Institute of African Studies - Columbia University

Student Groups

The purpose of the African Students Association is to provide a forum for the meaningful discussion of the political, social, and cultural landscape of Africa. We aim to create a culturally enlightened community on campus by educating people about Africa. We welcome all people interested in Africa and African issues. President: Yemisi Olorunwunmi,

 Baraza Ijtihad is a salon-styled forum, with both online and on campus elements for students at the Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies Department at Columbia University. The forum supports intellectual exchange on issues relevant to the past, present and future of the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. The forum’s name and imprint mirror the long history of intellectual, commercial and cultural exchange between these three regions. The Swahili word baraza traces its lineage from Persian and evokes the sense of a public meeting as well as the physical space where meetings take place. It finds a cognate in the Hindi/Urdu word bazar that is commonly employed across South Asia. The Arabic ijtihad means the struggle of independent reason and critical self-reflection over convention and habit. Through the intersection and interaction of the timeless and timely, the local and the global, the dynamic and the rigorous, from the market of ideas and exchange that BI offers, the intellectual can expect to leave with new units of analysis, new methodologies, and new forms of presentation responsive to contemporary social realities and current technological imperatives. 

Graduate Committee on African Studies (GCAS)
Graduate Committee on African Studies (GCAS) is an interdisciplinary graduate student led committee on African Studies. It provides a forum for graduate students across the campus to engage in dialogue on the field of African studies. Past GCAS events have included talks by scholars in the field as well as workshops devoted to the learning and enhancement of new research methods and skills. For more information about CGAS, or to join the Committee, please contact: Pandora O'Mahony-Adams at

The SIPA Pan-Afican Network (SPAN) is a student group based in the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University. SPAN provides an informal community of support and provides a platform for students interested in the economic, political, and social development of Africa and its Diaspora.  SPAN organizes events throughout the year related to various topics of relevance to Africa. These range from cultural events, such as bi-annual Taste of Africa, to educational conferences, such as the African Economic Forum. We encourage anyone with an interest to join SPAN and participate in our events. SPAN is open an open membership group with SIPA students from diverse backgrounds, interests, and disciplines (economic and political development; human rights; economic policy; environmental policy; security policy; media, etc). 

Student Spotlight