Africana / Black Studies

About the Africana / Black Studies Program

IMG 8811

Fostering Racial & Social Justice Conference: Niagara's Black Student Union students with keynote speaker Dr. Blanca Vega

The Africana/Black studies minor focuses on the diaspora of African-descended people and cultures. The sequencing of courses includes areas of study on the History of Africa, The African-American (USA and Canada) experience, both historically and in contemporary times, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Hispanic, and other cultures and descents of African peoples. The program offerings range across traditional fields of sociology, criminology, history, literature, political sciences, law, communications, and education.  

Overall, the Africana/Black studies minor seeks to provide Niagara University studies with a multidisciplinary and comparative framework through which to explore African diaspora. Generally, the minor is designed to introduce students to the history, culture and society, and political and economic conditions of Black people in Africa, the Americas, and elsewhere in the world; and to explore new approaches –  perspectives, analyses and interdisciplinary techniques– appropriate to the study of the Black experience.

Africana / Black Studies Minor Requirements

Students pursuing a minor in Africana/Black studies are required to take an introductory course, (ABS/HIS 105), four minor-related elective courses of their choosing, and satisfy the capstone practicum requirement explained below (ABS/HIS 493). Students may choose between two tracks: Domestic, which focuses on the African American experience; and Diaspora, which examines the roots of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and subsequent forced migration throughout the Atlantic World. Students wishing to complete this minor should consult with the Africana/Black studies minor coordinator. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in a community outreach internship in pursuit of this minor.

  1. ABS/HIS 105
  2. Four Relevant Minor Courses
    - Domestic Track (focusing on African American Experience)
    - Diaspora (Explores the roots of the transatlantic slave trade
  3. ABS/HIS 493 or Approved Capstone Option

Capstone Options

The capstone experience may be completed in conjunction with the department of the student’s major in one of four ways: 

  1. Through successful completion of ABS/HIS 493 Practicum in Africana Studies
  2. Through a co-op, independent study, or internship overseen by the department of the student’s major and approved by the Africana Studies program coordinator.
  3. Through an approved senior thesis or capstone project approved by the Africana Studies program coordinator (HIS 400).
  4. Through participation in a study abroad program approved by the Africana Studies program coordinator.

Core Courses

ABS/HIS 105*
This course introduces students to the history of Africans in the Diaspora from an interdisciplinary perspective. Topics include the origin of race, enslavement, dispersal to the Americas, traditional cultures and religions, subsequent cultures and practices of resistance, gender, family and communities. Additional topics that may be covered included: black-nationalism, racism, civil rights, classism, and policy (i.e. mass incarceration, the war on drugs)

ABS/HIS 493*
This course is the capstone course for the minor. The expectation is that all Africana Studies minors complete the capstone which will involve an internship experience in the surrounding community of Niagara Falls and/or Niagara County. The internship experience will focus on some dimension of community involvement that complements the courses completed for the minor. For example, a student with a minor in Africana/Black Studies might volunteer at the Underground Railroad Interpretive Center; while another student who focuses on contemporary problems might volunteer as a mentor in a local high school working with at-risk adolescents.