Department of African American Studies


Christopher Tinson, Ph.D.
     Department Chair


African American Studies at SLU carries on a tradition of scholarly engagement that began in the early 20th century. The discipline of African American Studies comprises critical, systematic engagement with historical, cultural, political, and social experiences of people of African descent in the United States. 

While our work centers on U.S.-based experiences, we are equally concerned with the global presence of African descendants. African American experiences are therefore viewed within an expansive diasporic context. Importantly, this work requires interrogation of the racial, ethnic, gender, and class dynamics that enrich African diasporic experience and scholarship. 

Our students, staff, and faculty come from a range of backgrounds, experiences, and fields of study. Collectively, our mission is to combine rigorous study, creativity, and research in the production and exchange of knowledge concerning Africa and its Diaspora. 

We aim to foster a community of thinkers, scholars, activists, and artists whose work enriches understanding of how African Americans and other African Diasporic communities have mutually shaped the social worlds they inhabit.  

Olubukola Gbadegesin, Ph.D.
Katrina T. Moore, Ph.D.
Clarise Thomas, Ph.D.
Christopher Tinson, Ph.D.


AAM 2000 - Freedom Dreams: Intro to African American Studies

Credit(s): 3 Credits

The interdisciplinary study of African descendants (also known as Black Studies, Africana Studies or African Diasporic studies) has transformed the teaching of US and global history and politics. How has race, gender, class and capitalism impacted the evolution of Africana Studies? What methodologies have scholars utilized in the study of Black populations? This course invites engagement with Africana scholars, philosophies, and political mobilization. We will utilize history, literature, music, visual art and other modes in our exploration. This course will introduce students to the core concepts and debates that comprise Africana Studies.

Attributes: African American Studies, Global Citizenship (CAS), Global Local Justice-Domestic, Service Learning, Core:Identities in Context, Urban Poverty - Exclusion, Diversity in the US (A&S)

AAM 2010 - Contemporary Black America

Credit(s): 3 Credits

A study into the current issues and problems facing and impacting the African American society from the 1960's through today. This course also examines the present leadership in Black America and delves into a treatment of future directions and problems facing the society. Spring semester.

Attributes: Global Local Justice-Elective, Service Learning, Urban Poverty - Exclusion, Diversity in the US (A&S)

AAM 2120 - Survey of Art in Africa since Prehistory

Credit(s): 3 Credits

This course explores visual culture in Africa from prehistory through present-day. We will look at rock art, ancient Nubia, the nomadic Wodaabe, Christian Ethiopia, and various sub-Saharan cultures. Students will learn about architecture, ceramics, textiles, metal arts etc. Students graded on two Exams and two short quizzes.

Attributes: Fine Arts Requirement (CAS), Global Citizenship (CAS), International Studies

AAM 2220 - Introduction to African-American Art

Credit(s): 3 Credits

We discuss visual art created by African-American artists from 1600s to present-day. We cover the themes, artists, and artworks from important movements like the Harlem Renaissance, WPA period, and Black Arts Movement, etc. Students graded on four short formal analysis papers and a final project.

Attributes: Fine Arts Requirement (CAS), Diversity in the US (A&S)

AAM 2320 - Art of the African Diaspora

Credit(s): 3 Credits

This course asks students to consider the role of art, visual culture, and visuality in how people of African descent came to think of themselves as a group, across global geographic locations (nationalities) and based on shared histories of dispersal, as well as interdependent/interrelational claims to ethnicity, religion, and race. Over the semester, we will discuss the visual arts (such as painting, sculpture, mixed media), performing arts, architectural forms, and cultural movements produced by people of African descent from 19th century through the present-day in the UK, Brazil, the US, the Caribbean, & Africa.

Attributes: African American Studies, Fine Arts Requirement (CAS), Global Citizenship (CAS), Core:Identities in Context

AAM 2500 - Intergroup Dialogue

Credit(s): 3 Credits

In a culturally and socially diverse society discussion of differences is needed to facilitate understanding and build relationships among people. Intergroup dialogue is designed to provide a space for such discussion and for learning about issues of difference, conflict and community through dialogue. Through this course students will explore their own and others' perspectives from the practice of dialogue. Students will also explore ways of taking action to create change and bridge differences at both the interpersonal and the social/community levels. In-class learning will be enhanced through readings, films, weekly journal writing, a final reflection paper and in-class activities designed to develop competence in dialogue facilitation.

Attributes: Social Science Req (A&S), Urban Poverty - Exclusion, Diversity in the US (A&S)

AAM 2520 - Intro to African Politics

Credit(s): 3 Credits

A study of governments and political processes. Examines salient themes such as the nature of African traditional heritage; colonial experience; nationalism and independence; the challenge of nation building; African political parties; role of the military and contributions of difference theories to the understanding of African politics. Offered every third semester.

AAM 2570 - Race, Gender, and Health Care

Credit(s): 3 Credits

This course uses a multidisciplinary perspective to examine unequal access to and treatment by the health care system in the U.S. Without discounting other social identities, we will focus on race/ethnicity and gender as major determinants of people's disparate experiences with health care. The course will analyze aspects of the health care system that routinely give rise to these experiences, and examine how they help produce and perpetuate racial and gender inequality. The course will also raise questions about what counts as justice and individual rights, and discuss current policies and conditions through an ethical lens. (Offered occasionally)

AAM 2900 - Intergroup Dialogue: Black Male Identity

Credit(s): 3 Credits

This course deconstructs notions of the black male identity. Intergroup Dialogue is designed to provide a space for difficult discussions and for learning about issues of difference, conflict, and community through dialogue. Students will learn how to create change and bridge differences at both the interpersonal and the social/community levels. Students will be admitted upon the completion of a brief survey and with the approval of the professor.

Attributes: Urban Poverty - Exclusion, Diversity in the US (A&S)

AAM 2930 - Special Topics

Credit(s): 0-3 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

AAM 2980 - Independent Study

Credit(s): 1-3 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

Independent study topics are assigned which deal with selected problems in the African America experience. Offered every semester.

AAM 3200 - Cultures of the African Diaspora

Credit(s): 3 Credits

This course will deepen students’ knowledge of the African diaspora through the study of what some scholars have called “Africanisms,” a broad term that seeks to capture the wide array of technical skills, artistic practices, religious and spiritual beliefs, philosophies, linguistic patterns, and epistemologies that derive from the African continent and take root around the world. Though many of these practices continue in the present day, they are as likely to be found throughout the African diaspora in places such as the Panamanian city Colón, the Brazilian state of Bahia, and New York City as they are in Africa.

Attributes: Social Science Req (A&S), Urban Poverty - Exclusion

AAM 3240 - History of Africa since 1884

Credit(s): 3 Credits

Examines political, economic, and social developments in Africa since 1884. Includes European scramble for and partition of Africa; African initiatives and reaction to imposition of colonial rule; the colonial state and history of colonial rule; independence movements; Nationalism and nation building.

AAM 3270 - Dismantling Oppression: Exploring Equity & Inclusion

Credit(s): 3 Credits

The course is an examination of social justice activities that seek to expose barriers created towards a realization of a more equal and just society, The focus is on differences and similarities in the experiences, needs and beliefs of people and includes perspectives on discrimination and oppression based on race, gender, class, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, mental and physical disability, and/or spiritual orientation. This course focuses on human diversity within the context of anti-oppression framework in social work. Course also addresses how group membership affects access to resources, services and opportunities and relates to risk factors for specific population groups. (Offered in Fall)

Attributes: Urban Poverty - Exclusion

AAM 3300 - African American Lit Trad

Credit(s): 3 Credits

AAM 3310 - Intercultural Communication

Credit(s): 3 Credits

Introduces the role of culture in the process of human interaction and encourages in-depth analysis of the unique challenges posed by inter-cultural encounters. Develops a better understanding of culture and the many ways in which it influences interaction between individuals and groups.

Prerequisite(s): CMM 1000

Attributes: African American Studies, International Studies, International Studies-Arts, Women's & Gender Studies

AAM 3330 - African Diaspora Writing

Credit(s): 3 Credits

An introduction to the fiction and poetry of Black African & African-American writers.

Attributes: African American Studies

AAM 3350 - African American Religious Traditions

Credit(s): 3 Credits

The purpose of this class is to expose the student to the historical and social nature of African American Religion. The course will cover the historical development of African American Religion from its African origins up to and including the Civil Rights Movement with some attention given to contemporary black liberation theology. Fall semester.

Attributes: African American Studies, Catholic Studies-Elective

AAM 3360 - Race & Ethnicity

Credit(s): 3 Credits

Examines the impact of racial, cultural, national, and religious differences on social processes. Emphasis on current data.

AAM 3610 - Civil Rights in America

Credit(s): 3 Credits

The course examines the struggle to secure basic civil rights and civil liberties for African-Americans. This course examines the socio-economic, political and legal developments which brought about racial segregation and the institutional efforts to dismantle Jim Crow Society. Special attention will be given to the modern civil rights organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Students Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) which lead the civil rights struggle.

Attributes: African American Studies, Upper-Division US History, Core:Identities in Context, Urban Poverty - Applied, Urban Poverty - Social Justice, Diversity in the US (A&S)

AAM 3910 - Internship

Credit(s): 1-6 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

AAM 3913 - Atlas Internship

Credit(s): 1-6 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

In this internship, students collaborate to coordinate SLU’s Atlas Program. The goal of the program is to increase awareness of contemporary global injustices and educate students of the responsibilities of global citizenship. The internship is designed to empower students to become effective leaders of social change. Permission of Instructor required.

AAM 3930 - Special Topics

Credit(s): 1-3 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

AAM 3980 - Independent Study

Credit(s): 1-3 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

AAM 4000 - Field Service - Community Activism in St. Louis High Schools

Credit(s): 3 Credits

In collaboration with the Urban Financial Services Coalition, students will engage with finance professionals to assist in a financial literacy program.   After four weeks of teaching at local high schools on money management, students will prepare presentations on topics that range from college 101, African American History and Studies.

Attributes: Urban Poverty - Exclusion

AAM 4200 - History of African American Cinema

Credit(s): 3 Credits

Traces the history of African-Americans in the motion picture industry. Topics cover “black-face” minstrel stereotypes, wages, social and political opposition, organizing for representation, Blaxploitation, inter-racial casting and subject matter, and documentaries. A comparative study of Hollywood versus the Independent Filmmaker looks at 'Race Movies' and the first African-American film companies. Cross-listed with FSTD 4200.

AAM 4320 - Communication Across Racial Divisions

Credit(s): 3 Credits

AAM 4330 - Psychology of Oppression

Credit(s): 3 Credits

The course teaches students how to understand the mechanisms that undermine the appreciation of multiculturalism and other forms of diversity in society. The perspective emphasizes how socially constructed definitions of various groups are used to distinguish sameness and difference among people. Topics include micro- and macro-level theories of oppression, the importance of ideology in oppressive systems, and theories of social change and liberation. This course will satisfy the Cultural Diversity component of the Arts and Sciences Core.

Attributes: African American Studies, BHS-Social Sciences, International Studies, Urban Poverty - Social Justice, Diversity in the US (A&S), Women's & Gender Studies

AAM 4340 - African American Psychology

Credit(s): 3 Credits

This course reviews some of the theoretical perspectives in the psychological study of African Americans, examines some of the biases in past research, reviews current research in the field, and applies current theory and research to other areas of psychology.

Prerequisite(s): PSY 1010

Attributes: African American Studies, Diversity in the US (A&S)


Credit(s): 3 Credits

AAM 4800 - Civil Rights Era/Leaders

Credit(s): 3 Credits

This course is designed to provide an interdisciplinary analysis of the contemporary Civil Rights Movement and the leadership that emerged. The course will examine selected primary works of the local and national events of the 1950's to 1970's. Students will engage in oral history interviews to collect local history. Offered occasionally.

AAM 4810 - Philosophy and Race

Credit(s): 3 Credits

A critical examination of the philosophical bases of multiculturalism; the biological and socio-cultural significance of race; varied philosophical approaches to racial identity; the epistemic and ethical dimensions of interracial interpretation and prejudice; and the questions posed about the philosophical tradition by its relationship to victims of racial prejudice.

Attributes: African American Studies, Urban Poverty - Social Justice, Diversity in the US (A&S)

AAM 4830 - Post 1900 African American Literature

Credit(s): 3 Credits

An exploration of African American writings from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present through a reading of a variety of literary, critical, and historical texts from the Harlem Renaissance to Afro-centrism.

Attributes: Urban Poverty - Exclusion

AAM 4900 - Black Women in Society

Credit(s): 3 Credits

This course is designed to provide an interdisciplinary approach for the study of Black women in a changing society and the impact of social, historical, cultural, political, and economic forces. Attention will be devoted to Black women's relationships as a result of societal conditions. Fall Semester.Cross-listed with WGST 4800.

Attributes: African American Studies, Urban Poverty - Exclusion, Diversity in the US (A&S)

AAM 4910 - Internship

Credit(s): 1-6 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

AAM 4930 - Special Topics

Credit(s): 1-3 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

AAM 4960 - Capstone Course

Credit(s): 3 Credits

This synthesizing course provides an opportunity to integrate key concepts of African American Studies in a specific area of interest. Capstone projects are expected to demonstrate competence in critical thinking, inquiry skills, and the synthesis of knowledge through original research or field service project or artistic endeavor. Offered every semester.

Prerequisite(s): AAM 4790

AAM 4970 - Research Methods in African American Studies

Credit(s): 3 Credits

Through the reading of major scholarly monographs and articles, students will learn and analyze methodological approaches to African American Studies. Students will then design independent research projects utilizing methodologies appropriate to the field. This course is open to African American Studies majors and by permission of the instructor.

AAM 4980 - Advanced Independent Study: Research

Credit(s): 3 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

Independent study is conducted in select topics that deal with the African, African American, or Caribbean experience.

Prerequisite(s): (Minimum Earned Credits of 60)

AAM 5930 - Special Topics

Credit(s): 3 Credits (Repeatable for credit)

AAM 5980 - Independent Study

Credit(s): 1 or 3 Credits (Repeatable for credit)