Lesson 1: Africa in Context


We begin this course with an overview of Africa itself. Africa has a very rich history in the dimensions of environment, human, social, cultural, developmental, and global. Here you will have a broad introduction to these fascinating and significant topics. This unit then provides the foundation for looking at the physical environment of Africa with human impacts and interactions.

Learning Objectives

By the end of Lesson 1, successful students should be able to...

  • Address their own preconceptions of Africa
  • Gain a basic understanding of the physical and human geography of Africa and how these interact including:
    • The scope and features of the Sahara desert
    • The economic nature of Africa and it’s relationship to the global economy
    • The effect that HIV and AIDS have had on Africa
    • The linguistic diversity of Africa
    • The historical and socioculture features of Africa
  • Describe why Africa could be considered “A Land of Contrasts”

Reading Assignment

  • Read the information provided in the pages of this lesson, including the readings and Web sites linked to these pages.


The following items are due by the end of this lesson (see the Calendar in ANGEL for specific due date and the assignment description). Detailed information about these assignments and submission directions are included in this lesson.

  • Assignment: Crossing the Sahara
  • Discussion Forum Posting: Early Development of Global Population
  • Assignment: Africa's Languages and Environments


If you have any questions now or at any point during this week, please feel free to post them to the Lesson 1 Discussion Forum. (That discussion forum can be accessed at any time by clicking on the Communicate tab in ANGEL, and then looking in the Discussion Forum section for the appropriate lesson.)