Stanford University Approves Department Of African and African-American Studies
Stanford University, through its Board of Trustees, has officially approved the creation of a department of African and African American Studies. The department will open in January.
The department will take over the program already in place for the subjects within its School of Humanities and Sciences, according to Stanford Report.
The latest effort to transform the AAAS program into a department was sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement and murder of George Floyd in 2020. While the AAAS program has been a part of Stanford’s curriculum options for over half a century, its departmentalization was at a standstill before the outcry of social justice nationwide.
“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 at Stanford.
A task force initiated by the university in 2021 also recommended the departmentalization of the program. Ato Quayson, a professor of English and interdisciplinary studies at the school, will be the department’s inaugural chair.
The university will allow tracks of African, African American, and Global Black Diaspora Studies to be available for interested students. The inclusion of courses associated with Black studies will also be provided, alongside a collaboration with the Institute for Diversity of the Arts, as students within the department will have the opportunity to connect their learning through creative means.
Quayson commenced the vote for the AAAS department with a reading from Toni Morrison’s classic novel, Beloved, which was met with much applause.
The news comes as Stanford has made additional changes to better the experiences of its student body, including an advancement to better accommodate disabled students’ needs and expansion within the arts.