History

The Harvard University Center for African Studies (CAS) serves as an intellectual hub, connecting students, faculty, and members of the wider Africanist community. Since its inception in 1969, the Center for African Studies has evolved from a small faculty group known as the Committee on African Studies into a robust, interdisciplinary body that has earned Harvard recognition as a National Resource Center from the U.S. Department of Education. Along with this national distinction, the most notable milestone on Harvard’s path to African Studies leadership was the generous and anonymous donation made in the fall of 2014, a donation that both secured African Studies as a Center at Harvard University and provided the initial seed money to launch the administrative operations of on the African continent.

As the University-wide nucleus for Africanists at Harvard and generator of numerous initiatives on campus and on the Continent, the Center for African Studies works with students and faculty from across the University to sponsor an array of high-impact and high-profile programs. These include study abroad and internship opportunities, inter-faculty research and publication initiatives, collaborative teaching and learning initiatives, institutional partnerships on the continent, transformative technology-based outreach efforts, and a wide range of on-campus seminars, workshops, and conferences.

Harvard University is one of the world’s foremost centers of learning on Africa. More than 100 Harvard faculty members conduct research and teach on topics related to Africa; more than 148 courses are taught on Africa-related themes and topics; and more than 73 scholars from Africa play an integral role through their research and teaching across the University. Harvard also boasts the world’s foremost African Language Program, with 43 African languages offered. Additionally, more than 150 Harvard students travel to Africa each summer to conduct research and engage in internships spanning the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

The Center for African Studies also works closely with Harvard’s two other key Africanist institutions: the Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences Department of African and African American Studies (AAAS) and the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research (HC). CAS, AAAS, and HC frequently collaborate to provide a wide-ranging and innovative Africanist offerings. AAAS can appoints faculty, confers undergraduate and graduate degrees, and offers inter-disciplinary Africa-related courses and African language classes. The Hutchins Center offers prestigious fellowships to Africanist scholars and practitioners, disseminates knowledge through publications and endowed lecture series, and hosts multiple Africa-related events.

For more information about the Center’s activities, please consult our events calendar. Students interested in pursuing a B.A. or a Ph.D. in African Studies should contact the Department of African and African American Studies.