Welcome to the Institute of African Studies

Established in 1959, the Institute of African Studies (IAS) at Columbia is one of the few autonomous African studies institutes dedicated exclusively to the study of Africa in the United States today.

IAS is a dynamic intellectual space devoted to interdisciplinary thinking about issues facing the continent both historically and in the contemporary moment. It seeks to explore all aspects of the continent and its oceanic connections as well as its rich philosophical, religious, humanistic, and artistic resources. 

Its aim is to enrich both public and academic understanding of Africa's vast intellectual, cultural, and artistic resources. Through a blend of academic programs, co-curricular activities, and global partnerships, the Institute strives to ignite lively, interdisciplinary conversations and exchanges.

IAS serves as Columbia University's central hub for Africa-centered academic programming and research. Collaborating with various departments and groups across the campus, IAS fosters learning, dialogue, and exchange surrounding Africa.

External Grants and Collaborations

IAS has secured numerous grants from prestigious institutions, fueling collaborations with Universite Paris 1, CEMAf, and Sciences Po. These grants have facilitated intellectual ties and initiatives in African education, public health, history, and international affairs. From these research collaborations, it has supported the publication of 12 edited books, journal articles, and numerous conferences on issues of citizenship, religion, philosophy, art, and politics.

Preparing Future Africanist Scholars

IAS seeks to enrich the educational experiences of Columbia students as they train for careers in academic research and teaching, development, diplomacy, governance, social work, journalism, law, human rights, and business. IAS offers graduate students the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of Africa through its Graduate Graduate Certificate in African Studies.  For students at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), IAS administers the Africa Specialisation.  

In addition to Africa-related courses, students can engage in undergraduate and graduate classes on Africa across the campus, and can pursue a major in African studies through Middle Eastern South Asian and African Studies (MESAAS). Students can receive language training in Wolof, Arabic, Pulaar, Swahili, Zulu, and Yoruba through MESAAS and the Language Resource Center (LRC).

Interdisciplinary Partnerships and Dynamic Programming

IAS partners with departments, centers, institutes, and student groups across the university to reach new audiences and facilitate an exchange of knowledge about Africa. These include the Columbia Global Centers in Nairobi and Tunisia as well as Sciences Po, Paris 1 University, the Centre d'Etudes des Mondes Africains (CEMAf), the French American Cultural Exchange (FACE), and IFRA in Nigeria to support collaborative research groups and conferences on Africa, and to facilitate faculty and student exchange between these sites. IAS has a strong record for collaboration with institutions across New York.

Global Perspectives on Africa

IAS serves as a central forum for critical conversations on Africa's history, diaspora, and global impact. With the theme "Africa and the World," IAS navigates the global turn, discussing issues such as the Global Financial Crisis, Global Aid in Africa, and the Arts of Citizenship in African Cities.