Courses & Requirements

Academic requirements and courses are listed in the Vassar College Catalogue and downloadable (60KB).

Courses in the Spotlight: Intensives in Action

Thinking Africa: Conversations on the Thought of Achille Mbembe

Spring 2021 Intensive

Patricia-Pia Célérier (French & Francophone Studies and Africana Studies) and Sam Opondo (Africana Studies and Political Science)

This co-taught Intensive examines Achille Mbembe’s multifaceted theoretical position as well as that of some of his interlocutors with a view to understanding what it means to read and write the world by thinking with and from Africa. As an extension of an ongoing effort to teach and invite African scholars, writers, and artists to Vassar, this year’s Intensive foregrounds some of the recent work from Mbembe’s broad corpus with attention to the intellectual genealogies behind it while connecting it to scholars whose work focuses on conditions of coloniality, post-coloniality, and decoloniality.

Conceived as a peer-to-peer, inter-disciplinary conversation across languages, genres, disciplines, and cultures, the Intensive is designed to have students participate in in-depth conversations with scholars and artists via Skype as well as bring noted scholars and artists to campus where they would give lectures as well as facilitate workshops with students and faculty.

AFRS-276-51: How to Write A Black Memoir

There have been moments in American history wherein there was a felt need among African-Americans to commit their life stories to print and circulate them among the public. The period before the Civil War and the decade surrounding the Civil Rights Act stand as the most prominent.

Black life writing, however, has remained a persistent expressive practice from the 18th century to the present…the genre has often functioned in ways both direct and not as means of combating the scurrilous claims about black character that supported white supremacy. These concerns continue to inspire writing in the present day, but are accompanied by an array of other issues such as sexuality, familial trauma, health and wellness, and wealth and poverty.

This intensive, focused on black writing, will pursue the dual objectives of critical reading and creative writing. Several accomplished black life writers will visit campus (virtually) to talk about their experiences with the genre.

My hope is for students to become familiar with the codes, tropes, and techniques of life writing well enough to understand them, analyze them and put in practice what they understand.

CLCS 121 – Anti-Racism, Equity & Justice: Activism and Learning

A full-credit Intensive for Fall 2020; Tuesdays 4–6 PM

This Intensive course offers a space for concentrated reflection on racism, white supremacy and the demands of contemporary antiracist movements, such as defunding the police and reparations. This is a small and unique forum in which we can engage with guest speakers from campus and our broader communities who have expertise in anti-racist facilitation. By centering and learning from those already doing abolitionist work, we can learn best practices for dialoguing with others about racism, reflecting honestly on privilege and intersectionality, and becoming accomplices rather than mere allies, all the while recognizing the long history of antiracist work that precedes us. Through check-ins and guided experiential activities, we build inclusive community with our peers; and through consultations with practitioners of radical, liberatory social justice technologies, we explore vulnerability and self-love as foundations for anti-racist work. In addition to reading Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow), Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility), Ibram X. Kendi (How to Be an Antiracist), and Jasmine Syedullah (Radical Dharma), we will interface with the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond and their Undoing Racism program. The explorations of our social, assigned identities and the networks of power and privilege in which they operate are enhanced by book discussions, journaling, and facilitated circle sharing. The final project provides an opportunity for both storytelling and community engaged collaborations. Taught by Professor Eva Woods Peiró in conjunction with antiracist faculty, administrators and community residents. Open to first and second year students. Contact Eva Woods Peiró

AFRS 186 – On Mattering: Voices from the Movement and Beyond

Small Intensive and public lecture series; Tuesdays 4–6pm

Co-instructors: Jasmine Syedullah and Jonathon Kahn

The Intensive

The “On Mattering: Voices from the Movement and Beyond” intensive is a speaker series designed as an interactive curricular opportunity to engage students in conversation with a range of emergent and seasoned activist knowledges being produced inside and outside the academy by folks working locally and nationally to shift political discourses of harm, safety, and belonging in response to the rise in public awareness and outcry against police brutality and the killings of unarmed black and brown people in communities across the U.S. and throughout the world.

The Public Speaker Series

To attend the public talks all you need is to RSVP to receive a zoom link to the public talks. Each talk is tentatively scheduled to take place on Tuesdays 4–5:30pm EST, from the week of September 8th through October 26th, 2020, but see the event calendar for exact dates and times, as times change.

Study Abroad

In addition to its offerings on the Vassar campus, and a major and a correlate sequence, the program also has opportunities for study at American historically black institutions and for foreign study in Africa and the Caribbean through the college’s study abroad options.

To see the schedule of classes, go to Ask Banner Schedule of Classes, select AFRS Africana Studies in the “Department Menu,” and choose the semester you are interested in for a complete listing of courses offered.

Academic requirements and courses are listed in the Vassar College Catalogue.

Student Research and Travel Grants

The Africana Studies Program offers research and travel grants of up to $500, per academic year, to majors in Africana Studies. Research funds may be used to support travel and/or the purchase of books, supplies and materials related to preliminary or ongoing thesis research. Funds may also be used to travel to conferences to present a paper or poster.

To apply for funding, Africana Studies Program majors should email a 1–2 page research proposal, indicate the name of the Africana faculty who is advising the research, and provide a detailed budget outlining the proposed usage of the funds to: We strongly encourage you to consult with your Africana Studies advisor as you prepare your proposal.

Completed applications will be reviewed twice a year; submission deadlines are December 3 and April 7.

*Grants cannot be used for expenses already incurred.


Correlate Sequences