Information for Majors

Black Studies is an interdisciplinary exploration of the histories and cultures of black peoples in Africa and the diaspora. It is also an inquiry into the social construction of racial differences and its relation to the perpetuation of racism and racial domination.

Major Program. The major in Black Studies consists of eight courses: three core courses, three distribution courses, and two electives. The three core courses are Black Studies 111 (normally taken by the end of the sophomore year), Black Studies 200 (normally taken in the sophomore year), and Black Studies 300 (normally taken in the sophomore year) but before the final semester of the senior year. The three course distribution consists of one course in three of four geographic areas: Africa; the United States; Latin America and the Caribbean; and Africa and its Diaspora. The student may choose the two electives from the Department’s offerings, from cross-listed courses, or from other courses at the Five Colleges. Majors fulfill the department's comprehensive requirement by successfully completing Black Studies 300.

Key for required core and distribution requirements for the major: R (Required); A (Africa); US (United States); CLA (Caribbean/Latin America); D (Africa and its Diaspora).

 

Learning Goals

By the time they complete the Black Studies major, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate broad familiarity with several regions in Africa, and the African Diaspora;
  • Read critically books and articles across the range of genres and disciplines in which scholars have written about race-related topics;
  • Recognize and utilize the elements of sound argument in their reading and writing;
  • Focus their work within the major on a particular field or a specific research question;
  • Prepare and complete an extended research project.

Departmental Honors Program

All candidates for honors must write a senior thesis. Candidates for Honors will, with departmental permission, take Black Studies 498-499 during their senior year. The departmental recommendation for Latin honors will be determined by the student's level of performance on her/his thesis.

 

  • A student who wishes to write a thesis in the Black Studies Department should consult with her/his advisor about a topic in the spring semester of her/his junior year. Each candidate must then submit a five page prospectus similar to that written in Black Studies 300, plus a brief bibliography, to the Department office no later than 3:00 p.m. the Friday before move-in weekend..
  • Black Studies faculty will consider thesis proposals at the first department meeting of the academic year.

    • If a proposal is approved, a faculty member will be assigned to work with the student.  The thesis student and faculty advisor will determine a structured timetable within which the student will make satisfactory progress in the first semester of thesis work.
    • The first chapter of the thesis is due to the thesis advisor on the last day of classes in the fall semester.

  • The faculty thesis advisor will evaluate the student's progress and recommend to the Department as a whole no later than January 15th if the student should be allowed to continue her/his thesis work.
    • The department will vote to allow the student to continue or not and will notify the student of its decision by the first day of classes in the spring semester. Continuation into the second semester of thesis work does not guarantee that a student will receive departmental honors.

  • The thesis must be submitted to the department by the second Friday in April at 3:00 p.m.  Submission of a final thesis does not guarantee that a student will receive departmental honors.
  • A bound copy of theses must be submitted for the Department Library.

Honors Program

A candidate for departmental Honors must write a thesis in addition to fulfillign the course requirements for the major. Students wishing to do so should submit a proposal to the Department at the beginning of the second week of fall semester classes. The thesis may be written in French or English (Writing in French is contingent upon the French faculty's positive evaluation of the thesis proposal's grammatical and stylistic proficiency.)

Honors Program in Psychology

The honors program in Psychology offers students the opportunity to work independently and in depth on a project during the senior year. These projects usually involve 3 course credits, one in the fall semester and two in the spring. Most theses are empirical; however, there is also an option to write a "theoretical" thesis (a conceptual survey of empirical and/or theoretical work) or a "practical" thesis.

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