The GW Africana Studies Program was founded in 1989 in response to student appeals for more black studies' courses at the university. Professor Alison Brooks of the Department of Anthropology and Professor Miriam V. Dow of the Department of English initiated the program, and were joined in their efforts by other esteemed scholars from across the social sciences and humanities. The founders committed to developing a program that cut across national and disciplinary boundaries and to creating an intellectual space where Africa and the African diaspora would be studied from multiple geographical points and academic perspectives.
Today, the program continues to blur disciplinary and geographical boundaries. Faculty have expertise in anthropology, ethnomusicology, African American studies, American studies and much more. Immersed in the internationally and culturally diverse city of Washington, D.C., students are encouraged to make connections between the classroom and the larger community.