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About Us


The mission of African American Studies (AAS) at the University of Houston is reflected in the larger vision of Black, Africana and African American Studies departments and programs and their commitment to the development of the knowledge of people of African descent in America throughout the greater Diaspora and on the continent. The program develops, promotes and enhances the knowledge and information of the discipline as well as the collective consciousness of African descended people, which will in turn lead to the growth and prosperity of strong communities and a powerful nation. AAS focuses upon the cultural and historical heritage of Africans on the continent, in America and throughout the greater Diaspora and their contributions to the world’s history and civilizations.

African American Studies is a distinct academic discipline that engages Africa-centered research and teaching through an interdisciplinary approach to scholarly inquiry. The term Africa-centered signifies that the epistemological starting point for scholarly analysis resides in the historical and cultural understanding that African people are people of the African continent regardless of the recency or geographical distance of their out migration from the African homeland.

Employing tools from the humanities and social sciences for academic study, research and teaching, African American Studies explores the varied dimensions of the human experience — that is, phenomena, ideas, events, peoples and personalities — from the perspective of the interests of African people in the United States and their relationship to themselves and to African and other peoples in the world.

Hence, the mission of African American Studies is to provide students with a comprehensive quality undergraduate and graduate education and the opportunity for a creative intellectual experience based on the critical and systematic study of the life, thought and practice of African peoples in their current and historical unfolding.

Interdisciplinary in both conception and practice, African American Studies seeks to critically examine and understand the African experience from an African-centered perspective, that is, from a position internal to the culture, joined with an openness and receptivity to the rich variety and instructiveness of the total human experience. African American Studies stresses comparative analysis and holistic thinking as indispensable to the discipline and the general educational enterprise.

Within this framework, the goals of African American Studies are:

  • To expand our degree offerings with the transition from a program to a tenure-granting department and recruit faculty to enable the department to grant a baccalaureate degree in the discipline at the University of Houston
  • To cultivate and increase the awareness of UH students to international and cultural pluralism and to stimulate their sensitivity to issues of culture, race, ethnicity, class and gender

  • To further internationalize the Africana Studies curriculum to include the study of African peoples in other parts of the world in addition to those on the continent and in the United States, i.e., in the Caribbean, Central and South America, Asia, Europe and the Pacific Rim

  • To encourage expanded scholarly productivity and professional activity by the department's faculty to maintain currency with the latest developments in the discipline and insure the highest levels of instruction and intellectual exchange

  • To increase the holding of conferences, seminars, colloquia and other fora devoted to the expansion of the discipline

  • To develop and maintain links with local high schools and community colleges

  • To maintain and strengthen existing links with the community through expanding joint educational and practical projects and exchanges

  • To increase the utility of academic service to Houston's African American community through research and publication on historical and public policy issues by means of The Black Houston History Project and the Institute for African American Policy Research

  • To expand and further consolidate the intellectual space of the discipline as an integral and indispensable part of the University's mission to offer a culturally pluralistic quality undergraduate and graduate education to its students