotes the study and research of Africa, especially the continent’s cultures and societies. We provide our learning community with opportunities to expand and widen their knowledge of Africa and foster a greater understanding of the world's second largest and most diverse continent. Students at the undergraduate and graduate levels interested in African studies can take advantage of a wide range of courses offered in the arts and sciences and the professional schools. Courses include Africa’s history, demography, culture, politics, economy, languages, religion and various aspects of development. Students can take courses with significant Africa content, pursue international credentials, and get involved in outside-the-classroom activities to enrich their understanding and appreciation of Africa. Such activities include study abroad in Africa and experiential and field based-learning in an African country, lecture series and conferences.
Our vision is to serve as the hub for all Africa-related education, research and service for scholars, students and faculty committed to the study of Africa and the African Diaspora and to foster authentic understanding of the continent and its many cultures and expressions.
Our logo is the West African symbol of knowledge, life-long education, and continued quest for knowledge. "He who does not know can know from learning."
What We Offer
We offer a wide range of multidisciplinary academic programs and activities aimed to educate and broaden public and scholarly awareness about the history and the continent’s cultures and societies, African experiences and African perspectives. The goal is to cultivate the next generation of African scholars, experts and leaders in African affairs, equipping them with the capacity to understand and interact with African affairs and perspectives, language skills and develop appreciation for diversity, other countries and cultures within the wider global context.
Since its establishment in 2001, CAS has grown into a robust program offering more than 100 courses on Africa, African languages and opportunities for field-based learning, research, study abroad and internships in Africa. We organize and offer outside the classroom educational activities and events to complement the curriculum and research for our faculty, students, staff and wider community interested in African Studies. Our programming includes:
- Let’s Talk Africa Series
- Critical Research on Africa Series
- Annual Spring Conference
- Student led events and activities
- Teaching Africa workshops
- Traveling seminars for United States educators to Africa
- Africa awareness outreach programs in schools and communities
- The Model African Union for High School students
- The Model African Union for Pitt students
- The African Studies Center Book Club
CAS offers both the Undergraduate and Graduate Certificates in African Studies designed for students interested in learning about Africa and expanding their knowledge and appreciation of an area of the world whose increasing importance cannot be overemphasized. The courses offered and the out of the classroom educational activities provide students with the opportunity to widen their perspectives of Africa’s social, cultural, political and economic systems and deepen their insights into the profound impact of African societies on countries around the world particularly the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Students have an opportunity for in-depth study in specific areas of their professional and research interests and explore the numerous programs available for studying abroad, service learning or internship in an African country. The overall experience that our students get in African Studies translates into a willingness to work with Africa and view Africa’s internal or external policies favorably in their job responsibilities. It helps them form a deep appreciation and understanding of Africa and prepares them for the future work in a global society.
CAS works in close partnership with many other academic units across campus including all of the University Center for International Studies academic centers and the academic departments (Africana Studies, history, linguistics, music, political science, among others) and the professional schools (GSPIA, education, law, public health, and engineering). The objective is to work together to provide a rich learning environment for students and other stakeholders interested in African Studies through scholarly activities on a broad range of topics that address contemporary African issues within the broader global context. We also collaborate with the Less Commonly Taught Languages Center in the Department of Linguistics to build and develop a strong language program.
CAS promotes opportunities for collaboration with partner institutions mainly in Africa. These partnerships are very important for the purpose of scholarship, research and exchanges for the benefit of faculty and students flowing in both directions (Pitt to Africa and Africa to Pitt). We currently enjoy strong partnerships with institutions in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. We are always seeking new opportunities to expand our partnerships to broaden options for our students and faculty.
Scholars from Africa
As part of our priority to build strong partnerships with institutions in Africa, we host visiting scholars from various countries in the continent. This is important because visiting scholars play an integral role through their research and teaching across the University. They enrich our community’s intellectual and research endeavors, international connections, and global perspectives. Most of our visiting scholars and researchers are junior or senior members of faculties in their respective countries; some may be involved in government service or doctoral or postdoctoral studies. They too benefit from an accommodating place to pursue their work and from an ability to exchange ideas with our faculty, other visiting scholars and neighboring institutions, our students, and the diverse Pittsburgh community. They are also a great resource to our community often invited to participate in our university activities such as:
- Deliver a formal lecture to the university community
- Participate in departmental or interdisciplinary program seminars
- Engage in formal or informal discussions with students
- Undertake collaborative research with faculty, students or staff
- Present guest lectures in classes
- Participate in international week events
- Visit schools and other community organizations
The Center for African Studies also engages the community through outreach activities to the schools, Teaching Africa workshops for educators, travel seminars in Africa for K-12 educators, and Africa awareness seminars in U.S. schools and communities. All of these community engagement initiatives involve faculty, students and community partners on projects that both have a positive impact and support opportunities for research, teaching and learning and preparing students to be informed and engaged citizens and leaders. Our outreach in particular aims to promote the teaching of Africa in our community schools encouraging the incorporation of Africa-related content in classrooms and to create a better understanding of Africa's people, diverse cultures, histories and economies. We encourage schools and community organizations to reach out to us if they are interested in partnering with us.