The mission of the Africana Studies program at Virginia Tech is to critically assess present cultural and structural forces and the historical conditions that have given rise to the economic, legal, psychological, educational, social and moral status of people of African descent as well as Africans on the continent and throughout the Diaspora.  The interdisciplinary curriculum is composed of courses in literature, history, sociology, political science, religion, and gender relations.

Affiliated Center

Center for Race and Social Policy Research

The Race and Social Policy Research Center (RSP), presently a College Center, was formed to fulfill two primary goals: (1) to conduct and disseminate original research in the area of public policy with a direct emphasis on race and ethnicity; and (2) to prepare promising graduate students to think and speak critically, plan quality research, and contribute to public-policy discussions related to race and ethnicity.

The Center promotes a broad and inclusive concept of race and ethnicity, which include African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, European Americans, Latinos, and bi-racial and multi-racial identities.  RSP research projects involve the development and evaluation of public policy across different racial and ethnic contexts and within myriad public policy venues, including welfare, employment, education, and health, as well as community outreach.

VT Faculty and Staff

Wornie Reed, Director and Professor, 564B McBryde Hall (540) 231-3496

Shelton Norwood, Administrative Assistant, 564 McBryde Hall (540) 231-6107

Donald Shoemaker, Professor - Sociology (540) 231-6046

Dale Wimberley, Associate Professor - Sociology (540) 231-8960

Graduate Certificate in Race and Social Policy

The Race and Social Policy Certificate Program is a 12-hour concentration that allows graduate students to develop a deeper understanding of issues of race, ethnicity and culture, especially as they relate to public policy. This credential is applicable to law, secondary and higher education, human resources, criminal justice, health care, housing, and welfare, among others. The overarching aim of the program is to provide a coherent, interdisciplinary grounding in race and social policy scholarship and to create an intellectual community among faculty and graduate students sharing similar scholarly interests.

Admission Requirements:

All graduate students at Virginia Tech may be admitted to the Race and Social Policy certificate program. Decisions for admission to the certificate program for non-degree seeking students will be made by the Sociology Graduate Admissions Committee, based on transcripts, a writing sample, and statement of purpose.

Course Requirements

RSP concentration students are required to complete SOC 6984 - Special Study: Survey of Race and Social Policy in the U.S. (3 credits), plus 9 additional credits in approved graduate-level (5000 and above) electives.  In addition to the pre-approved courses listed below, other courses may be approved by the Director upon review of a course syllabus to ascertain that sufficient attention is given to issues to race and ethnicity in the respective courses. Transfer courses from other institutions will be considered if syllabi are available.

Certificate Application

After courses are completed, download the Certificate Application form, complete it, and email it, or bring it to the Center for Race and Social Policy Research at 564 McBryde Hall, 225 Stanger Street, Blacksburg, VA 24061.


Approved Courses

A. Required Core Course

AFST 5984: Special Study: Survey of Race and Social Policy in the U.S. (3 credits)


B. Elective Courses

AFST 5314: Theories in Africana Studies

AFST 5354: Topics in Africana Studies

AFST 5434: History of Africana People

HIST 5114: The U.S. to 1877

HIST 5674: Civil Rights Movement (offered every other year)

HIST 5914: Race and Slavery in Comparative Perspectives

HD 5124: Social Policy and Aging (Pre-req: HD 5104)

HD 5634: Legislative Policy in Human Development

SOC 5034: Social Inequality (offered every other year)

SOC 5917: Aging in Social Context (offered every other year)

SOC 5984: Race and Social Inequality (offered every two years)

SOC 5414: Crime, Control, and Social Inequality

SOC 6214: Race and Mental Health (offered every other year)

Current Research and Outreach

Blacks in Virginia: Issues and Trends

  • Education
  • Economics
  • Health and Medical Care
  • Criminal Justice
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Farming and Agriculture


Labor Market Discrimination

  • The Continuing Costs of Labor Market Discrimination against African Americans


Cancer Prevention/Intervention

The Urban Cancer Project is a video-based approach to addressing African American cancer disparities.  It was developed through collaboration     with a video-production company, Public Health Television, Inc., and the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University.


We conducted 44 focus group sessions with residents of Cleveland's public housing community to better understand barriers that discourage low-income African Americans from getting screened for cancer, adhering to treatment, or participating in clinical trials. Transcripts of these sessions were analyzed to produce culturally relevant video messages, which then aired on local television.  With this approach we also produced a video for cultural competence training of physicians who treat cancer, and another video for African American patients, their families and community to help them better understand the importance of cancer research and participating on clinical trials.


Each set of videos was tested and shown to be effective in influencing behavior as well as attitudes.  We won two Regional Emmys for the television messages, which increased requests for screening at selected neighborhood health centers.  We also won a second place National Headliners Award for public service for television programming.  The clinical trials video had positive effects in the quasi-experimental field test and in an experimental clinical test.  In a test of adults over 40 who ere not cancer patients there was a 19.3 percentage point increase in persons expressing willingness to participate in a clinical trail if they heard a physician and saw the video versus a 4.1 percentage point increase among those who only heard the physician talk about clinical trials.  In the clinical trials test among cancer patients, more than 50 percent of the patients seeing the video said that is helped them in deciding to participate in a clinical trial.  Eighty (80) percent of cancer physicians seeing the cultural competence video indicated that it contained information helpful to very helpful to their practice.


Some cultural orientations can be inhibitors to the patient-physician encounter, and they can be reduced with this approach.



      Contact Information

      Dr. Wornie Reed, Director

      Mr. Shelton Norwood, Administrative Assistant

      564 McBryde Hall (0494)
      Virginia Tech
      225 Stanger Street
      Blacksburg, VA 24061

      P: (540) 231-6107