African Studies Syllabus

The Continent and Diaspora

Please review the contents of this syllabus and enter your contact information in form at the bottom.

Course Description

For many centuries the study of Africa has been shrouded in a cloud of misconception, insensitivity, and discord. Much of Africa’s history has been excluded from World History or is only taught as a part of the European colonial conquest creating an ethnocentric view of an otherwise rich history. This interdisciplinary course seeks to examine Africa’s history and culture from the time preceding European contact to now and emphasize Africa’s impact on the world. Through analysis of a variety of artifacts and primary sources, students will be introduced to the diverse cultural, religious, and historical matters relating to the African continent and those of African descent.

Instructor and Contact Information

Kali Alford

Units of Study and Objectives

Units of Instruction:

Unit 1 Perceptions/ Misconceptions One Week

The student will investigate the origins of misconceptions and perceptions of the African continent and the cultures therein between the 15th century and modern day.

  1. Assess modern media, movies, and textbooks for bias and Ethnocentrism.

  2. Compare and contrast the European depictions of Africans before and after the Renaissance.

  3. Evaluate the importance of maps and the role of cartographers in the historical inaccuracies of the African continent.

  4. Determine the purpose behind the creation “RACE” and identify the effects it had on the African continent.

Unit 2 _ Empires/ Contact with Europe Two Weeks

The student will identify the political structures and most notable African Empires that existed prior to major European contact.

  1. Explain and examine people without Empire in pre-colonial Africa.

  2. Describe and explain the empires of Ghana, Mali, Songhai and their culture, political structure, and patterns of growth.

  3. Investigate the remnants of Great Zimbabwe and what evaluate the validity of current theories about the empire.

  4. Distinguish and compare the various Swahili Kingdoms.

Unit 3 Religion and Gender in Africa _ One Week

The student will explain and examine the spread of Christianity and Islam into Africa and the lasting impacts these religions had on African culture.

  1. Identify and compare characteristics of various indigenous religions present in Africa.

  2. Trace and tabulate the spread of Christianity and Islam throughout African from Southwest Asia.

  3. Evaluate the effects Christianity and Islam had on indigenous African religions and the roles of women.

Unit 4 _ Captivity and Slave Trades _ Two Weeks

The student will analyze and examine the establishment of the Trans-Saharan, Trans-Atlantic, and Indian Ocean mass slave trade systems and compare them to the prior institutions of servitude present in Africa.

  1. Examine specific examples and practices of indigenous servitude systems present in Africa prior to mass slave systems

  2. Describe the transition from gold and spices to humans as the main commodities in the Trans-Saharan trade system.

  3. Examine the origins of the Trans Atlantic slave systems and evaluate the various roles that Europeans and Africans played in the system as well as describe the practices of slave traders and the treatment of slaves in relation to the Middle Passage.

  4. Describe the economic relations between the Swahili kingdoms of East Africa and nations in Indian Ocean and South Asia.

Unit 5 _ African Diaspora _ Two Weeks

The student will examine various destinations of Africans in the slave trade, the cultural exchanges that have taken place, and the cultures that have developed.

  1. Examine the North American plantation system and the role of enslaved Africans.

  2. Investigate various case studies of slave systems in Brazil and the Caribbean and the African response.

  3. Examine the motivations of the various ethno-political divides that were created in Brazil and the Caribbean.

  4. Identify and explain Africanisms present in Indian Ocean and South Asian cultures

Unit 6 Colonialism Two Weeks

The student will analyze the period of European colonization of Africa by examining the various perspectives of the colonizing powers and the colonized peoples of Africa.

  1. Describe the provisions and parameters for the partitioning of Africa during the Berlin Conference.

  2. Examine the political, social, and economic motivations behind the European colonization of Africa.

  3. Identify the various types of colonization practiced in African and investigate their role in the current state of various African nations.

  4. Describe the treatment African people by colonizing powers and methods of subjugation.

Unit 7 Africa and the World Wars __ One Week

The student will learn about Africa’s relevance in both World Wars and the impact of the wars on various regions of Africa.

  1. Describe the methods of recruitment by the various colonial powers during World War I.

  2. Examine the allocation of Germany’s colonies following the conclusion of World War I.

  3. Explain the significance and strategic relevance of World War II battles in Africa.

  4. Investigate the ties of service in the World Wars to decolonization and colonization resistance movements.

Unit 8 _ Decolonization/ Freedom Movements _ Two Weeks

The student will explore various freedom movements throughout Africa that contributed to decolonization.

  1. Consider African Nationalism by examining the writings and perspectives of Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, and Patrice Lumumba.

  2. Compare and contrast the Pan African ideologies of the Eight African State African Conference, Casablanca Group, and the Monrovia Group

  3. Investigate the motivations behind, implementation, and response to the institution of apartheid in South Africa.

Unit 9 _ Cold War & Contemporary Issues _ Two Weeks

The student will examine the remnants of colonialism and investigate the roles of Soviet Russia and the United States in post-colonial Africa.

  1. Investigate the Congo crisis (1960-1965) and United States’ response to Soviet involvement in the Congo.

  2. Explore the influences and interest of Cuba, the Soviet Union, South Africa, and the United States in the Angolan Civil War

Unit 10 _ Africa’s Contribution to the Global Community _ One Week

The student will consider Africa’s contributions to the global community and examine Africa’s current state in the global economy.

  1. Canvass African movements of art, music, and literature, present on the global stage and examine their continental influences.

  2. Reflect upon Africa’s place in World History and infer about the economic, social, and political future of the continent.

Grading Scale and Percentages

Grading Scale:

90-100 A

80-89 B

70-79 C

69 and below F

Course Policies

Projects: There will be a variety of group and individual projects and presentations throughout the course.

Tests: Tests may be multiple choice, essay, or short answer in format.

Participation: Since there is no main text for the course the students will rely heavily on readings and primary source documents during this study of Africa. Using these documents, students will participate in small group discussions in class as well as online discussion outside of class. This class will be taught as an upper level course. In similar fashion to many college courses, the instructor will employ Socratic discussions which make class participation a key method not only for students to gain better understanding of the content, but also as an observable medium of assessment for the instructor.

Final exam: There will be a comprehensive final at the end of each semester.

Classroom Policies:

Responsibilities: Students are expected to be on time for class and attend daily, come prepared, complete all assignments, and respect themselves and others. Class will start on time, so you are to be seated and ready as soon as the bell rings. Students are expected to follow the rules of Riverwood International Charter School and the FCBOE.

Dresscode: The school dresscode will be enforced.

Late Work: Late is work is unacceptable. Late work for all assignments will be penalized 10% for each day it is late up to a 50% penalty. (10% a day for five days.) Major assignments that are not submitted within 10 days of the due date will receive no credit. Should a student turn in an assignment the day it is due, but not at the time it is collected, it will be considered late and 10% will be deducted. It is not acceptable to be working on a previous assignment or homework in class. If you are working on a previous assignment or homework in class, it will result in a grade of a zero for that particular assignment.

Make-up Policy for Classwork: Attendance is important. Please come to class daily and on time. It is the student’s responsibility to see their instructor regarding work that has been missed due to an absence. You are encouraged to check the class website when you are absent. A make-up work request must be made the day that the student returns from an absence. Please see me before school, after school or during lunch. At that time I will determine when the work that you missed will be due. Students should not interrupt class to get make-up work. If a student knows in advance of an absence, see me prior to the absence to get any work that will be missed. Students may also email me at If an absence is unexcused, you may receive a zero for any missed assignments.

Make-up Policy for Tests and Major Assignments: If a student is absent on the day of exam, they are expected email me to let me know about the absence so that arrangements for a make-up exam can be made. The student will be expected to make up the exam when they return to school. In the case of projects and papers, the student is expected to email me regarding the absence. The project (if it is on Powerpoint) or paper should be attached to this email. All other projects should be brought to the school that day, if possible. If not, they need to be turned in by 8:15 the following day. In the case of presentations, a paper will have to be written in lieu of a missed presentation. If the absence is unexcused, you may receive a zero for the missed assignment.

Recovery: In the event that a student is failing the course, opportunities for academic assistance are available. An academic assistance plan is a second opportunity to demonstrate competence in the originally evaluated objectives. In order to receive this opportunity for tests in which the student earned an unsatisfactory grade, the STUDENT must attend a tutorial session prior to the test. Making up assignments that were never completed is NOT an example of recovery; neither is retaking a test. Students will have an appropriate time period to complete the work which corresponds to the recovery assignment, however, this period will not exceed five (5) total days (not class periods). ALL REQUESTS FOR ASSITANCE MUST BE INITIATED BY THE END OF THE 14TH WEEK OF THE SEMESTER.

Teacher Availabilty: The instructor is available before and after school on Wednesdays and some mornings, by appointment only. IT IS THE STUDENT’S RESPONSIBILITY TO SCHEDULE APPOINTMENTS WITH THE INSTRUCTOR ON DAYS OTHER THAN WEDNESDAY.

Academic Integrity: The Social Studies Mission Statement provides that teachers develop the whole person by nurturing in students a sense of responsibility. Students need to be cognizant of what is right and what is wrong. Honesty is one of our highest values. If we are to develop students as contributing citizens of society, we as teachers need to ensure the moral honesty of our students and instill academic integrity. We define a lack of academic integrity to be dishonest or deceitful behavior shown by students who gain an unfair academic advantage through, but not limited to, some of the following methods; plagiarism; copying another's work when it is not explicitly encouraged by the teacher; providing details of a specific test or quiz before, during, or after the event; after the event; the use of unauthorized aids on tests, such as cheat sheets or programmed calculators; or recycling/reusing a previous paper or project of one's own or another's without the explicit consent of the teacher.

Preventative measures: Social Studies Teachers will use as a tool to combat plagiarism. All Students will be required to upload major papers to this website, or any other papers deemed necessary by the teacher. At any time, teachers should be able to verify references by pulling them up on the Internet (for web references), or books (confirmed through If the teacher is unable to confirm references, it shall be referred to the student to provide evidence of such references.

THERE WILL BE NO DISCUSSION OF EXAMS, QUIZZES, OR WRITING ASSIGNMENTS: Students are NOT to discuss exam, quiz, or writing questions unless it is done so in class under the direction of their teacher.

PERSONAL HONOR VERIFICATION: Each student will hand write the following pledge on designated assignments prior to handing it in to the instructor, “I have neither given nor received any unauthorized assistance on this assignment” followed by the student’s signature.