Standford University is going to have a Department of African and African American Studies!
The Stanford Board of Trustees recently approved the creation of the Department of African and African American Studies in the School of Humanities and Sciences (H&S). The department, which is years in the making, officially opens in January 2024.
According to Stanford’s website, African & African American Studies promotes an understanding of how history informs the present and inspires an engagement with the past in order to collectively dream a more just and equitable future. Their faculty, staff, and students value the interrelated nature of the personal and the political and aim to create a community that allows for intellectual and personal flourishing. The university has had a program in African and African American Studies (AAAS) for more than 50 years. But efforts to support AAAS departmentalization were galvanized after the murder of George Floyd in 2020.
“Events since 2020 have made it increasingly apparent that the time has come for Stanford to put our work in AAAS on a permanent footing …” said R. Lanier Anderson, the J.E. Wallace Sterling Professor of the Humanities and professor of philosophy. A task force was started by former Provost Persis Drell, and H&S Dean Debra Satz recommended the creation of a department in 2021.
Ato Quayson, the Jean G. and Morris M. Doyle Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies and professor of English, will serve as the AAAS department’s inaugural chair. The department plans to have tracks in African Studies, African American Studies, and Global Black Diaspora Studies. It will also provide opportunities for community-engaged learning, for students to study a language pertinent to Black Studies, and for creative expression in collaboration with the Institute for Diversity in the Arts, Quayson said in a presentation to the Committee of Student, Alumni, and External Affairs.
Before the vote approving departmentalization, Quayson pulled out his original copy of Toni Morrison’s Beloved and read, “You got to love it. This is flesh I’m talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms, I’m telling you.”
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