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Africology, Ph.D.

Fall Semester
Africology, Ph.D. 12/01
School/College: College of Letters and Science

Department Links: Degrees Conferred:
  • Ph.D. in Africology
The Ph.D. in Africology is grounded in the axiomatic assumption that, as the imperatives of global integration significantly transform human relations, the twenty-first century will witness an exponential expansion of the institutional delivery of Africological knowledge. Across the planet today, Africa remains the only continent with a vast store of natural resources (e.g., uranium, oil, copper, nickel) that are underutilized. With the demand for energy increasing exponentially worldwide, knowledge and understanding of the cultures and political economies of African countries and societies clearly are in the self-interest of the global community. Because of this twenty-first century imperative, the Department of Africology has designed the Ph.D. degree around two concentrations: Political Economy and Public Policy, and Culture and Society: Africa and the African Diaspora.

The fields of concentration are the substantive core of the Ph.D. program. Political economy entails the normative and empirical relations of political and economic phenomena in given sociocultural contexts. Public policy entails the making of binding, authoritative decisions that produce, allocate, reproduce, and reallocate societal resources. Political, economic, cultural, and social elements interact continually in every political economy, and public policy substantially frames their patterns of interaction. Through a range of research methods and techniques, the concentration in political economy and public policy grounds students in local, national, and transnational political economies and public policies. Relevant courses and seminars in such fields as economics, political science, sociology, urban planning, geography, and history will be utilized.

All cultures share in common at least eight attributes. These are species life, species being, language, religion, food, literature-art-science-technology, institutions, and transgenerational memory. Systematic comparisons of these elements of cultures in Africa and in the African Diaspora worldwide afford sound explanations of, and novel insights into, the behaviors of Africans and their descent. This concentration in comparative cultures will enable students to scrutinize rigorously exchanges, admixtures, fusions, retentions, and disappearances of cultural elements in Africa and the African Diaspora in regard to their contemporary significance. Relevant courses and seminars in English, foreign languages and literatures, history, and sociology will complement those offered in the department.

Graduate Faculty

Sommers, Jeffrey, Ph.D., Northeastern University

Associate Professors
Gelan, Abera, Ph.D, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Wilson, Anika, Ph.D, University of Pennsylvania
Winkler, Erin, Ph.D., University of California-Berkeley

Assistant Professors
Kopkin, Nolan, Ph.D, Cornell University
McClerking, Harwood, Ph.D, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Mitchell-Walthour, Gladys, Ph.D., University of Chicago
St. Jacques, Ermitte, Ph.D., University of Florida

Doctor of Philosophy in Africology

To be considered for admission, an applicant must meet UWM Graduate Faculty requirements for admission plus the departmental requirements listed below. A master’s degree is not a prerequisite for this Ph.D. program.
  1. Possession of an overall undergraduate grade point average of 3.33 (B+)
  2. Submission of scores within the last five years from the Graduate Record Examination
  3. Submission of three letters of recommendation from individuals who are familiar with the applicant’s academic work
  4. Submission of a writing sample (10-15 pages) of the applicant’s written work, signaling one’s aptitude for graduate study
Normally, students are admitted only for the fall semester. However, in extraordinary circumstances, a student may be permitted to begin Ph.D. studies in the spring semester. The department does not offer a terminal M.A. degree. Students applying without a master’s degree are admitted to the Ph.D. program in the equivalent of master’s status.

Admission to the graduate program is based on a careful review of the applicant’s academic qualifications, and is highly competitive. Successful candidates usually have a high grade point average (GPA) in their undergraduate majors, as well as overall. There are, of course, a variety of factors that come into play over the years of an applicant’s studies, and so the admissions committee will consider closely a student’s academic profile, as well as accomplishments that are germane to his/her application.

It is the policy of the Graduate Faculty that “Applicants may be admitted with specific program-defined course deficiencies provided that the deficiencies amount to no more than two courses.

The student is expected to satisfy deficiency requirements within three enrolled semesters. No course credits earned in making up deficiencies may be counted as program credits required for the degree.”

Language or Mathematics/Statistics Proficiency
Students are expected to enter the Ph.D. program with proficiency in a language other than English and/or in mathematics/statistics. Students may satisfy the language requirement by passing a translation examination administered by a faculty member, or by completing, with a grade of C or better, the final course in a four-semester sequence in a language approved by the department. Native speakers of a departmentally approved language may petition the graduate advisor for an exemption to the foreign language requirement.

Proficiency in mathematics/statistics is indicated by completion of two courses at the upper-division level (numbered 300 and above or requiring junior standing) with at least a B average. Students who have not completed this requirement in the context of their undergraduate (or master’s degree) studies must take courses to satisfy the requirement during their Ph.D. studies.

Credits earned in satisfying this requirement do not count toward the required credits for the Ph.D. degree. The language or mathematics/statistics proficiency requirement must be completed prior to the doctoral preliminary examinations. Students are encouraged strongly to have the proficiency requirements completed by the time they take the comprehensive examination.

Major Professor as Advisor
Upon admission to the program, students are required to consult with the Director of Graduate Studies about the department’s expectations of them, as well as elucidate their own expectations of the department. Soon afterward, students must secure individual advisors, drawn from the department’s faculty.

The student must complete at least half of the graduate credits required for the Ph.D. in residence at UWM in doctoral status. In addition, the student must complete at least 8 graduate credits in each of two consecutive semesters, or 6 or more graduate credits in each of three consecutive semesters, exclusive of summer sessions.

Course of Study
The Ph.D. degree requires completion of at least 54 graduate credits—48 credits of coursework, and 6 dissertation credits. Students may count up to a maximum of 6 credits in dual level undergraduate/graduate courses toward the degree. Precise numbers of credits and actual course requirements will be determined after review of the applicant’s previous coursework.

Required Courses (12 credits)
During the first three semesters in the program, the following courses in Forms of Reasoning are required:

Africol 700 Foundations and Theories in Africology, 3 credits
Africol 701 Theories and Methods in Empirical Research in Africology, 3 credits
Africol 705 Classic Works: Intellectual Production in Africa and the Diaspora I
Africol 708 Critical Literary Theory I: Cultural Roots of Africological Literary Theory, 3 credits

Fields of Concentration
Following completion of the core courses, students must select one of two concentrations. The Department of Africology has been structured conceptually and empirically around two fields of concentration: Political Economy and Public Policy, and Culture and Society: Africa and the African Diaspora. Students will select one of these concentrations by the end of their comprehensive exams and will work with their faculty advisor to develop an appropriate program of study. In consultation with their faculty advisor, students may elect to take a concentration of 6 to 9 credits outside of the Department.

The Comprehensive Examination
Prior to the end of each entering student’s third semester of enrollment, s/he is required to take and pass the department’s graduate student comprehensive examination (written and oral) in order to continue his/her studies toward the Ph.D. degree. There are no exceptions to this requirement. The comprehensive examination is administered in the spring and fall semesters of each academic year.

The examination will be administered by three (3) members of the department’s faculty, who will grade the written work and conduct the orals. Members of the examination committee rotate each academic year. Students must pass the written examination to be eligible for the oral examination.

Students who pass the comprehensive examination are permitted to proceed toward the Ph.D. degree. Failing the exam will result in a recommendation to the Graduate School for the student’s academic dismissal. The comprehensive examination is not repeatable.

Upon passing the exam, students continue to take courses in the concentrations in preparation for the doctoral preliminary examinations and independent research.

The Doctoral Preliminary Examinations
Students will take written and oral doctoral preliminary examinations in two of their three fields of concentration, which they will select.

To be eligible to take the preliminary examinations, which are administered in the fall and spring semesters of each academic year, student must:
  • Be registered.
  • Have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 ( B), at the time of the examination.
  • Have completed all coursework—there shall be no incompletes (Is) at the time of the examination.
  • Have satisfied the foreign language or mathematics/statistics requirement.
  • Have made one presentation to the department’s faculty as a whole in the Departmental Faculty Colloquium Series. The purpose of the presentation is to: I) refine a student’s knowledge of a given subject; ii) socialize students in the rigors of making scholarly presentations on one’s research before future peers; and iii) prepare students for the demands of interviews for future jobs. A student will not be judged to either have passed or failed the presentation. Rather, s/he will be given constructive comments concerning the substance and style of his/her presentation. Generally, each colloquium will last for two (2) hours.
  • Have fulfilled all residency requirements.
  • Have secured, in addition to their primary departmental advisor, a secondary advisor from outside the department should they plan to use their extra-departmental field of concentration as one of the two written-examination fields.
Those who pass the written examinations with a grade of at least a B on each shall then proceed to take the oral examination. Should a student fail one of the two written examinations, s/he upon petition to the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Studies Committee, may be permitted to retake it at the next scheduled examination cycle. Students who fail both written examinations will not be permitted to retake them.

Failure of both written examinations, or the retake of a written examination, or the oral examination, will result in a recommendation to the Graduate School for the student’s academic dismissal. Students who pass the preliminary examinations shall proceed to prepare a dissertation prospectus.

The preliminary examinations must be taken within five years of enrollment in the Ph.D. program.

A student’s dissertation committee shall consist of four (4) graduate faculty members, including his/her major professor. At least three (3) of the four members must be from the Department of Africology.

Dissertation Prospectus (Proposal Hearing)
Prior to undertaking research for the dissertation, a student is required to prepare a dissertation prospectus, with the advice and consent of his/her advisor and Dissertation Committee. Acceptance of the dissertation proposal establishes an agreement between the student and the Dissertation Committee as to the nature and scope of the research to be conducted, and the procedure for completing the dissertation. Prior to the Dissertation Committee’s approval of the prospectus, research involving the use of human subjects must receive the approval of the Institutional Review Board.

Dissertator Status
Specific requirements which must be completed before a doctoral student qualifies for dissertator status are described on the Graduate School Doctoral Requirements page.

The dissertation is a major piece of original research representing a substantial contribution to an existing body of knowledge. The original research findings embodied in the dissertation should be acceptable for publication in a refereed journal. The student’s advisor and Dissertation Committee provide guidance in completing the dissertation. Once a student’s dissertation has been approved by his/her advisor and Dissertation Committee, the document, in approved Graduate School format, is ready to be filed with the Graduate School.

Time Limit
It is expected that students entering the program with a baccalaureate degree should normally complete their Ph.D. degree within six (6) years. However, because circumstances beyond a student’s control may prevent completion of requirements according to this timeline, students will be granted a maximum of ten years to complete the degree.

Schedule of Classes

The Schedule of Classes is a list of classes offered by term.


Courses numbered 300-699 are Undergraduate/Graduate. Courses numbered 700 and above are Graduate only.

300 Urban Violence. 3 cr. U/G.
Analysis of the nature, causes, and consequences of urban violence; the possibilities and limits of violence in promoting the good of blacks will be scrutinized. Prereq: jr st.

311 African Religious Thought and Social Organizations. 3 cr. U/G.
A critical analysis of foundations from which complex social structures and institutions evolved in the diverse societies of the Afroworld. Prereq: jr st.

319 African American Urban History. 3 cr. U/G.
A consideration of the contributions of blacks to the growth and development of the American city. Prereq: jr st.

321 Black Workers in the 21st Century. 3 cr. U/G.
Analysis of scientific and technological changes in America since 1900, and their qualitative as well as quantitative impact on black productivity and participation in the work force. Prereq: jr st.

322 Order and Disorder: The Quest for Social Justice. 3 cr. U/G.
An analysis of the forms, purposes, and effects of order and disorder in relation to black people's quest for social justice. Prereq: jr st.

325 Africa/China Relations. 3 cr. U/G.
Historical and emerging political and economic relationship between the African continent and China. Counts as a repeat of Africol 565 w/similar title. Prereq: jr st.

326 Economic Problems of Black Business. 3 cr. U/G.
Examination of major economic problems of black business; liquidity, credit, market shares, insurance, rents, mortgages, and location are analyzed in relation to black business performance. Prereq: jr st.

329 Economic Growth and Sustainable Development in Africa. 3 cr. U/G.
Economic development in African countries; poverty reduction strategies, role of education and health, Millennium Development Goals, agrarian systems, international trade; U.S. as key trading partner. Prereq: jr st.

344 Global Black Social Movements. 3 cr. U/G.
Analysis of leadership, ideology, and the structure of black political movements and organizations in the twentieth century. Prereq: jr st.

350 The Black Family. 3 cr. U/G.
An examination of the structure and functions of the black family in its urban and rural contexts. Prereq: jr st.

450 Cultural Transmissions: Black Africa and Black America. 3 cr. U/G.
A cross-national and cross-cultural comparison of the societies and cultures of black Americans and black Africans. Prereq: jr st.

451 Rites of Passage in Black Societies. 3 cr. U/G.
Foundations of the use of rites of passage in different societies throughout Africa and the African diaspora. Prereq: jr st.

497 Study Abroad: (Subtitled). 1-12 cr. U/G.
Designed to enroll students in UWM sponsored program before course work level, content, and credits are determined and/or in specially prepared program course work. May be retaken w/chg in topic. Prereq: jr st; acceptance for Study Abroad Prog.

545 Raising Children, 'Race-ing' Children. 3 cr. U/G.
Analysis of the social meaning of race in the US through the lens of childhood and adolescence; how children come to understand and navigate racism. Counts as a repeat of Africol 565 w/similar topic. Prereq: jr st or grad st.

565 Selected Texts/Topics in Africology: (Subtitled). 3 cr. U/G.
Examination of selected problems, issues, and themes in Africology. May be retaken w/chg in topic to 6 cr max. Prereq: jr st.

700 Foundations and Theories in Africology. 3 cr. G.
Seminar on historical, theoretical and institutional development of Africology. Topics examined will include Pan-Africanism, Black Feminism, Afrocentrism, Diaspora Theory, Critical Race Theory, and others. Prereq: grad st

701 Theories and Methods in Empirical Research in Africology. 3 cr. G.
Applicability of particular empirical theories and qualitative/quantitative methods to a range of substantive problems and issues pertaining to peoples of African descent. Prereq: grad st; approp upper-level math or stats course

705 Classic Works: Intellectual Production in Africa and the Diaspora I. 3 cr. G.
Conceptual and value foundations of normative theory in relation to forms of social organization. Prereq: grad st

706 Classic Works: Intellectual Production in Africa and the Diaspora II. 3 cr. G.
Advanced study of elements of normative theory such as justice, equality, freedom, and obligation in societal construction and reconstruction in Africa and the Diaspora. Prereq: grad st; Africol 705(P)

708 Critical Literary Theory I: Cultural Roots of Africological Literary Theory. 3 cr. G.
Exploitation and oppression as primary sources of Africological literary theory; cultural components include identity, enemy, objective, strategy, and tactics. Prereq: grad st

709 Critical Literary Theory II: Modern Concepts in the African World. 3 cr. G.
Intensive examination of cardinal elements in critical literary theory in the context of ideas and behaviors that have shaped the lives of Africans and their descent historically. Prereq: grad st; Africol 708(P)

799 Graduate Independent Study. 1-3 cr. G.
Independent work supervised by a member of the graduate faculty. Retakable w/ chg in topic to 9 cr max. Prereq: grad st; cons instr.

800 Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods in Africology. 3 cr. G.
Various qualitative methods and methodological issues germane to Africology, including archival research, interviewing, focus groups, participant observation, and analysis of representations. Prereq: grad st.

804 Qualitative Interviewing and Grounded Theory. 3 cr. G.
In-depth, hands-on examination of qualitative interviewing in research. Students design, conduct, and analyze qualitative interviews using grounded theory. Seminar-style course. No cr for students who have cr in Africol 880 w/same topic. Prereq: grad st; prior coursework in qualitative methods or cons instr.

812 Political Economy: Conceptual. 3 cr. G.
Advanced analysis of varieties of conceptual frameworks in the literature of political economy. Prereq: grad st

814 Public Policies, Development, and Underdevelopment in Africa & the Diaspora. 3 cr. G.
Investigation into public policy and development in Africa and the Diaspora. Prereq: grad st

816 Political Economy of Development in African Countries. 3 cr. G.
The importance of political institutions in shaping economic performance to advance understanding of economic development in the context of sub-Saharan African countries. Prereq: grad st.

817 Political Economy of Development in African Countries II. 3 cr. G.
Growth-enhancing governance, economic performance, and economic development in sub-Saharan African Countries. Counts as repeat of Africol 880 w/same topic. Prereq: grad st; Africol 816(P) or cons instr.

818 Race Matters: Government and Politics in Latin America and the Caribbean. 3 cr. G.
Presence, role, status, situation, and conditions of Afro-Americans (Afro-Latins and Afro-Caribbeans) in the Americas, from the federal republic of Mexico to the Argentine republic. Prereq: grad st

820 Political Economy of Income and Wealth Inequality. 3 cr. G.
Seminar on economic inequality, with special emphasis on the United States.No cr for students who have cr in Africol 880 w/same topic. Prereq: grad st.

821 Race and Inequality. 3 cr. G.
Discrimination and racial inequality along socio-economic dimensions. Prereq: grad st

834 Seminar on Slavery. 3 cr. G.
Culture and political economy of slavery; historical context for American slavery; slavery as political and economic issue; social-psychology of slavery; persistence of slavery's legacies. Prereq: grad st

836 Comparative Social Institutions in African World Communities. 3 cr. G.
Origins, nature, and functioning of social institutions in African world communities; continuity and change; development of community and cultural identities of Africans and their descendents; theoretical/analytical approaches. Prereq: grad st

837 Memory and Tradition: Identity-Making and Memory in the African Diaspora. 3 cr. G.
Role of memory and tradition in forming collective and individual identities in the African Diaspora; symbolic value and functional aspects; focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Prereq: grad st

840 Healing Traditions in the African Diaspora. 3 cr. G.
Advanced study of healing traditions, practices, and rituals throughout the African Diaspora. Prereq: grad st

845 Race/Ethnicity and the Psychology of Oppression. 3 cr. G.
Psychological processes involved in creating and sustaining oppressive societies; emphasis on the role of racism societally and the impact of oppression on individuals and groups. Prereq: grad st

851 African-American Literary Theory and Criticism. 3 cr. G.
An intensive study of historical and contemporary trends in African-American literary criticism and theory. Prereq: grad st

852 Folklore in the African World: (Subtitled). 3 cr. G.
A close scrutiny of a particular forms of folk literature of people of African descent. Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max. Prereq: grad st.

862 Development of African-American Children in Urban and Rural Areas. 3 cr. G.
Developmental processes facing African-American children, including identity development and racial socialization, impact of environment, notion of 'a single African-American identity;' theories and methodological approaches. Prereq: grad st

865 The Quest for Pan-Africanism. 3 cr. G.
History and future motion of movement to create a united Africa; political, economic, and social barriers to unification; united Africa in the global community. Prereq: grad st

866 Black Power Reconsidered. 3 cr. G.
The salience of black power in the context of campaigns for educational equality, urban politics, economic justice, residential segregation, urban renewal, anti-colonial struggle, and cultural politics. No cr for students w/cr in Africol 880 w/similar title. Prereq: grad st.

867 Problems in African American Urban History. 3 cr. G.
Ways scholars have conceptualized and interpreted 20th century African American urban life; assumptions and logic that undergird various approaches; potential intellectual and political implications. No cr for students w/cr in Africol 880 with similar title. Prereq: grad st.

868 Black Intellectuals and the Public Sphere. 3 cr. G.
How black intellectuals have defined knowledge and positioned themselves politically and professionally; the various spheres in which they operate. Prereq: grad st.

880 Seminar on Issues in Africology: (Subtitled). 3 cr. G.
Research seminar on issues of interest in Africology. Prereq: grad st.

888 Candidate for Degree. 0 cr. G.
Available for graduate students who must meet minimum credit load requirement. Fee for 1 cr will be assessed. Prereq: grad st.

990 Dissertation Research. 1-3 cr. G.
Research or dissertation work for students in the doctoral program. Retakable as necessary to complete the dissertation. Prereq: grad st; cons instr.