Course Description: Research Methods in Africology (RMA) is a crash course that focuses on teaching students how scholars of Africana Studies think, make arguments, conduct research, and disseminate their findings. This course provides a scientific and African-Centered approach to the study of history and social phenomena as it pertains to African people worldwide. RMA enables students to develop their understanding of research methods, and confidence in designing a research project, choosing and executing appropriate methods, and assessing its intellectual/academic rigor. Systematic analyses of social life and history are important for a number of reasons. Systematic research replaces common sense conclusions or observations that are not accurate. Much of what we see, as well, in the popular media is incorrect, misleading, or biased. This course provides an overview of social research methods by studying ways researchers formulate research questions, design a research project, collect data, measure aspects of social life, and interpret results.
This course addresses obstacles and opportunities for collecting and interpreting data broadly in the social sciences, and specifically in the field of Africology. Students will read and discuss how research on race, ethnicity, integration and migration is conducted by examining the relevant literature, and interrogating the main methodological questions that need to be answered when conducting primary and original research. Quantitative and qualitative research methods will be presented and discussed. Classes will include a combination of lectures, film, class discussions, short quizzes, and research assignments. Your active class participation is an important component of the course.
Course Goals: Students will learn what interdisciplinary research means and how to choose appropriate methods to answer their research questions. Students will be introduced to a range of qualitative research strategies and sources, including ethnography, oral history, archival investigation, and textual analysis. Students will learn how to design a research project using one or more of these methods.
The course will appeal to those of you who require an understanding of research approaches and skills, and importantly an ability to deploy them in your studies or in your professional lives. In particular, this course will aid those of you who have to conduct research as part of your own self-improvement who may not have access to research methods courses. No prior knowledge or experience in research is required to take this course and as such, the course is for everyone.
Required text: Serie McDougal, III. Research Methods in Africana Studies. 1st Edition. (Peter Lang, 2014, New York, Washington, DC).
Week 1: Introduction: Why we conduct research
Week 2: The importance of the scientific method, Debate, and Logical Fallacies
Week 3: Africology and the Science of Knowing
(Assignment: supply research question. See McDougal Chapter 5)
Week 4: Methodology in Africology
Week 5: Research Design
Week 6: Literature and Peer Review
Week 7: History and Memory
Week 8: Physical Anthropology and African History
Week 9: Turn in final project