African Studies Program

"We're not just a group of scholars who happen to be located in one place; we're a real community of people who share a vision for making Africa better known and better understood."
-- Rowland Abiodun, Amherst College

The Five College Certificate in African Studies offers students an opportunity to pursue an interest in African studies as a complement to any academic major.

Drawing on the expertise and courses offered by more than 50 faculty members across the five campuses, students pursuing the Five College African Studies certificate work closely with a faculty advisor to plan a uniquely tailored course of study.

On This Page


Rowland Abiodun

Black Studies; Art and Art Studies
Office: 107 Cooper House
Telephone: (413) 542-5801

Rhonda Cobham-Sander

English; Black Studies
Office: 102 Cooper House
Telephone: (413) 542-5832

headshot of Agnes Kimokoti

Agnes Kimokoti

Five College Center for the Study of World Lanuages
79 South Pleasant Street, Suite 100
Amherst, MA
Telephone: (413) 559-5264

headshot of Sean Redding

Sean Redding*

History; Black Studies
Office: 25 Chapin Hall
Telephone: (413) 542-2032
*Certificate Advisor

headshot of olufemi vaughan

Olufemi Vaughan

Black Studies
Office: 109 Cooper House
Telephone: (413) 542-5516

headshot of Nell Arnold

Nell Arnold*

Anthropology, Literary Arts, and African Studies
Office: Writing Center
*Certificate Advisor

headshot of frank homquist

Frank Holmquist

Professor Emeritus

headshot of Lynda Pickbourn

Lynda Pickbourn*

Office: Franklin Patterson Hall
*Certificate Advisor

headshot of Sarah Adelman

Sarah Adelman

Office: Skinner Hall 123
Telephone: (431) 538-2495

headshot of Catherine Corson

Catherine Corson

Environmental Studies
Office: Clapp 325
Telephone: (413) 538-3458

headshot of Samba Gadijo

Samba Gadjigo

Office: 22 Ciruti Center
Telephone: (413) 538-2255

headshot of Holly Hanson

Holly Hanson

Professor Emerita (History)
Office: 314 Skinner Hall
Telephone:(413) 538-2094

headshot of Girma Kebbede

Girma Kebbede

Geology and Geography
Office: Clapp Lab 328
Telephone: (413) 538-2004

headshot of John Lemly

John Lemly

Professor Emeritus

headshot of Olabode Omojola

Olabode Omojola*

Office: 209 Pratt Hall
Telephone: (413) 532-0595
*Certificate Advisor

headshot of Preston Smith

Preston Smith II

Office: Shattuck 214
Telephone: (413) 538-3528

headshot of Jeffrey Ahlman

Jeffrey Ahlman*

Office: Nelson Library A/09
Telephone: (413) 585-3731
*Certificate Advisor

headshot of Elliot Fratkin

Elliot Fratkin

Professor Emeritus (Anthropology)
Office: 107 Wright Hall
Telephone: (413) 585-3338

headshot of Dawn Fulton

Dawn Fulton

French Studies
Office: 123 Wright Hall
Telephone: (413) 585-3376

headshot of Colin Hoag

Colin Hoag

Office: Hillyer Hall 309
Telephone: (413) 585-3126

headshot of Caroline Melly

Caroline Melly

Telephone: (413) 585-3500

headshot of Albert Mosley

Albert Mosley

Professor Emeritus (Philosophy)
Office: Dewey Hall 5
Telephone: (413) 585-3652

headshot of Katwiwa Mule

Katwiwa Mule

Comparative Literature
Office: Wright Hall 227
Telephone: (413) 585-3355

headshot of Lucy Mule

Lucy Mule

Education & Child Study
Office: Morgan Hall
Telephone: (413) 585-3263

headshot of Marilyn Sylla

Marilyn Sylla

Five College Dance Department (Emerita)
Office: Berenson Studio 1

headshot of Gregory White

Gregory White

Government, African Studies
Office: 10 Prospect Street
Telephone: (413) 585-3542

headshot of Louis Wilson

Louis Wilson

Professor Emeritus (Afro-American Studies)
Office: Wright Hall 213
Telephone: (413) 585-3573

headshot of Judyie Al-Bilali

Judyie Al-Bilali

Office: Fine Arts Center 112

headshot of Joye Bowman

Joye Bowman*

Office: Herter 618
Telephone: (413) 545-1330
*Certificate Advisor

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John Bracey

Afro-American Studies
Office: 327 New Africa House
Telephone: (413) 545-1330

headshot of Stephen Clingman

Stephen Clingman

Office: 264 Bartlett Hall
Telephone: (413) 545-3474

headshot of Carlene Edie

Carlene Edie*

Political Science
Office: Thompson 206
Telephone: (413) 545-6172
*Certificate Advisor

headshot of David Evans

David Evans

Professor Emeritus

headshot of John Higginson

John Higginson

Professor Emeritus (History)
Office: 705 Herter Hall
Telephone: (413) 545-1920

headshot of Kathryn Lachman

Kathryn Lachman

Languages, Literatures, & Cultures
Office: 319 Herter Hall
Telephone: (413) 545-6703


Mzamo P. Mangaliso

Isenberg School of Management
Office: Isenberg 219C
Telephone: (413) 545-5698

headshot of Patrick Mensah

Patrick Mensah

French, Italian Studies
Office: 323 Herter Hall
Telephone: (413) 545-6716


Jacqueline Mosselson

The Center for International Education
Office: Hills South
Telephone: (413) 545-4696


Léonce Ndikumana

Economics, Political Economy Research Institute
Office: Thompson Hall
Telephone: (413) 545-6359


Frederic Schaffer

Political Science
Office: Thompson 324
Telephone: (413) 545-0725


Amilcar Shabazz

Afro-American Studies
Office: 324 Africa House
Telephone: (413) 545-2751


Demetria Shabazz

Office: 408 Machmer Hall
Telephone: (413) 545-4276


Lindiwe Sibeko

Office: 204 Chenoweth Laboratory
Telephone: (413) 545-1693


William Strickland

Professor Emeritus


Mwangi wa Gĩthĩnji

Office: Thompson 902
Telephone: (413) 545 1373


Students interested in the Five College African Studies Certificate should contact one of the African Studies faculty members on their campus and submit a Student Interest Form as soon as possible to begin planning course work. With your African Studies advisor, you select courses to meet the certificate program requirements.

In the senior year, students complete the Certificate Completion Form (below) in consultation with a program advisor on their campus, attaching an unofficial transcript acquired from the registrar. On the recommendation of the campus advisor, certificate requirements are reviewed and approved by a committee composed of program advisors from each of the five campuses.

Certificate Requirements

A. Six courses, chosen from at least four different departments, programs, or disciplines. The six courses should carry a total of at least 18 credits. Of the six courses, not more than two may carry less than two credits. The content of each course should be at least 50% devoted to Africa per se.
  1. Historical Overview. Minimum of one course providing historical perspective on Africa. Not limited to courses offered in History. (Normally the course should offer at least a regional perspective.)
  2. Social Science. Minimum of one course on Africa in the social sciences (i.e., Anthropology, Archeology, Economics, Geography, Political Science, Sociology).
  3. Arts and Humanities. Minimum of one course on Africa in the fine arts and humanities (i.e., Art, Folklore, History, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Religion).

B. Language Requirement: Proficiency through two semesters in college in an indigenous or colonial language of Africa other than English. This requirement may be met by examination or course work; such language courses may not count toward the six courses required in Section A.

For more information about language study opportunities, see Languages in the Five Colleges.

C. Further Stipulations:

  1. No more than three courses in any one department or program may count toward the six required in Section A.
  2. A certificate candidate may present courses taken in Africa, but normally at least three of the required courses must be taken in the Five Colleges.
  3. A candidate must earn a grade of B or better in every course for the certificate; none may be taken on a pass/fail basis.
  4. Unusual circumstances may warrant substituting certificate requirements; therefore a candidate through her/his African Studies Faculty Advisor may petition the Faculty Liaison Committee (the Five College committee of certificate program advisors) at least one full semester before graduation for adjustments in these requirements. A successful petition will satisfy the interdisciplinary character of the certificate program.

D. Recommended Actions:

  1. Students are encouraged to spend one semester or more in Africa. Information about study abroad and other opportunities is available through the international program office at each campus.
  2. Students are encouraged to complete their certificate program with an independent study project that integrates and focuses their course work in African studies.


    Note that if you don't see classes from all campuses currently listed, they will appear as the campuses release their course schedules for the semester. The five campuses release their schedules on different dates. Visit this page for specific dates.

    Fall 2023 African Studies Courses

    Subject Course # Sect # Course Title Instructor(s) Institution Meeting Times
    BLST 111 01 Intro to Black Studies Jared Loggins Amherst College TU/TH | 2:30 PM - 3:50 PM
    BLST 121 01 Colnl & Pst Colnl Afric Sean Redding Amherst College M/W | 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM
    BLST 221 01 Black/White in the South Elizabeth Herbin-Triant Amherst College M/W | 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM
    BLST 326 01 Diamonds in African Hist Sean Redding Amherst College TU/TH | 10:00 AM - 11:20 AM
    HIST 181 01 Colnl & Pst Colnl Afric Sean Redding Amherst College M/W | 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM
    HIST 326 01 Diamonds in African Hist Sean Redding Amherst College TU/TH | 10:00 AM - 11:20 AM
    CSI 0106 1 The Global Middle Ages Jutta Sperling Hampshire College 07:40PM-09:00PM TU;07:40PM-09:00PM TH
    CSI 0249 1 Anthropologies of Climate Chan Nathalie Arnold Hampshire College 02:30PM-03:50PM TU;02:30PM-03:50PM TH
    HACU 0258 1 Movement and Forms Vick Quezada Hampshire College 09:00AM-11:50AM M;09:00AM-11:50AM W
    ECON 213 01 Economic Development Johannes Norling Mount Holyoke College TTH 10:30AM-11:45AM
    FREN 219 01 French Speaking World Samba Gadjigo Mount Holyoke College MW 11:30AM-12:45PM
    MUSIC 161 01 Beg.West African Drumming Ens. Faith Conant Mount Holyoke College T 05:00PM-07:00PM
    MUSIC 226 01 World Music Olabode Omojola Mount Holyoke College MW 01:45PM-03:00PM
    MUSIC 261 01 Int. West African Drumming Ens Faith Conant Mount Holyoke College T 07:00PM-09:00PM
    DAN 142wa 01 T-West African Dance Alpha Kaba Smith College TU TH 4:10 PM - 5:25 PM
    GOV 247 01 Internatnl Relations in Africa Anna Kapambwe Mwaba Smith College W 1:20 PM - 2:35 PM; M 1:40 PM - 2:55 PM
    WLT 205 01 Contemp African Lit & Film Katwiwa Mule Smith College M W 10:50 AM - 12:05 PM
    COMP-LIT 355 01 Modern African Literature Kathryn Lachman UMass Amherst TU TH 11:30AM 12:45PM
    COMP-LIT 752 01 Theory & Practice of Comp. Lit Rachel Green UMass Amherst TU TH 1:00PM 2:15PM
    FRENCHST 388 01 Franc Civ Outside Fr Patrick Mensah UMass Amherst TU TH 1:00PM 2:15PM
    FRENCHST 564 01 Lit Africa & Carib Patrick Mensah UMass Amherst TU TH 1:00PM 2:15PM
    HISTORY 161 01 Hst-Africa Snc 1500 Anotida Chikumbu UMass Amherst M W 4:00PM 5:15PM
    HISTORY 161 02 Hst-Africa Snc 1500 Elizabeth Jacob UMass Amherst TU TH 2:30PM 3:45PM
    POLISCI 343 01 Gov&Pol East Africa Carlene Edie UMass Amherst TU TH 11:30AM 12:45PM

    African Languages offered by the Five College Center for World Languages

    Swahili students in class


    Beginning, intermediate, and advanced courses are available every semester. Courses include individual tutorials and small group conversation sessions. Sessions meet on all five campuses and are individually scheduled. Instructor: Dr. Agnes Kimokoti (pictured).

    Swahili student in class

    Afrikaans, Amharic, Twi, Wolof, Yoruba

    Supervised independent study courses. Beginning and intermediate courses are available. Courses include small group conversation sessions led by native/fluent conversation partners. Sessions meet on the home campus of the conversation partner and are individually scheduled. The availability of languages may vary, and other languages may be added.

    Language Center conversation partner talking to student

    Egyptian Arabic, Moroccan Arabic

    Supervised independent study courses. Prerequisite: Two semesters of Modern Standard Arabic or the equivalent. Courses include small group conversation sessions led by native/fluent conversation partners. Sessions meet on the home campus of the conversation partner and are individually scheduled.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    On each of the campuses of the five college consortium (except Hampshire College), all students are required to develop a major in one particular field and then to complement that with courses drawn from other subjects. Often, the choice of those other courses is dictated by college requirements or by what is available at particular times. The African Studies Certificate Program is not another major, but it represents an important way for students to bring intellectual coherence to selecting courses outside their own majors. Further, by focusing intensely on the continent of Africa, students develop a keen appreciation of the rich connections between history, politics, economics, cultures, and the humanities.
    Those students in the past who have earned the certificate point with pride and satisfaction to having selected a group of courses whose focus is Africa, and they have found the possession of the certificate to be a distinct advantage for getting into graduate school or for employment.

    You will need to complete at least 18 credits in various courses which focus on Africa, and you need to demonstrate that you have a working knowledge of a language of Africa either indigenous or official (other than English).

    No campus of the Five Colleges has sufficient teaching resources on Africa to enable you to complete the certificate program, but taken together, the five campuses provide one of the richest resources of African Studies expertise and courses anywhere in America. You will likely need to take courses on at least one campus other than your own in order to complete the certificate program.
    Since the mid-1980s, faculty in the Five Colleges with Africa interests have been part of the Five College African Studies Council which coordinates offerings of Africa-related courses, supports the certificate program, and plans seminars, study-in-Africa opportunities, and visits to the area by African scholars and artists. One of the more significant achievements of the Council has been the development and management of the certificate program as a way to strengthen the intellectual accomplishments of students.
    When you graduate, having completed your baccalaureate degree, your official transcript will say, "Completed the requirements for the Five College African Studies Certificate."

    Each campus has African Studies Certificate Program faculty advisors who will help you set up your own personalized certificate program. There is no formal admissions process to the certificate program; all you need to do is to declare with a faculty African Studies advisor on your campus your intent to complete the certificate program and to submit the African Studies Certificate Student Interest Form. Characteristically, students take one or two courses on Africa and then decide to complete the program with course selection advice from an African Studies advisor.

    Contact Us

    Council Co-Chairs:

    Patrick Mensah, Associate Professor of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, UMass Amherst

    Nathalie (Nell) Arnold, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Literary Arts and African Studies, Hampshire College 

    Five College Staff Liaison:

    Ray RennardDirector of Academic Programs


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