African Studies Program at Penn State

The mission of the African Studies Program is to teach and research about Africa, in all its immensity and diversity from the ancient past to the present. As an interdisciplinary program, we cover topic areas in history, culture, geography, economics, politics, and literature, with specific focus in areas such as feminism, development, linguistics, extractive economies, and post-colonial studies in the shaping of modern-day Africa.

Our faculty and faculty affiliates bring their expertise, from these wide range of disciplines and schools across Penn State, to make this program unique in its scope and commitment to student learning.

Our Feature

Kente Cloth Ceremony: Spring 2023

On Friday, May 5, 2023, AFR celebrated its graduates in the annual donning of the Kente Cloth Ceremony.

Congratulations to all the 2023 graduates!


  • Alexander Enoch
  • Amelia Dodoo
  • Christopher Thomas
  • Lans Conteh
  • Olivia Karschner


  • Isabel Ameer

A Message from Dr. Salikoko S. Mufwene on Decolonizing Knowledge Construction About (Linguistic) Africa - Video

Please check out this video of our Conversation. It will be posted to the website of the University of Chicago Center in Paris. My advisors say it was so successful that we should consider a follow up. Please let me know what you think.

Thanking you both [Cécile B. Vigouroux and Sinfree B. Makoni] for your collaboration,

Salikoko S. Mufwene

The Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor of Linguistics and the College Professor, Department of Race, Diaspora, and Indigeneity Professor, Committee on Evolutionary Biology Professor, Committee on the Conceptual & Historical Studies of Science Professor, Committee on African Studies, University of Chicago 773-702-8531; FAX 773-834-0924é, Department of Linguistics 1115 East 58th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA

Fall 2023 Welcome Message from Director of African Studies Sinfree Makoni

The African Studies Program at Penn State offers a unique opportunity for local and international students from diverse disciplines to study the complex history and tapestry of Africa’s philosophy, gender dynamics, socioeconomics, politics, literatures, governance, and politics. Students learn about the role of Africa in the global arena in terms of trade, economics, and social and political security. Courses are taught by internationally acclaimed scholars who have real-life experience in the regions in which they work.

In addition to its expansive undergraduate program, African Studies currently has a dual PhD degree with each the following five departments: (a) Political Science, (b) Geography, (c) Comparative Literature, (d) French and Francophone Studies, and, more recently, the Senate has approved a dual PhD with (e) Applied Linguistics. The senate also recently approved a Graduate Certificate in Sustainability and Development in Africa. Students can therefore enroll for a dual-title degree in African Studies, as a minor area of study, or to earn a certificate in African Studies at the graduate level.

Learn more about how the African Studies Program explores humanity's birthplace

African Studies 2022 Kente Cloth Ceremony

The African Studies Program recognizes its graduating majors and minors at the annual Kente Cloth Ceremony.

Kente is more than just a cloth. Like most of Africa's visual art forms, it is a tangible representation of history, philosophy, ethics, religious belief, and political thought. And, like art forms the world over, it figures in stirring celebrations of community life and personal achievement. When students are presented with the Kente stole, it not only symbolizes their transition and singular achievement, but places them in the context of prestige, gaiety, and glamor evident during festivals, historic commemorations, and other community events, where people proudly wear their best Kente to reflect the spirit of the occasion.

Congratulations to our spring 2022 graduates!

Djibril Cherif

Djibril Cherif wins Best Outstanding Student Delegate Award

Djibril Cherif wins Best Outstanding Student Delegate Award of the Executive Council of the 18th Session of The Annual International Model African Union Conference, held at Howard University, Washington, DC, February 20-23.

Noelie Ortiz

Noelia Ortiz-Landazabal elected College of the Liberal Arts Student Marshal

Noelia Ortiz-Landazabal was elected by the College, as the College of the Liberal Arts Student Marshal for African Studies, for the class of 2020.