African Studies Program seeking curators, classrooms to participate in Discovery Box service

Outreach and community education are a major component of our work here at the African Studies Program. The African Studies Outreach Program reached over 9,000 citizens throughout the state with its programming last academic year, and we hope to reach even more this year. 

Items from the “Things Fall Apart” box.

A major part of this process will be the curation and distribution of thematic Discovery Boxes as free lending resources for educators both within and outside of the state of Wisconsin. We recently launched a subscription service for these boxes, working closely with three different schools to reach more than 100 students.

Discovery Boxes are small (15”L x 12”W x 10”H) boxes containing items that bring an international story to life for K-12 students; they include objects related to particular activities, topics, or cultural contexts for hands-on exploration in the classroom. Discovery boxes are mailed to K-12 teachers free of charge and are flexible enough to be useful to teachers of all grade levels and a wide range of subject areas.

Thus far, the African Studies Program has developed six Africa-focused boxes — the “Things Fall Apart,” African Fashion, and Swahili boxes and three country boxes, namely, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Uganda. We have also been working in partnership with other area studies centers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to create Discovery Boxes for other parts of the world, including Indonesia, Singapore, and Ecuador. Each box features a wide range of items and useful short descriptions for use by teachers. 

If you are interested in curating your own Discovery Box, please contact Lauren Parnell Marino ( with a brief description of a proposed theme and a list of potential items you might include in a box. We are always looking for new, interesting material to provide for our educators!