African Studies Course Descriptions

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African Repertory: Music & Dance

This course is designed to help students acquire skills and proficiency in the performance styles of traditional dance forms, as well as the emerging contemporary African dance styles, including those in the repertory of the Noyam Dance Theatre Company, a dance institute affiliated with Ashesi University. Selected dances from both traditional and contemporary genre will be treated, including their basic meaning and significance. Live performances and video recordings of selected dance forms will be discussed with students to give them an overview of the nature of dance performance.

 

Archaeology: Africa - History, Cultures, Civilizations and Nations

The course provides a survey of major aspects of Africa in the past 6,000 years. Among the course objectives are:

  • To bring students to appreciate the importance of employing eclecticism as a viable methodological tool in Africana social science/humanities research.
  • To show that in order to obtain a balanced view of Africa's history and developmental process, there is need to view the continent not only through the eyes of foreign literati (as has been the case so far), but more so from the African standpoint.
  • To ensure that students are sufficiently well-read and abreast with broad/general knowledge of Africa and able to carry out further detailed study of some aspect of it - be it political economy, social structure, historical demography, technological history, trade or art history.

 

Archaeology: Ghana in Multi-Perspective

The subject matter of the course is on the origins and development of the peoples of Ghana from pre-historic times till present. The course presents a Ghanaian case study to illustrate (1) the struggle that many countries in Africa have had to contend with in their progress from primal status to modern nationhood, and (2) how such countries are learning (in spite of many previous mistakes and present shortcomings/disadvantages) to fit fruitfully into the present age of globalization.

 

Architecture: Traditional Design & Architecture in Africa

Traditional African architecture stands as a monument and record of history. It serves as an indicator or benchmark for future generations and reflects social changes that have taken place over a period. It can be said to be permanent historical data documented in structural forms and livable spaces. Design and symbols of various peoples in Africa have served primarily as a means of distinction and identification. Through them the traditions, culture and values of a tribe can be studied and understood. This course introduces students to an integrated study of art, history, geography and sociology through architecture and design in Africa, and has the following objectives.

  • To introduce students to the artistic evidence of cultural diversity in Africa.
  • To enable students to understand the evolution of cultures and settlements.

 

History: Africa in the International Setting

The course will provide a survey of Africa's integration into the global system and examine the impact of the integration on Africa. It will also examine how Africa has fared in the comity of nations. The course aims at introducing students to the different historical stages of Africa's integration into the global system, the complex processes involved in each historical stage of integration, and the results of the integration. Further, the course aims at laying the foundations for a much better appreciation of Africa's complex and multifarious problems, and hopefully creates the basis for thoughtful suggestions for solutions to them.

 

History: The History of Chieftaincy in Ghana

The course provides a survey of the history of chieftaincy and traditional leadership in Ghana from pre-colonial through the colonial and the post-colonial periods. Even though the course will draw heavily on multi-disciplinary research and materials, it will essentially be historical in method and content, so as to explain adequately the immense importance of chieftaincy in the lives of Ghanaians.

The course has three main aims. First, it seeks to introduce students to the history of chieftaincy as the highest form of traditional leadership in Ghana from the earliest times. Consequently, the course will highlight the origins, changes and continuities in the institution of chieftaincy in Ghana by:

  • Tracing the history of chieftaincy from pre-colonial times;
  • Examining chieftaincy under colonialism and changes and shifts occasioned during colonialism
  • Examining chieftaincy in the post-colonial period.

The second aim of the course is to distinguish the history of the institution from its political and sociological aspects, without sacrificing a multi-disciplinary approach and materials on which the course would draw. In this regard the course will examine the legal, political, social and religious aspects of chieftaincy in an historical context. The third aim of the course is to introduce students in a systematic, academic manner to one of the very important institutions in Ghana that touch on every aspect of the lives of Ghanaians and about which they hear every day, but which they take ever so much for granted.

 

Philosophy: African Philosophical Thought

This course will review the foundations for African social thoughts on the good society and social life. Its main interest will be in a delineation of social, cultural and psychological challenges confronting human beings in human groups and how those experiencing these challenges have responded to them in the past in the African cultural milieu. Different systems of African social organizations will be examined to include leadership and political systems, cultural values, music, dance, art and religion. The course will raise fundamental questions about the African experience and construct from it a coherent picture of the reality of modern African social life.

 

Political Science: Conflicts in African States

Violent conflict is neither new in, nor restricted to, Africa. But particularly since the end of the Cold War, violent intra-state conflicts have occurred in swift succession in Africa with disastrous impacts on every aspect of life on the continent. These conflicts have been characterized, among other things, by the dramatically high ratio of civilian rather than military casualties, widespread population displacement, and the deliberate use of child soldiers. The resolution of these conflicts have been protracted and less decisive, resulting in long periods of "no war, no peace." This course will introduce students to basic concepts of conflict and conflict resolution, and how they apply to various aspects of conflicts in contemporary Africa. There will be in-depth study of selected conflicts to bring into sharper focus the theoretical underpinnings and make comparative analysis possible. Ethnic conflicts and the child solder phenomenon in the African context will be given special consideration. Through this course, students will develop a better understanding of the backgrounds, dynamics and modes of resolving various contemporary African conflicts. More significantly, through their assigned readings, internet search and group activities, students will be encouraged to develop alternative strategies for resolving these conflicts.

 

Sociology: Africa in the World, Ghana in Africa: A Guide to 21st Century Understanding

This course offers a thematic, interdisciplinary and collaborative process for teaching and learning about Africa and its peoples. Central to its design are

  1. its pivotal use of one nation as the specific site of activities, and
  2. its strategy for shaping and understanding the African experience from the micro-level conditions of Africa’s villages to the macro-level structures of Africa’s global relationships. A key to the enquiry is the gradual move from conventional classroom activity to direct, applied, collaborative study of the Ghanaian community, the issues its people face, and the ways they manage their multiple intersections with sub-national, national, continental and global realities.

The topical range of study is potentially vast, and is driven primarily by student experience, interest and curiosity. Possible topics include family units; marketplaces; elders and youths; royalty and chieftaincy; non-governmental organizations; Ghanaians abroad and foreigners in Ghana; business enterprise; the creative arts and literature; and Ghana’s images and icons.

 

Sociology: Traditional Medicine

The course is intended to throw light on the structure, function and practice of Africa traditional medicine and its relationship with modern (scientific/western) medicine. By the end of this course, students will be conversant with African traditional medicine and attempts made to incorporate it in primary health care. The course will:

  • Give an insight into African Traditional Medicine
  • Elucidate the pattern of articulation between different persuasions/types of traditional medicinal practice.
  • Determine the nature of interrelationships between traditional and modern medicine.