One of us studied for a graduate degree in African politics and remains interested in both current political developments and the question of how to introduce American students to (some of) the history, politics, and cultures on the continent — which has more than 50 countries and is approaching 1 billion inhabitants.
At the risk of eliding too many topics and peoples under the label “Africa”, we hope you’ll forgive us using the shorthand of “African countries”, just as we godless, ahistorical Americans refer to “European countries” while knowing Belarus, Greece, and Denmark are quite different. (But, do also check out the criticism blog Africa Is a Country.)
With that prelude out of the way, we’d like to introduce you to Exploring Africa, a resource out of Michigan State University. Their mission (see block quote, below) is to provide high-quality K-12 teaching resources, and they have a federal mandate and funding to do so.
Exploring Africa contains three main sections or resources:
- Curriculum consists of 5 units of 30 modules in total, covering an introductory unit, history/social studies, the humanities, and regional and country lessons.
- Country Overview contains a clickable map of each country on the continent. Upon clicking a country, you’re taken to a page of country information, including a political map, links to background information (CIA World Factbook and many more), and a curated list of recent news articles.
- Special Topics covers some major issues like “Diamonds and Warfare”, the creation of the African Union, and more.
It’s a really neat, deep resource we hope you’ll explore.
Please — don’t be put off by the university-level affiliation or the fact that the introductory video begins with a white professor. These folks know the stereotypes and history they’re up against and they quickly get to resources that have been piloted by a diverse set of teachers in a diverse set of schools.
Exploring Africa Mission Statement
Exploring Africa is produced and developed by the African Studies Center (ASC) at Michigan State University in an effort to address the severe shortage of high quality African resources available to students and educators, particularly at the K-12 level. As an academic community comprised of more than 200 scholars who study Africa from a diversity of more than 20 disciplines, we are acutely aware of the need to provide learners and educators with resources that help them to engage Africa in a comprehensive manner, taking into account the continent’s rich diversity and complexities. Recognizing that for many people their only formal introduction to Africa will come in during their K-12 schooling, Exploring Africa is a serious attempt to provide this important community with curricular resources based on solid interdisciplinary scholarship that provide them with the opportunity to adequately engage Africa through knowledge, resources, and thoughtful learning activities that allow students to construct a more comprehensive and sympathetic appreciation for and understanding of Africa.
The MSU African Studies Center is a National Resource Center for the study of Africa (Title VI Center) that mandates the Center to actively engage the K-12 community in promoting the study of Africa.