The Mission of Our Pedagogy
DAAS is a vibrant intellectual hub at the University of Michigan for the interdisciplinary study of Africa and its diaspora. Our core mission is to teach, inspire, enlighten, and challenge undergraduate students in this area of study. We teach about race, culture, and ethnicity as central contemporary and historical issues in the U.S. and the world. We offer a rich selection of opportunities for learning about the continent of Africa. We encourage independent and imaginative thinking in our students, preparing them to identify the contributions, as well as to confront the problems, of the African diasporic world. Students who take courses in our program come away with rich and varied understandings of African diasporic locations, experiences, and issues.
The Commitment of Our Faculty
Faculty members in DAAS conduct cutting edge interdisciplinary research focusing on the peoples of African descent, and on the contemporary sociocultural impact of their migrations in an era of globalization. DAAS faculty members are dedicated to offering students a unique classroom environment where serious discussions occur, characterized by intensity of thought, as well as openness, creativity, and civility. The curriculum, centered on the contrasting cultures and societies of African-descended people around the globe, provides students with the critical and analytical facility that is central to liberal arts, social science, and science training.
DAAS faculty members prepare our students to understand a changing world, in courses offering the best of humanities and social science education. In addition to selecting courses in history, literature, linguistics, anthropology, and the arts, students in DAAS may choose to study contemporary issues in professional fields such as public policy, urban planning education, environmental studies, information technology, and health sciences. Our undergraduates also have the opportunity to study abroad in Ghana, South Africa, or Burkina Faso, three programs which involve top faculty at both U-M and our partner institutions, providing a rigorous intellectual experience.
The Experience of Our Students
Time spent in the DAAS classroom and studies abroad sharpens our students’ thinking on the histories of racial formation and the current state of race relations, preparing them for a complex world in which an informed understanding of interethnic, interracial, and international relations is a necessary skill. Students leave DAAS prepared for a wide range of careers in the professions, the academy, and public service.
DAAS offers an undergraduate concentration, a minor concentration, and an honors program. For graduate and professional students across the university, DAAS offers a graduate certificate program with a focus on either African or African diaspora studies.
This is what some of our students are saying about DAAS:
My experience in DAAS has provided the support necessary to be successful at the University of Michigan. With DAAS as a home-base, I’ve had the opportunity to build a support system through faculty and staff who have helped guide me toward my goals. Now as a recent graduate from the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, I am eternally grateful for the loving encouragement I received from DAAS. Renee Pitter, LSA class of 2006; MPH class of 2009
The brilliant and dedicated faculty in DAAS are instrumental in cultivating the minds of the future leaders of the world. Throughout my time at the University of Michigan, my DAAS professors challenged me to further my thinking about pertinent world topics. The faculty shows a tremendous dedication to the personal and intellectual growth of its students, and in my experience they are truly some of the most knowledgeable and caring people that I know. The DAAS department certainly shaped my development as a student and also a critically thinking member of society. I can undoubtedly say that I would not be in Law School today without the aid and guidance of my DAAS professors. William Pope, III, LSA class of 2009
DAAS classes provided a wonderful mix of intellectual rigor and reflective dialogue. Grappling with the subjects and analysis DAAS offers opened me up to new ways of thinking and talking about the world in which I live. I very much enjoyed being able to engage in that process with other serious DAAS students. Nicole Lewis, LSA class of 2009
The DAAS experience is in a league of its own! Taking various classes in different sectors of the university made me realize the uniqueness of the DAAS department. The professors made me feel special. I not only got a great, diverse education from the classes, but from my professors, I obtained great role models and relationships that will last a lifetime. The dedication and open arms were all influential in my life, and the positive affirmations from the professors are still with me while I continue the next phase of my life. Kai Jenkins, LSA class of 2009