MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences - Great Ideas Change the World

Minor in African and African Diaspora Studies

The Honorable Barbara Jordan (1936-1996), photographed during the Watergate hearings in U.S. Senate, 1973. Jordan was a stateswoman, Member of the U.S. Congress from the 18th District of Texas, keynote speaker for the 1976 National Democratic Convention, orator, and defender of the U.S. Constitution.

"There was only one Barbara Jordan," said Eve Clayton, Representative from North Carolina, "and when she spoke—we listened. The world listened.” 

Recording: Barbara Jordan speaking on the extension of the Voting Rights Act


The Minor Program in African and African Diaspora Studies is designed for students interested in the cultures and experiences of the peoples of African descent on the continent, or elsewhere. The minor includes study of socio-economic and political systems as they reflect the African continent and/or areas of the African Diaspora, and the histories, languages and literatures of Africans and peoples of African decent elsewhere. All of Africa falls within the geographical scope of the minor. A student may concentrate on a particular region or on any of the broad groupings of African cultures, such as Arabic-speaking, Anglophone, Francophone, or Lusophone Africa. Equally, a student choosing to focus on the African Diaspora may concentrate on any group of African-descended populations in the Americas. 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 goal of the minor program is to emphasize the importance of Africa and people of African descent in world cultural, socio-economic, and social developments, and to provide a balance between language, humanistic, historical, and contemporary study.

The Minor Program in African and African Diaspora Studies 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

As with all HASS Minors, only five of the six minor subjects may be counted toward the eight-subject Institute HASS Requirement. Of these five, at most one shall count toward satisfaction of the HASS Distribution Requirement. Of the six subjects required for the minor, at least four must count only toward that minor (and not toward any other degrees, major or minor).




Students are expected to have two intermediate (Levels III and IV) subjects in either the 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.


Language subjects offered at MIT:


21G.303 French III, HASS-H

21G.304 French IV, HASS-H

21G.703 Spanish III, HASS-H

21G.704 Spanish IV, HASS-H

21G.803 Portuguese III, HASS-H

21G.804 Portuguese IV, HASS-H


Language subjects offered elsewhere:


Courses in African languages are available to our students at Harvard University and/or Wellesley College. Courses in African languages may be taken at other institutions with prior permission of the Advisor.


Areas II, III, IV:


At least four subjects are to be selected from at least two of the remaining areas. Where the exception in Area I applies, the student will take all six subjects from these three remaining areas, with at least one subject in each area.





21L.007 World Literatures, HASS-H, CI-H

21L.504J Race and Identity in American Literature [WGS.140], HASS-H

21M.030 Introduction to World Music, HASS-A, CI-H

21M.226 Jazz, HASS-A

21M.293 Music of Africa, HASS-A

21W.742J Writing About Race [WGS.231], HASS-H, CI-H

24.912J Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies [21A.125, 21H.106, 21L.008, 21W.741, WGS.190], HASS-A/HASS-H, CI-H

WGS.142 Narrative and Identity: Writing and Film by Contemporary Women of Color, HASS-H




17.523 Ethnic Conflict in World Politics, HASS-S

17.571 African Politics, HASS-S

24.908 Creole Languages and Caribbean Identities, HASS-S, CI-H

WGS.150 Gender, Power, Leadership, and the Workplace, HASS-S

WGS.225J The Science of Race, Sex, and Gender [21A.103, STS.046], HASS-S




21H.229 The Black Radical Tradition in America, HASS-H

21H.358 Colonialism in South Asian and African History, HASS-H

24.912J Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies [21A.125, 21H.106, 21L.008, 21W.741, WGS.190], HASS-A/HASS-H, CI-H

STS.048 African Americans in Science, Technology, and Medicine, HASS-H

STS.088 Africa for Engineers, HASS-H, CI-H

STS.089 Technology and Innovation in Africa, HASS-H


Courses offered elsewhere:

A substantial number of courses dealing with Africa and the African Diaspora are available to our students at Wellesley College, offered through their program in Africana Studies and other departments, and Harvard’s Department of African and African American Studies. Students may take relevant courses at these institutions provided they receive permission in advance from the HASS African and African Diaspora Studies Minor Advisor.


This list is not exhaustive. Relevant subjects that are no longer offered and subjects with variable topics (such as “special subjects” or “selected topics” courses, for example) may also be counted at the discretion of the minor advisor.

[ ] Jointly listed subjects


Additional information can be obtained from the Minor Advisor:
Professor Sandy Alexandre, 14N-422, x3-4450
Or from the Literature Office, 14N-407, x3-3581