Gerald M. Boodoo, Ph.D.

Director of the Center for African Studies
Center for African Studies
104 Rockwell Hall
600 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
Phone: 412.396.1929

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    African Studies Courses

    150 Introduction to African Studies 

    This course will present inter/multi-disciplinary perspectives on sub-Saharan Africa paying attention to the many factors -society, politics, economics, culture, literature, religion, ecology, among others- that have shaped the region and impact its role in our world today. Theme Area Global Diversity.

    201 Human Security in Sub-Saharan Africa

    Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, the course examines human security issues including religious and ethnic conflict within states; genocide and mass slaughter; terrorism; food security; mugration and human trafficking; development and aid; and democratization. Among countries considered in the course are some of Africa's largest and most important, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia. Theme Area Global Diversity.

    203 Leadership in Africa

    The course has two main subjects: leadership and Africa. Using case studies of a range of political and grassroots leaders, students investigate major social and political challenges in sub-Saharan African societies. In addition to biographical readings and films about leaders dealing with key social and political challenges, the course emphasizes scholarly perspectives as a way of understanding African societies and how leaders develop and effect change. Comparative perspectives on African countries in relation to developing countries on other continents will serve to highlight myths and realities of 21st-century Africa. The course affords students the opportunity to research and write on particular African leaders and organizations working to change society. 

    204 Approaches to Black and African Theologies 

    This is an introductory course to theology from African and African American perspectives. Students are opened not only to Roman Catholic theological traditions but also to the diversity of approaches in theology within which Black, African and Third World theologies are located. The dislectical engagement of African and Black Theologies and the methodological and interpretative shifts that account for their emergence and ongoing development are rooted in African and Black history and tradition. The course has also added pastoral dimension; the preparation for and enhancement of ministry in the Roman Catholic Church to peoples of African descent. 

    206 Imagining Africa (Maymester Study Abroad)

    This course will experience Ghana-previously called the "Gold Coast"-on site and through its important literary representations. The central question of this course is why West Africa, and Ghana specifically, is so central to the black cultural imagination in the United States and in the Americas generally. What is Ghana's historic and symbolic place in the collective memory of the African slave trade and in the liberation of Africa from colonial rule? What are the differences in the way black American, Caribbean, and Ghanaian writers/ intellectuals themselves represent Ghana? What do these texts say about the possibility of an international black historical consciousness that transcends national, linguistic, and cultural differences? 

    209 African Philosophy

    This course explores how philosophers in Africa examine religion, culture, morality, wisdom, and social justice. It examines various kinds of sages and their views of God, culture, life and death, and humans and animals. This course uses philosophical texts, novels, visual arts, and film. 

    217 Philosophy in Africa Literature

    This course explores how African/Diasporic literary works challenge how we think about questions of what it means to be-in-the-world.

    222 Introduction to Peace and Justice

    An introduction to conceptual, practical, and spiritual dimensions of peace and justice. Peace and justice are treated as the by-products of intra psychic, interpersonal, situational, organizational, regional, national, and global conflict. 

    224 African Political Philosophy

    In this course, we will critically analyze the meaning of fundamental concepts of political philosophy as percieved by great African thinkers from 1860 to the present. 

    230 Religion and Literature in Africa

    This course explores the role of religion in sub-Saharan Africa, and especially during and after European colonialism. Students will examine religion and religious consciousness as a crucial, if not central, structure in the formation of African communities. The following are some of the themes and questions we will engage: are Christianity and Islam African religions? How did Europeans use Christianity as a vehicle of colonial domination? How did those Africans who adopted Christianity use it against colonialism? How was Islam used by colonial powers? How was it used against them? What is the nature of the relationship between Christianity, Islam, and indigenous African religions? What role has religion played in the development of national consciousness in sub-Saharan Africa in the twentieth centruy? In what ways do religious communities correspond with particular ethnic and national groups? How does fiction imagine and shape the place of religion in sub-Saharan Africa? How do African writers use fiction to rewrite their histories, to "speak" back to colonial representations of African cultures and religions? 

    231 Precolonial Africa

    This course examines African history from the development of human civilization to 1800. It is designed to provide students with a broad understanding of the cultures, history, social structures and political organizations of Africa before the arrival of the Europeans. The focus includes, but is not limited to, the following subjects: Ancient African civilizations such as Egypt, Axum, Meroe and Kush; migrations and interactions of various African ethnic groups; state-formation in sub-Saharan Africa; trade in sub-Saharan Africa; and the impact of external factors upon Africa such as the slave trade, Islam and Christianity. Theme Area Global Diversity.

    240 African Perspectives to Bioethics

    This course introduces students to African cultures and to alternative approaches in bioethics discourse. It explores theoretical as well as practical issues in the field of bioethics from the African perspectives. The course intends to make students appreciate non-Western perspectives, thus equipping them for discourse on global bioethical issues. Subjects covered include: sources of African ethics; the Role of Community in African Bioethics; the impact of African Traditional Religion on African Bioethics; Foundations of Contemporary African Bioethics; Concept of health and illness, and Healing; Ethical Principles; Justice and just distribution of healthcare, Relational autonomy in informed consent (RAIC); Character and Moral virtues; The care of earth and environment in African worldview; issues at beginning of life; attitudes to reproductive technologies; human experimentation; euthanasia and end-of-life questions; and the just distribution of healthcare and healthcare policy. Ethics Core Requirement, Theme Area Social Justice.

    245 Disabilities Across the World

    This course challenges students to consider individuals with disabilities within the context of social justice and dignity. The course focuses on how disabilities are perceived across the world's cultures and societies, the consequences of those perceptions, and the historical, political, and economic forces which perpetuate them. The goals and missions of some of the agencies and movements dedicated to addressing disabilities across the globe are explored. Through large class discussions, book readings, videos, and individual assignments, students engage in self-reflection about their personal assumptions and beliefs about individuals with disabilities as well as the ethical problems these assumptions bring to our social interactions with other people. Several classes will be conducted online through Blackboard, using Discussion Board and/or Collaborate as the learning platform. Theme Area Social Justice.

    251 African History

    This course examines some of the various peoples of Africa over the past 500 years, but with an emphasis on the modern era. While the focus will be on cultures and cultural developments, economic conditions and political situations will also be studied. 

    280 Faith and Reason (Summer Study Abroad)

    How the Divine is sensed and responded to in various geographical, cultural, and chronological contexts. 

    316 The Musics of Africa

    The main aim of this course is to provide a framework for the understanding of music originating and as performed in the continent of Africa. It explores the variety of music of the great continent by focusing on selected musical cultures, the knowledge of which will enable the student to appreciate how social and cultural life are interlaced with music. Ideas and information will be drawn from recordings, videos, readings, lectures, discussions, and in-class performances. 

    322 Global Literature Survey (Focus on Africa)

    Examination of literature from across the globe. Theme Area Global Diversity. 

    324 Cultural Applications in Clinical Practice

    This course introduces models of transcultural health care. Issues to the health care professional's role in the delivery of culturally competent based health care are explored. Emphasis is placed on the assessment and analysis of culturally congruent care as related to clinical practice issues in the United States and Globally and more specifically in the context of sub-Saharan Africa. Interplay between models of transcultural care and other models of clinical application of culturally appropriate interventions are examined.

    335 Psychology, Film and Identity: Perspectives From African Cinema

    In this course, we will explore African and African Diasporic writings and films that address questions of identity in contemporary post-colonial, de-colonial, and global contexts. Our approach to understanding identity construction in these contexts will be fundamentally interdisciplinary. We will read texts on identity and film across the disciplines of psychology, philosophy, African studies, post-colonial and de-colonial theory, anthropology, cultural studies, literature, and film theory. We will also screen and engage films on their own aesthetic terms - that is, as art forms that offer media-specific possibilities for producing identities. Theme Areas Social Justice or Creative Arts.

    370 Focus on East Africa: Health, Disability, and Social Justice

    Students will engage in this inter-professional, interdisciplinary community engagement immersion experience in Tanzania, East Africa, as participant observers. Students will address community-identified needs providing service and educational modules as requested at a variety of health clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools and universities. In addition, students will learn from health care professionals in Tanzania through formal presentations about issues related to global health, disability and social justice. 

    378 Modern Africa

    The history of independent Africa is a turbulent one, filled with wars, political upheavals, social disasters and unrest, economic calamities and a smattering of great successes. This course covers a variety of topics in the history of Africa from the independence movements of the post Second World War era to the present. Topics include, but are not limited to the following: the gaining of African independence, Africa during the Cold War, various military, political and social conflicts that plague modern Africa, the role of the United Nations and the African Union in creating political and economic stability in present-day Africa, the successes of various African nations at creating stable and econimically viable states, and finally what the future holds for Africa. These topics will be examined through a variety of perspectives such as ethnicity, political, religous, economic and social factors. 

    456 Water, Enviornment, and Development

    Lack of potable water is perhaps the most critical factor degrading quality of life for billions of people and bodes well to become the major natural resource constraint on development worldwide. Relying on the four "lenses" of biology and ecology, sufficiency availability, and quality, Water, Environment and Development takes a global perspective, with special reference to Africa, to examine the environmental, technical, economic, and social factors that affect the quality and quantity of water supply. 

    492 Contemporary Public Health Issues in Africa

    The course is designed to provide a broad perspective related to public health issues which threaten the health and well-being of African population. It will be designed to fit different school majors at the undergraduate programs as it integrates the social, economic, environmental, and political aspects that affect people's health in Africa. Students will learn about sub-Saharan African region's disease burden and frail health care systems within the context of millennium development goals. 

    495 Directed Readings

    Offers the opportunity for students to conduct in-depth study of a particular topic or area in African Studies. Requires permission of the Center's Director.

    495W Directed Readings 

    Offers the opportunity for students to conduct in-depth study of a particular topic or area in African Studies. This is a writing intensive course and requires permission of the Center's Director.

    For more information please contact the Center at