The African continent is often presented by the media (and many others) as a land of war, famine, disease, corruption, and underdevelopment. This course will present Africa’s contemporary reality – the positive as well as the negative – by examining major current issues after briefly surveying Africa’s history, geography, societies, culture, and development beginning from the pre-colonial era up to today. Themes covered will include: political development; civil war and foreign intervention; democracy and governance (including corruption, fundamental freedoms and gender issues); economic development and poverty reduction (including the role played by humanitarian intervention and bilateral/multilateral aid agencies); terrorism; the environment; and public health. The course will also examine Africa’s role in setting global policy priorities.
Types of Assignments:
Country Briefings: “Desk Officers” are the U.S. State Department’s experts on specific countries and are available to respond to U.S. officials on issues concerning “their” country. Each of you will become a “desk officer” for a specific African country you wish to cover. You will stay up to date on events in your country, present recent developments in your country using various communication tools (oral, social media, written diplomatic cables).
Final Research Paper: You will write a final paper on the country you select and expand on a specific issue or sector (e.g., petroleum in Nigeria; education in Rwanda, etc.); or (2) discuss a thematic issue (e.g., conflict minerals, hunger, terrorism, refugees) either continent wide or specific to a country or sub-region (e.g., the problem of narco states in West Africa). As part of the grade, you will also make a five (5) minute oral presentation of your paper near the end of the term. After each presentation, the other students will be encouraged to ask questions.