Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, has a long and growing commitment to the study and teaching of Africa. Over the years, the university has built a faculty with an extraordinary range of expertise on virtually every region of the continent, with over eighty scholars teaching and conducting scholarly work in different parts of Africa. Faculty members serve as consultants to public officials, businesses, schools, and non-governmental organizations both within the United States and internationally. Since 1996, the university has been home to the national secretariat of the African Studies Association making it the host of the world’s largest professional association of Africanist scholars.
The Center for African Studies (CAS), established in 1997, coordinates many exciting initiatives related to Africa around the university. It offers a minor and graduate certificate in African Studies. CAS also promotes the study of African languages, and the Model African Union, a participatory course that culminates in a national student summit in Washington, D.C. Another primary role of CAS is to foster a greater public understanding of Africa, particularly among K-12 teachers. The Graduate School of Education’s Office of Continuing Education and Global Programs maintains a resource center with curricula and programs linking Africa to the US for educators, and makes specialists available to assist teachers covering Africa in world history, social studies, special education, math, and the arts.
Rutgers has extraordinary strength in the study of African literatures, linguistics, and social and cultural history. It has faculty specializing in African literature in Arabic, Hausa, Swahili, Yoruba, Twi, English, French, and Spanish and Portuguese. For example, in the Department of History, there are faculty who focus directly on African history and others whose work in comparative, global, imperial, or Diaspora history contributes to a deeper understanding of the African past. Rutgers also has a strong constituency of scholars specializing in the Maghreb.
Students of the contemporary African environment can choose from dynamic interdisciplinary studies in geography, human ecology, anthropology, and plant biology and plant pathology. They can also participate in a wide range of study abroad opportunities on the continent in the countries of Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Egypt, and Morocco, as well as in the International Service Learning (ISL) program in Ghana. Students interested in the study of women and gender in Africa can benefit from the interdisciplinary work of many African Studies faculty members who work on gender. African Studies faculty have great strengths in gender research, teaching and activism in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies; the Institute for Research on Women; the Center for Women’s Global Leadership; and the Department of African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures.
Rutgers faculty from the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, the School of Engineering, the Graduate School of Education, and the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy have been actively pursuing a wide range of research initiatives in Africa. The School of Engineering is the recipient of the National Science Foundation grant to fund Integrative Graduate Education Research Traineeship (IGERT) in a joint Rutgers-Princeton partnership that involves Africa-based scientists. The School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) provides a wide variety of educational opportunities connected to Africa. Faculty research projects include new uses for agriculture and teaching focused on African botanicals and medicinal plants, as well as research internships for undergraduates identifying ethnic vegetables and biofuel crops. SEBS research, teaching, and outreach activities enrich the long and growing commitment to the study and teaching of Africa.