Minor in African and African Diaspora Studies

The Minor in African and African Diaspora Studies is designed for students interested in the contributions, cultures, and experiences of the peoples of African descent on the African continent and across the Diaspora. The goal of the minor program is to emphasize the importance of Africa and people of African descent in world's cultural, economic, and social developments, and to provide a balance between language, humanistic, historical, and contemporary study. Building on MIT's strengths in understanding science and technology, the minor provides students the opportunity to study interactions of people of African descent with contemporary technology sectors such as digital media, artificial intelligence, aerospace, genetics, and climate mitigation efforts. The minor includes study of economic and political systems as they reflect the African continent and areas of the African diaspora, and the histories, languages, and literatures of Africans and peoples of African descent elsewhere.

All of Africa falls within the geographical scope of the minor. Students may concentrate on a particular region or on any of the broad groupings of African cultures, regions or language groups. Equally, students choosing to focus on the African diaspora may concentrate on African American studies or on any group of African-descended populations in the Americas or elsewhere — be it in the US, in the Caribbean, or anywhere else in the Americas and beyond. Students focusing on either principal area (Africa or the African diaspora) must also take at least one subject which deals with the other area or with interactions between them.

The minor consists of six subjects (at least three of which must be MIT subjects), arranged in four areas of study:

  • Area I: Language
  • Area II: Humanities and the Arts
  • Area III: Social Sciences
  • Area IV: Historical Studies

Subjects about Africa and the African diaspora, as well as subjects in indigenous African languages, are also available from Harvard University and Wellesley College through cross-registration. Students must receive permission from the minor advisor prior to registering for a class at another institution. 

Five of the six subjects taken for the minor may be counted toward the eight-subject HASS Requirement. Of these five, at most one may count toward the distribution component of the HASS Requirement. Of the six subjects required for the minor, at least four cannot be counted toward a major or another minor.

Area I: Language 1
Select one of the following:24
French III
and French IV
Spanish III
and Spanish IV
Portuguese III
and Portuguese IV
Two subjects at any level in an indigenous African language, or other non-English official language of the region of study
Select four subjects from at least two of the following areas 248
Area II: Humanities and the Arts
Select from among the following:
Global Africa: Creative Cultures
African Migrations
World Literatures
Race and Identity in American Literature
Introduction to Musics of the World
Music of Africa
Jazz Harmony and Arranging
Jazz Composition
Composing for Jazz Orchestra
MIT Senegalese Drum Ensemble
All the World's a Stage: Socio-Political Perspectives in Global Performance
Writing about Race
Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies
Narrative and Identity: Writing and Film by Contemporary Women of Color
Area III: Social Sciences
Select from among the following:
Human Rights at Home and Abroad
Law, Social Movements, and Public Policy: Comparative and International Experience
Race, Ethnicity, and American Politics
Ethnic Conflict in World Politics
Engineering Democratic Development in Africa
Violence, Human Rights, and Justice
Africa and the Politics of Knowledge
Creole Languages and Caribbean Identities
The Science of Race, Sex, and Gender
Psychology of Sex and Gender
Race, Culture, and Gender in the US and Beyond: A Psychological Perspective
Area IV: Historical Studies
Select from among the following:
A Survey of Modern African History
The Black Radical Tradition in America
Race, Crime, and Citizenship in American Law
Colonialism in South Asia and Africa: Race, Gender, Resistance
The Ghetto: From Venice to Harlem
Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies
African Americans in Science, Technology, and Medicine
Africa for Engineers
Women and Gender in the Middle East and North Africa
Total Units72

Students are expected to have two intermediate (Levels III and IV) subjects in French, Spanish, or Portuguese or two subjects at any level in an official language of the region of study or in an indigenous African language. In cases where the student is specializing in Anglophone Africa or an English-speaking region of the diaspora and does not undertake study of an indigenous language, or is a native speaker of the official language(s) of a country or region of emphasis, this component would be replaced by literature or other humanities subjects.


For students who are not required to take Area I subjects (see footnote 1 above), all six subjects for the minor must be taken from Areas II, III, and IV, with at least one subject from each area.

The subject list above is not exhaustive. Additional information can be obtained from the minor advisor, Professor Danielle Wood, Room E14-574N, 617-253-1631, or from the SHASS Dean's Office, Room 4-240, 617-253-3450.