As the one of the first degree-granting and tenure-conferring departments of what was then popularly referred to as Black Studies, the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies helped establish the study of the African American experience and the Afro-Diaspora as a serious endeavor in higher education in the United States. Our long, distinguished history of educating leaders arises from a powerful combination of:

  • academic excellence in a global learning environment;
  • a tight-knit, diverse, and international community;
  • a worldwide network of influential alumnae/i; and,
  • the conviction that people of African descent can and should make a difference in the world.

Located in Amherst, Mass., the UMass Amherst campus is 90 miles west of Boston and 175 miles north of New York City. We encourage prospective students to visit our beautiful campus, talk to professors, learn about the tremendous advantages of the Five College Consortium, tour our facilities, and chat with current students.

Make a gift to support research in the Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies and contribute to the creation of a new body of knowledge about the American experience. 

For more information, see the article "Endowed Scholarship Aids Groundbreaking Work in Afro-American Studies."

aerial shot of the campus in fall with the library in the middle

Vision, Mission, Goals, and Objectives

The UMass Board of Trustees thereupon approved the creation of the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies in 1970. As we enter our fifth decade of existence we hereby state our vision, mission, goals, and objectives.

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Vision Statement

The department will be a leader in Africana Studies research and teaching, and in service to black communities and black studies in the 21st century.

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Nia/Purpose Statement

To enhance the public’s understanding of the African American experience and the worldwide African Diaspora in the Du Boisian tradition of education, research, and service using innovative models that address complex transdisciplinary issues.

I. Research Goals

I.A. To increase overall research productivity and quality.

I.B. To conduct innovative, transdisciplinary cultural, historical, literary, and social science research along with transformative community applications.

II. Education Goals

II.A. To be a recognized leader in preparing graduate students with the knowledge, skills, and competencies needed to advance the field of Africana/Black Studies.

II.B. To promote diversity in the student body and to develop learning opportunities to address issues of racial stratification and conflict.

III. Service and Outreach Goals

III.A. To engage communities, students, and research partners in addressing transdisciplinary Africana/Black Studies topics in and beyond Massachusetts.

III.B. To provide leadership and service to organizations as well as communities and agencies at the municipal, state, federal and global levels.