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Black Studies

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The Black Studies major at SVSU provides students with an interdisciplinary education that emphasizes intellectual growth and consciousness, scholarly inquiry and production, and cooperation, responsibility and leadership within the community. At its root this degree is grounded in the African Diaspora and advances academic excellence and social responsibility.

Students who earn a degree in Black Studies will have diverse employment opportunities in the public and private sector. Drawing on courses from the departments of Communication, Criminal Justice, English, History, Political Science, Rhetoric and Professional Writing, and Sociology, the program helps students develop intellectual, creative and analytical skills that will serve them well in any career.


Cardinal Points

  • Did you know? As a formal academic program, Black Studies began at San Francisco State College in 1968. 

  • "Black Studies is the critical and systematic study of the thought and practice of African people in their current and historical unfolding." - Dr. Maulana Karenga, activist, author and professor of Africana

  • Black Studies at SVSU is focused on cultural grounding, academic excellence and social responsibility.

  • Students may obtain a minor in Black Studies in conjunction with a major in any area of study.

Ashley Woodson Portrait
Everyone was tremendously supportive. The importance of that can't be understated.

— Ashley Woodson, Ph.D.
BA Communication, minor in Black Studies, SVSU '07
Dean of the School for Public Purpose and Professional Advancement
Albion College

Black Studies at SVSU examines the full spectrum of the African Diaspora and provides the breadth of study and experience to deepen students’ understanding and knowledge of our local communities and larger world, challenges students to consider their place and responsibility in it, and enhances, strengthens, and expands their critical skills, vision, and confidence to succeed in our world.

Black Studies at SVSU emphasizes three areas of development:

  • Intellectual growth and consciousness through instruction and thoughtful analysis of sources and experiential learning
  • Scholarly inquiry and production which demonstrates knowledge, creativity, and analysis
  • Implementation, demonstration, sharing, cooperation, responsibility, and leadership within our communities

These three areas of development are in keeping with and reflect the three areas of focus for the larger mission of the Black Studies discipline: cultural grounding, academic excellence, and social responsibility.

Ashley Arlt Portrait
After taking all the courses for the Black studies minor at SVSU, I feel more prepared to teach history in more than one perspective, one that reflects the students in my future classrooms.

— Ashley Arlt, '22
Secondary Education, Social Studies with minor in Black Studies

Highlighted Courses

  • BLS 100 - Introduction to Black Studies
  • BLS 499 - Black Studies Capstone
  • GEOG 311 - Geography of Africa
  • HIST 319 - African-American History
  • HIST 326 - The Black Freedom Struggle 1941-PRESENT
  • HIST 380 - Historical Geography of Africa
  • SOC 111 - Introduction to Sociology or SOC 112! - Introduction to Anthropology
  • SOC 341 - African American Cultures
  • SOC 365 - Modern Africa

Key Electives

  • BLS 490 - Special Topics in Black Studies
  • CJ 381 - Social Justice
  • COMM 455 - Intercultural Communication
  • ENGL 204 - Thematic Approaches to Literature
  • ENGL 205 - Studies in World Literature
  • ENGL 307 - Ethnic Literature in the U.S.
  • HIST 110! - Themes in Modern History
  • HIST 382 - History of the African Diaspora
  • PS 270 - Race & U.S. Political System
  • PS 327 - Equal Protection & Race Discrimination
  • PS 392 - Politics & Policies of Cities & Suburbs
  • RPW 368 - Cultural Rhetorics
  • SOC 300 - Social Inequal & Human Diversity
  • SOC 340 - Black Women in America
  • SOC 420 - Social Strat: Power, Inequality Society

Our Students After Graduation...


Black Studies graduates are employed in a diverse range of employment and are engaged in a wide range of professional experiences.

Graduate Programs

Cornell University
Eastern Michigan University
Emory University
Florida International University
Michigan State University
Northwestern University
Ohio State University
Temple University
University of Kansas
University of Illinois
Wayne State University

Career Opportunities

A degree in Black Studies offers enormous professional opportunities and careers in fields such as the law, social justice, advocacy, community engagement, education, teaching, student affairs, research, analysis, social work, human resources, environmental justice, healthcare, housing policy, transportation policy, journalism, nonprofits, NGO, organizer, social entrepreneurship, social venture, marketing, business/corporate responsibility, government work, public policy, public administrator, elected office, community planning, public affairs, health services, and human resources.

Fully integrated into social networks, SVSU Connect is a valuable networking space dedicated to the community of SVSU students, faculty and alumni which cultivates a culture of helping and giving back. In addition to connecting with each other, students at all points along their journey can reach out to alumni mentors for guidance and insight into making the most of their SVSU experience and successfully transitioning into life after graduation.