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Online Graduate Certificate Focuses on African Studies

September 19, 2017 by Karen Grossman |

iStock-506923294-blog (1).pngDr. Cerise Glenn says when she speaks about the Greensboro Four and the Sit-In Movement of 1960 to her students, something that strikes them is how young the protesting students were.

They never realized that young people were responsible for this movement. Some have told Glenn they have been waiting for their time to make their mark. “You can do this now—that’s something they often don’t know,” Glenn says.

Glenn is director of the African American and African Diaspora Studies Program (AADS), which offers a graduate certificate (online or on campus) in addition to an undergraduate major at UNCG.

Study history and current topics

Students pursuing the online Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in African American and African Diaspora Studies examine black life across African diasporas, communities formed from the historic movement of people of African descent. Students learn history as well as explore current issues:

  • African cultures, histories, and experiences, and African expansion into the Americas, Caribbean, and Indian Ocean world
  • The importance of race, gender, and class in America by exploring theoretical, historical, and political foundations
  • An interdisciplinary academic experience in any field you choose—history, English, business, art, sociology, religion, dance, communication studies, and political science
  • Courses that provide critical study of hip-hop culture, race studies, policy, advocacy, and grassroots and systemic culture

Seeing a new perspective

In the program, students gain perspective on race and ethnicity and how people of African descent have shaped the world. They learn about gender differences and how men are held higher in society. Typically male leaders are celebrated even though many women were activists as well. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr., is widely recognized for his work. Coretta Scott King is viewed as his widow but she was also an activist, Glenn points out. “It’s one of those things that we’re taught in mainstream society to see in certain ways,” she says.

She offers the recent book and movie “Hidden Figures” as another example. Astronaut John Glenn is a historical figure, but until now society didn’t really know the black females behind his space mission. (Learn about UNCG’s tie to the Langley Research Center human computer pool program.)

In the AADS program, students also learn that class, education, and gender disproportionately affect African Americans of a lower economic status. 

“Students and people in general think of African Americans as a black community,” Cerise Glenn says. But there are just as many differences as there are similarities.

A certificate for everyone and every field

These courses are for everyone. “[Students] often see not only African American culture, but also how their culture views another culture and how their views are shaped,” Glenn says. Students can complement their undergraduate or graduate degrees in any field with the AADS certificate. For example:

  • Some African countries made the recent travel ban list, and migration issues vary greatly. These issues are becoming much more significant in law, requiring the need for new legal representation in these areas, according to Glenn.
  • In media, the certificate provides an understanding of the history of stereotypes and how they are ingrained in our culture.
  • In health care, health disparities affect African Americans such as lack of health communication in health equity and legislative policy.
  • Students can specialize in African American arts, music, and literature.

“You can study what it is you want to learn about African American culture,” Glenn says. There’s one required course for the program and students can customize the rest with courses in art, English, history, philosophy, sociology, women’s and gender studies, anthropology, political science, and more.

Get the details

Ready to learn more? Download the Online Program Guide.


Download Guide to Online Programs