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About Us

The African Studies Center (ASC) at the University of Michigan provides strategic guidance and coordination for Africa-related education, research, and training activities on campus, and promotes opportunities for collaboration with African partners on the continent.

The center’s mission:

  • Deepen and expand scholarly and educational partnerships between U-M and African institutions
  • Support exchanges of students, faculty, and staff between U-M and African institutions
  • Enhance the study of Africa, past and present, within the U-M curriculum
  • Connect faculty and students working in/on Africa from all colleges and units on campus
  • Foster interdisciplinary research to find imaginative solutions to contemporary social, cultural, medical, technological, and environmental problems
  • Serve as a public resource on Africa and Michigan’s involvement with it for the state and local community

ASC is a member of the International Institute and was established in July 2008. The center is organized around five primary research initiatives and programs that have been funded separately by the Office of the President and different stakeholders on campus.

African Heritage and Humanities Initiative (AHHI) supports research related to the arts, humanities, and interpretive social sciences, which highlights the dynamic, contested process by which African cultures and histories are made;

African Social Research Initiative (ASRI) promotes social science research on democratic governance and distributive politics; income dynamics and poverty; and gender, health, and development;

Ethiopia-Michigan Collaborative Consortium (EMC2) illustrates the deep and multifaceted relationship between the U-M and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. U-M faculty and students from many disciplines engage with diverse stakeholders across the country to extend their impact beyond academia through community-based research, patient care, educational capacity building in many fields, service learning, scholarship, and research;

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Initiative (STEM-Africa) nurtures the study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in Africa, which extends scientific knowledge and yields solutions to global problems; and

U-M African Presidential Scholars (UMAPS) Program supports the development of the next generation of African scholars by integrating them into international academic networks, and promotes U-M’s international commitment to research and teaching collaborations across diverse disciplines, from engineering to literature to economics.

Over the past years, the center have:

  • Strengthened and expanded institutional partnerships in Africa
  • Implemented a competitive student and faculty grants program to support research and travel
  • Strengthened Africa-focused curriculum and expanded education abroad programs in Africa
  • Sponsored numerous Africa-focused events at U-M and at partner institutions in Africa
  • Introduced new research projects that support research and knowledge on Africa

2008-2018 In Review Report  

highlights ASC's accomplishments and role in the immense ways Africa-related research, partnership, and engagement involving University of Michigan students and faculty have expanded over the past seven years. 

Download the PDF »

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between DAAS and ASC?

The Department of African and Afroamerican Studies (DAAS) is the curricular home for African studies within the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA), providing African studies courses that encompass the social sciences, humanities, and African languages, as well as coordinating the Africa Workshop Series.

The African Studies Center (ASC) administers African studies initiatives funded through the University of Michigan Office of the President. ASC is primarily research- and grant-focused. The center concentrates on creating connections between scholars on U-M’s campus with a common interest in Africa and between U-M and partnering African institutions. 

Why does the U-M President’s Office have an African Initiative?

President Mary Sue Coleman’s decision to lead a University of Michigan delegation to Africa in February 2008 came about because the university is dedicated to internationalization with equity. U-M seeks to bring comprehensive diversity to its educational, research, and artistic connections and is committed to deepening its ties with countries throughout the globe.

How were ASC’s presidential initiatives chosen?

The African Studies Center’s (ASC) presidential initiatives were chosen in cooperation with our African colleagues. Projects were selected that already had multiple partners on the African continent, had significant growth/expansion potential, and were judged of special importance by U-M and African higher education leaders alike.

Why begin with a focus on Ghana and South Africa?

The choice to visit Ghana and South Africa resulted from the University of Michigan’s historic relationship with partners in both countries. Two U-M presidents had visited South Africa before President Coleman, paving the way for a post-apartheid partnership. The depth of the university’s health, IT, and heritage connections with Ghana made the country a natural first point of entry for this trip.

U-M’s long-term goal is to expand its relationship with other African countries, an idea endorsed by higher education stakeholders from both Ghana and South Africa who were already developing such ties.