6: College of Arts and Sciences

General Information | Academic Information | Departments and Programs | Faculty

Afro-American and African Studies | Anthropology | Archaeology | Art | Asian and Middle Eastern
Asian Studies | Astronomy | Biology | Chemistry | Classics | Cognitive Science | Comparative Literature
Drama | Economics | English | Environmental Sciences | French | German | Government and Foreign Affairs
History | Latin American Studies | Linguistics | Mathematics | Medieval Studies
Middle East Studies | Music | Personal Skills | Philosophy | Physics | Political and Social Thought
Psychology | Religious Studies | Service Physical Education | Slavic | Sociology
Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese | Statistics | University Seminars | Women's Studies

Program in Afro-American and African Studies

Course Descriptions

Overview   Afro-American and African Studies (AAS) is an interdisciplinary program in which students examine various aspects of the black experience. The major consists of two core course requirements and seven area courses in the humanities and social sciences selected from the AAS Course Offering Directory, available in Minor Hall 108. The AAS program provides both a solid liberal arts education as well as broad exposure to African and African-American history and culture.

Faculty   The Afro-American and African studies faculty comprises professors in departments grounds-wide who teach courses directly related to topics in Afro-American and/or African studies. Departmental offerings vary from year to year, but currently these departments include: anthropology, art history, drama, economics, English, French, government and foreign affairs, history, linguistics, music, philosophy, psychology, religious studies, Slavic and sociology. Each year the AAS program also supports the teaching of special AAS seminars by visiting scholars.

The current steering committee for the AAS undergraduate program is as follows, with departmental affiliation: Scot French, Director of the AAS Program; Reginald Butler, history; Ellen Contini-Morava, anthropology; Scott DeVeaux, music; Gertrude Fraser, anthropology; William Johnson, economics; Adria LaViolette, anthropology; John Mason, history; Tejumola Olaniyan, English; Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton, religious studies; Benjamin Ray, religious studies; Milton Vickerman, psychology; and Melvin Wilson, psychology. These faculty are available as advisors to AAS majors and minors.

Students   There are approximately 50 undergraduates majoring in Afro-American and African Studies in a given year, quite a number of whom double-major with disciplines in the humanities or social sciences. Although there are distributional requirements within the AAS major, students have a great deal of freedom in shaping the major to reflect their particular area, topical, and disciplinary interests. Students also have ample opportunity for independent study with faculty members. In addition, some students study abroad in Africa or the Caribbean through the University or other programs, and receive credit in the AAS major for such experiences. Students minoring in AAS are usually those who are majoring in sciences, or are enrolled in non-College programs (in the schools of Architecture, Engineering and Applied Science, or Commerce).

Graduates with a degree in Afro-American and African Studies use their interdisciplinary training and skills as a basis for a wide variety of careers. Recent graduates are pursuing professions in such fields as law, international development, teaching, social work, small and corporate business, banking, and public administration. Every year AAS majors also begin graduate training, including M.A. and Ph.D. programs in the humanities and social sciences, law school, and medical school. Consider an AAS major a springboard from which anything is possible.

Special Resources
Carter G. Woodson Institute for Afro-American and African Studies   The Woodson Institute provides a home base and support for the AAS major. The institute is named after Virginia-born historian Carter Godwin Woodson, who played a pioneering role in the institutionalization of the study of the black experience, and founded and was editor of the Journal of Negro History from 1916 until his death in 1950. The Woodson Institute supports advanced research in black studies, every year providing pre- and post-doctoral fellowships to scholars from within and outside the University. The Woodson Fellows conduct research in Afro-American and/or African studies on the premises of the institute, and undergraduates should consider them a resource. The Woodson Institute also sponsors an annual lecture series on topics related to Afro-American and African studies, open to the university community and the public.

Requirements for Major   The Afro-American and African studies interdisciplinary major comprises 9 courses (29 credits) taken within a program approved by any member of the AAS steering committee, who acts as the student's advisor. These courses may include courses taken before declaration of the major. In order to declare a major, a student must have taken AAS 101 and AAS 102 and earned a grade of C or better in each course. Students must have an average of 2.0 in the major for it to be considered complete.

The major requires a distribution of courses in the following areas and levels, all to be selected from the AAS Course Offering Directory:

  1. AAS 101 and AAS 102 .
  2. One course concerning race and politics in the U.S.
  3. One course in the humanities (art history, drama, English, French, music, philosophy, religious studies).
  4. One course in the social sciences or history, in addition to AAS 101 102 (anthropology, economics, government and foreign affairs, history, linguistics, psychology, Slavic, sociology).
  5. One course about Africa, which may fulfill requirements (3) or (4) above.
  6. Four courses above the 300 level, which may fulfill requirements (2-5).
  7. One 400-level seminar requiring a research paper, which may count toward requirement (6) above.

Each semester the Carter G. Woodson Institute publishes a list of courses that satisfy the above requirements. Students should speak with an advisor if they have any questions about how to distribute the above courses.

Students frequently find that Afro-American and African studies works well as a double-major with another discipline in the humanities and social sciences. Up to 11 credits in another departmental major may count toward an AAS major, if the courses are among those listed in the AAS Course Offering Directory. Up to 6 transfer credits from relevant study abroad may be counted toward the major, with the advance written permission of the director of the major. Up to 3 credits of an appropriate language course may be counted toward the major.

Exceptions to any of these requirements is made only upon written petition to the director of the AAS major. No petitions are accepted after the completion of a student's seventh semester.

Requirements for Minor   A Minor in Afro-American and African Studies consists of the following:

  1. Completion of AAS 101 and AAS 102 with a grade of C or better in each course.
  2. Twelve credits beyond AAS 101 and 102 chosen from the AAS Course Offering Directory.
  3. An average of 2.0 in all courses counted under this requirement.

Independent Study   AAS 401 allows students to work on an individual research project. Students wishing to pursue this should pick up an informational sheet at the Woodson Institute which explains the procedure and requirements. Students must propose a topic to an appropriate faculty member, submit a written proposal for approval, prepare an extensive annotated bibliography on relevant readings comparable to the reading list of a regular upper-level course, and complete a research paper of at least 20 pages.

Distinguished Majors Program in Afro-American and African Studies   Third-year students with superior academic performance are encourage to apply for the AAS Distinguished Majors Program (DMP) in which they conduct research and write a thesis demonstrating originality and independent study of high quality. Participants are eligible for graduation with distinction. The requirements for admission to the DMP are as follows:

  1. Satisfaction of all College requirements as stated in the Undergraduate Record with a GPA of at least 3.4 in all university courses.
  2. Permission of an advisor. This person may be any faculty member who teaches courses listed in the AAS Course Offering Directory, willing to supervise the thesis. Permission should be sought no later than the second semester of the third year. The supervisor’s written approval of the topic must be secured by the students and filed at the Woodson Institute.
  3. Like the AAS Major, the DMP comprises 29 credits. Participants must fulfill the distribution requirements for the major (see requirements 1-5 for the major above). DMP participants must complete at least six credits of course work above the 400 level, in addition to the six credits specific to preparation of the thesis, outlined below.

Once the advisor has been secured, students should seek two additional faculty members who agree to read the thesis. The students register for three credits of AAS 451 (Directed Research) in the first semester of the fourth year. In this course, the students conduct research for, and write the first draft of, their thesis. In the second semester, students register for AAS 452 (Thesis) and revise the draft based on the committee’s recommendations, producing a finished thesis of about 8,000 words or 40 pages, which must be approved by the committee and deposited at the Woodson Institute. The thesis committee makes a recommendation to the AAS Steering Committee for final approval of the thesis. Students wishing help in setting up this program should see their advisor.

Additional Information   For more information, contact Scot French, Director of the Undergraduate Program in AAS, at the Carter G. Woodson Institute, 108 Minor Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903; (804) 924-3109.

Continue to: Course Descriptions
Return to: Chapter 6 Index