Study Abroad
African and African American Institute (AAAI)

Those Who Learn, Must Teach (Ethiopian proverb)

The African and African American Institute consist of two linked experiences, the Ghana Study Abroad Program and the African and African American Studies Institute (AAASI). The African and African American Institute is grounded in the belief and proven research that history and culture intersect to create a foundation for any group's identity, particularly in a diverse society like that of the United States. A strong personal and group identity is a necessary support for achievement in any educational context. Educators note that the absence of content on a group's history and culture promotes a sense of that group's invisibility in an educational community. K-12 teachers also argue that, more specifically, the lack of African and African American content is one of the leading factors in underachievement by African American students. The African and African American Institute (AAAI) uses a multi-tiered learning experience to support an interdisciplinary, intergenerational approach to learning about African and African American history and culture.  AAAI builds on collaboration between the University of Memphis's College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, the Center for International Programs, University of Ghana faculty and area schools. 

This summer program is centered on enhancing knowledge of African and African American history and culture. Local high school teachers and University of Memphis students will participate in an interdisciplinary study abroad program in Ghana (West Africa) that will enrich their understanding of Ghanaian history and culture. They will offer a summer institute for high school students from several local schools that will expand their knowledge of the history and culture of people of African descent living in Africa and in the United States. The overall result will be a learning experience that significantly prepares these secondary school and university students for the global lifestyles they will experience in the future.

The African and African American Institute will provide an opportunity for local high school teachers to develop a rich curriculum that incorporates their experiences in Ghana and their interactions with university specialists in African and African American history, literature and the arts. The teachers will use this curriculum in the AAASI and in their own classrooms. Meaningful immersion experiences like those provided by the African and African American Institute will assure deeper and more authentic intercultural understandings.


The AAAI seeks to provide an interdisciplinary learning experience in African and African American history and culture to area educators, college students and high school students.


  1. To enrich knowledge and the understanding of African history and culture among university students, high school students and teachers.
  2. To provide University of Memphis students and Memphis and Shelby County area teachers with an immersion experience in Ghana (West Africa) where they will learn about African history and culture.
  3. To equip area school teachers with a curriculum that enables them to bring African and African American history and culture into their schools and classrooms.
  4. To create a sustainable collaborative educational relationship between the University of Memphis, the University of Ghana, the Ho Airfield School (Volta region, Ghana) and high school students and educators from Memphis and Shelby County.

African and African American Institute Components

Ghana Study Abroad Program (University of Memphis Students and Local High School Teachers): With support from an outside source, the Institute will provide scholarships for University of Memphis students and high school teachers, led by University of Memphis faculty, to participate in an immersion program in Ghana. In addition to lectures and site visits participants will engage in service learning activities at the Ho Airfield School in the Volta region of Ghana. The high school teachers and the University of Memphis students will develop curriculum based on their experiences.

U of M students interested in participating in the AAAI may complete a program application at

African and African American Studies Institute (High School Students): A two-week summer institute will be offered for area high school students at the University of Memphis campus from June 30 - July 12, 2014. The institute will be offered after the Ghana study abroad experience. Participants from the Ghana study abroad experience will work together to present the curriculum they have developed to the high school students.

High school students completing the Institute can earn a half credit for high school social studies and dual enrollment credit.

The Curriculum of the high school program includes:

  • In-Class Instruction
  • Guest Lectures
  • Tours to Historical Sites in Memphis
  • Cultural and Arts Experiences
  • Historical Studies using Original Source Documents (UofM Collections)
  • Computer Access on Campus

Sample Daily Schedule for the AAASI:

  • 9:00 – 10:30            Class taught by Classroom Teachers
  • 10:30 -11:15           Guest Lecture from Faculty and Community Invitees
  • 11:15-Noon             Lunch
  • Noon-3:00               Supervised Library Research

AAASI participants will complete a project of their choosing that reflects their learning experiences.

Exhibition of Learning: The Institute participants will create a mural entitled "From Memphis to Ghana" as part of a culminating project. They will also present a drumming and dance performance based on techniques taught to them by participants in the Ghana Study Abroad program.

For more information on the AAAI please contact the Study Abroad Office at

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Last Updated: 4/14/14