Africana Studies Program History

Since 1981, The Africana Studies Program has provided a rigorous, engaging, and relevant learning environment for the study of Africa and the African Diaspora. The driving force behind the creation of this program was Professor Monroe Little. After completing his Ph.D. at Princeton University in 1977, Dr. Little joined the History Department in 1980. While the university offered some course work in Afro-American Studies and African Diaspora Studies, Professor Little quickly saw that their separation throughout various departments yielded small class numbers and offered competing demands for time and resources. In 1980, Dr. Little designed a program that has since come to be known as Africana Studies. Monroe Little was a trailblazer and institution builder, he became the Founding Director of the Africana Studies program and served in that role for 30 years until he stepped down in 2011.

Little Monroe headshot image

Monroe Little, Emeritus Professor

For more than 30 years, the goal of the Africana Studies Program has been to graduate well-prepared, confident students, to develop their minds and characters so that they might assume the highest responsibilities of local, national, and global leadership. The program encourages students of all races and ethnicities to think critically about the function of race within individuals, institutions, and societies to amplify awareness and action toward social justice and community service.

Students imageFrom the time of its inception in 1981 under Dr. Little, Africana Studies has been a program that invests in building leaders and constantly evolves its curriculum with an eye on the needs of the next generation. Examples of this attitude and engagement can be seen in the program’s wide variety of events, research practices, program initiatives, and community activities.