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African Diaspora and the World (ADW) Program

The African Diaspora and the World (ADW) Program at Spelman College is centered on the experiences of African descended people. ADW 111 and 112 courses are required the first year, a two-semester course sequence that speaks to students’ experiences as Black women. Students learn about themselves, their history, and place in the African diaspora and the world. Many alumnae who took the ADW courses refer to them as being the most formative educational influence in their lives.

Course Descriptions 


ADW 111

(No Prerequisite)

ADW 111 examines the major themes associated with the African Diaspora within a global context and from interdisciplinary and gender-informed perspectives. Topics examined this semester include: various forms of knowledge construction; issues of identity; the intersection of race, gender, sexuality, and social class; and the varying responses to the phenomena of forced and voluntary migration, displacement, conditions of servitude, and community formation.

ADW 112

(Prerequisite: ADW 111 or permission of course director)

ADW 112, the second half of the two-semester ADW sequence, continues to examine major themes associated with the African Diaspora within a global context and from interdisciplinary and genderinformed perspectives. This course examines the scramble for Africa and colonialism and considers various manifestations of pan- Africanism and resistance. Specific topics examined include Garveyism and periods of cultural efflorescence such as the New Negro, Negrismo, and Négritude movements; liberation and anti-colonial struggles in Africa; Black Power; the U.S. civil rights movement and the turbulence of the 1960s; and contemporary issues related to the African diaspora, globalization and the environment. Key terms of engagement include citizenship, colonialism, imperialism, decolonization and liberation movements, resistance, resilience, pan-Africanism, neocolonialism, environmental justice, ecofeminism and transnationalism.

ADW Event Highlights


A Conversation with Tara Roberts, National Geographic Explorer (Spring 2022)

Drs. Francesina Jackson and Pushpa Parekh talk with National Geographic explorer and storyteller Tara Roberts about her work searching for and documenting slave trade shipwrecks around the world.

Black scuba divers across the world are searching for buried shipwrecks from the transatlantic slave trade, when millions of enslaved Africans were trafficked to the Americas during the 15th to the 19th centuries. A new six-part podcast series, Into the Depths, follows National Geographic Explorer Tara Roberts as she sets off on the journey of a lifetime to meet the divers, marine archaeologists, descendants of those brought over on ships, and historians investigating the lost stories of the slave trade.

Venerating Ancestors: Experiencing Ritual & Ceremony in the Global Community of Afrika (Fall 2022)

The ancestral reverence tradition is universal and has been the social force that reinforces cultural identity, values of collectivism, and societal integration. It honors the ancestors’ commitment to liberation, self-determination, freedom, free will and sovereignty. The goal is to increase students’ knowledge of the significance of the Ancestors. Spelman College students, faculty, and staff received invaluable information, resources, and spiritual & cultural insights into our various Global African communities. Faculty organizers of the event: Drs. Kwame Kalimara, Beatriz Morales Faba and Rev. Burdette Lowe.

Author Dr. Carole Boyce Davies and Faculty Panel (Spring 2023)

Dr. Carole Boyce Davies is the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters and Professor of Literatures in English and Africana Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, Cornell University. Extending her research on writing by Black women around the world, Dr. Carole Boyce Davies examines the stories of Black women political leaders in Africa and in the global African Diaspora. The book draws lessons from figures including Shirley Chisholm, the first woman to run for president of the United States (in 1972) on a leading party ticket; Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela-Mandela of South Africa; and assassinated Brazilian politician Mariella Franco.

Faculty panel: Drs. Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Siga Jagne, author Lia Viera and Mr. Ludes Lopes, translator of Portuguese to English

Author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (Spring 2023)

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author, poet, and teacher of writing. She presented on her latest novel, Independence, exploring lndo-Pak Partition. The discussion will be open to exploring & connecting the novel to ADW topics of cultural resistance and resilience, centering of marginalized voices, etc. She is an award-winning author, poet, and teacher of writing. Her work has been published in over 50 magazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker, and her writing has been included in over 50 anthologies.

ADW Celebration of International Poetry Day! (Spring 2023)

Guest Poets

  • Dr. Roberto Eduardo Gibraltarik is a Lecturer of Spanish and African Diaspora and the World, Spelman College.
  • Ms. Ariana Benson is a graduate of Spelman College, 2019.
  • Mr. Utpal Dutta is the community member of AD-ILCC committee (on human rights)
  • Dr. Pushpa Parekh, Professor of English and Director of African Diaspora and the World, Spelman College.
  • Ms. Kayla Shannon is a junior at Spelman College pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

ADW Vision and Mission

The overarching vision of ADW is to prepare students to develop a perception of themselves as citizens of a changing and increasingly compressed world, to sharpen awareness of diverse cultural and historical experiences and to promote the association between learning and social change.

The more specific mission of the African Diaspora and the World Program is to offer a gender-informed, interdisciplinary study of the histories and cultures of Africa and its diasporas. Particular emphasis is placed on the intersections and connections among the various communities of African descent globally.

Student Learning Objectives

Through scholarly and experiential engagement, the program seeks to prepare students to become members of a world community committed to positive social change. Building on discussions of epistemology, pedagogy and other critical terms of engagement in ADW 111 and ADW 112, students at the end of the two-course sequence will be able to do the following:

  • Analyze historical and modern diasporas in terms of international migration, movement and community formation.
  • Critically analyze and evaluate how internal and external power relations have shaped and impacted Africa and its diasporas.
  • Examine, interrogate and deconstruct dominant knowledge systems about Africa and its diasporas.
  • Identify how Africa and African diasporan communities have shaped the modern world.
  • Analyze categories of identity, especially in relation to difference and the construction of gender, race, ethnicity, class and citizenship.
  • Identify in the context of Africa and its diasporas the link between degradation of the environment and human exploitation.

Learning Experiences and Activities

ADW is a reading and writing-infused course that requires students to develop well-informed questions about course content and respond to such questions in written, oral and digital form. Students create and participate in the following:
  • Short reflective free-responses
  • Essays
  • Museum audio-narratives
  • Reading logs
  • Map quizzes
  • Informal discussions
  • Formal class presentations
Bonwire Village Ghana May 2011

Bonwire Village, Ghana, May 14, 2011

Do you want to deepen your knowledge of the diaspora? Explore our African Diaspora Studies (ADS) Minor.

Contact Us

African Diaspora & The World
Giles Hall

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ADW In Action