Stanford Moves Closer To Formally Creating A Black Studies Department

Stanford University has moved one step closer toward making their African and African-American Studies program into a formal department. Last Thursday, Stanford University's Framework Task Force formally recommended that Provost Persis Drell and School of Humanities & Sciences Dean Debra Satz departmentalize the program.

“In responding to this national moment and reckoning in this area of racial justice and racial inequality, I think it is new for Stanford to step into a leadership role like this,” professor Claude Steele said.

“I appreciate that. I think that is stepping up to a challenge that is very significant in higher education. It’s a big deal.”

Stanford's African and African-American Studies program has a long history at the institution. Established in 1969, it was the first ethnic studies program established at a private institution in the United States. After 51 years, students began pushing for the school to departmentalize the program in the midst of a growing Black Lives Matter Movement. Garnering nearly 6,000 signatures, the movement to departmentalize the program is as strong as ever, but the AAAS subcommittee sees it as “an exciting first step.” Moving forward, faculty members will have a year to put forth a formal proposal for the provost. Members of the Stanford community are also interested in creating a research center.

“We have over 100 faculty from the medical school to the education school who are leaders in this area,” Steele added.

“The idea is to create an entity that would make the whole greater than the sum of the parts and create a community of researchers who would focus on some of the major issues around racial justice and racial inequality.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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