AAS 232 — African Civilizations


This course is an exploration of the development of African civilizations from the origin of humankind to the present day.  It examines their contributions to the development of the continent and the major world civilizations.  The course carries us through Africa’s major civilizations clusters, and offers a comparative survey extending from the Nile Valley Civilizations, through the Niger River Civilizations. to the Bantu cluster comprising the Central, Southern and Swahili Civilizations.  Particular attention is paid to  religious and philosophical beliefs, literature and the arts, social and political organization, economic, scientific, and technological developments.  Also highlighted are contributions of African women in the history and development of civilization.

AAS 232-African Civilizations is multimedia and built around lectures, readings, viewings, artwork, story maps, on-line databases, TEDTalks, and more.  The course is participatory and centers open pedagogy with student active involvement in new resource searches, Blackboard discussion fora, class discussions and presentations,  It is multidisciplinary and draws on archaeological, artistic, architectural, anthropological, genomic, linguistic, historical, geographical, philosophical, sociological, and literary sources, including oral traditions.


The course is part of the World Cultures/Global Issues Flexible Core and a requirement for the Africana Studies Major at Lehman College-City University of New York (CUNY).   The various resources will be used in light of an eclectic methodology, to elicit new concepts and gain a better understanding of African civilizations.  AAS 232 satisfies the following skills: critical thinking, oral expression, writing skills, library/data base/information literacy.

Students are expected to

– Recognize and critique common misrepresentations of Africa, Africans and their cultures.

– Identify (Pan-African) Movements that have contributed to an understanding of Africa.

– Recognize Africa as a continent (not a country!), Egypt as part of Africa, and Africa as part of the World (Geographical and Historical Background).

– Learn the Physical & Cultural Evolution of Humankind in Africa, the diversity and complexity of Africa (peoples, land, vegetation, cultures, arts, oral traditions, languages, religions, political systems, scientific and technological developments, etc.)

– Learn the development of diverse civilizations across the continent, as well as commonalities and differences among them.

– Learn various ways in which African peoples have interacted with one another and beyond.

– Learn key terms and concepts, historical and geographical sites, historical events and figures.

– Learn the contributions of African women to the development and history of civilization.

– Identify global historical processes that have had a lasting impact on African civilizations.

– Gain a cultural and historical background to think critically and comparatively about African     civilizations/cultures/societies/peoples.

– Develop an ability to read reflectively, analyze and synthesize scholarly material.

– Develop an ability to write a well focused essay organized around a sustained argument.

– Develop an ability to participate actively in class discussions, making informed arguments and treating peers’ contributions both critically and respectfully.