HIST252: Modern Africa

Course Syllabus for "HIST252: Modern Africa"

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This course will introduce you to the major events and dynamics of three distinct periods in African history, namely (1) the colonial period, (2) the era of decolonization, and (3) the post-colonial period.  We will survey African history from the “Scramble for Africa” in the late nineteenth century and the establishment of colonial rule to the challenges of independence spanning roughly the last five decades, learning about the major political, economic, and social changes that took place in Africa during these periods. In exploring the dominant trends and patterns in African history during these time periods, we will focus primarily on sub-Saharan Africa.  While the northern African states of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt share many of the same experiences with sub-Saharan Africa, the histories between northern Africa and sub-Saharan Africa (as exemplified by the strong Arab influence in northern Africa and the natural dividing line of the Sahara desert) are significantly different to warrant this separation.  Nonetheless, an occasional reference to events in northern Africa will assist our exploration of sub-Saharan Africa. The course will be chronologically and thematically structured.  Each unit will include representative primary-source documents that illustrate important overarching political, economic, and social themes in modern African history, such as the effects of World War I and World War II, the rise of African nationalism, decolonization and wars for independence, the influence of the Cold War, the problems of development, and the causes and consequences of the civil wars that have plagued African countries in the latter twentieth century.  By the end of the course, you will understand the historical origins of the challenges faced today by independent African states.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Place the events and dynamics that defined Africa in the twentieth century into the broader context of African history.
  • Explain and analyze the causes of European imperialism and its short and long-term effects on African societies.
  • Compare and contrast key African responses to colonial rule.
  • Identify and describe the effects of the First and Second World Wars on Africa.
  • Discuss the causes and processes of decolonization in Africa.
  • Identify and describe the major political, economic, and social challenges to African states and societies after independence.
  • Recognize and expound upon the linkages between Africa’s history and its current challenges.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Be competent in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

√    Have completed the following courses from “The Core Program” of the History discipline: HIST103 and HIST104.

Course Information

Welcome to HIST252.  Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements.

Course Designers: Christa Dierksheide, Jonathon Robins, and Ulrike Gutberlet

Primary Resources: This course is composed of a range of different free, online materials.  Among the most frequently used sources are Michigan State University’s “Exploring Africa,” Fordham University: Paul Halsall’s (ed.) Internet African History Sourcebookthe BBC World Service’s “The Story of Africa,” and West Chester University: Dr. Jim Jones’ lectures.  These materials are supplemented by a range of scholarly articles, book excerpts, audio and video clips, and other readings.

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials.  The cumulative nature of history studies in general, and in this course in particular, will require you to return to previous units and/or subunits to undertake comparative analysis.  It is this progression that yields a more thorough understanding of historical trends, patterns, and discontinuities in sub-Saharan Africa.

In order to successfully complete this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam.  Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course should take you approximately 128.5 hours to complete.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself.  For example, Unit 1 should take you 6 hours.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to work through subunits 1.1, 1.2, and half of subunit 1.3 (a total of 3.5 hours) on Monday night; the remaining half of subunit 1.3 and 1.4 (a total of 2.5 hours) on Tuesday night; etc.

Tips/Suggestions: Before you begin this course, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with a contemporary map of the African continent.  The resources you will be using repeatedly reference places in Africa. A map exercise is provided for you to test your knowledge of African geography.  Additionally, the reference sheet of historical and contemporary place names in Africa will be particularly useful throughout the course (see Unit 1).

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.