Walsh School of Foreign Service

AfSP Director’s Message


Prof. Smith Profile Picture

It is an honor and a privilege to take on the position of Director of African Studies at this time in our University and around the world. I am grateful that I take the helm of a Program that has benefited from the capable and visionary leadership of Dr. Scott Taylor, who for thirteen years has expanded and deepened our work in education, research and activism in interdisciplinary African Studies. Dr. Taylor, as well as Dr. Gwendolyn Mikell and the other Directors before, built a Program that centers the rigorous scholarly study of the diverse, dynamic and rapidly developing countries of Africa. As the product of an African Studies degree myself, I can say that we truly have one of the most critical and diverse groups of faculty and students studying the Continent. I am proud of what our Program contributes to the study of the humanities, social sciences and the natural sciences through the focus on regionally-relevant languages, histories, cultures and sociopolitical knowledge-generation from Africa. 

We are a Program that includes undergraduate and graduate coursework, programming around Africa-focused topics, language study and study abroad and other experiential study about and in Africa. With our Swahili language program as our anchor, we are excited to have students returning on our Study program in Kenya in mid-May and on our Study Abroad in Tanzania program for five weeks in May through June. There are also programs run by other faculty in Zambia, South Africa and on the coast in Kenya. Our academic-year study abroad programs in Ghana, Cameroon, Botswana, South Africa and elsewhere in Africa are also back on track and we are excited for those learning opportunities for our students. 

Centering Africa within all of this has always been at the core of what we do, and so our courses and programming aim to foster those connections and the dialogue and exchange that can ensue. I thank our faculty for their outstanding work in building exciting and challenging courses, and helping to bring these speakers to our community, and I will work with our students, faculty, alumni and others to grow our Program into a force for a global Africa-focused agenda in the coming years.

Prof. Lahra Smith