Penn Creates Africana Studies Department

The University of Pennsylvania has announced the establishment of the Department of Africana Studies in the School of Arts and Sciences. The new department will focus on the study of the historical and contemporary experiences of Africans and people of the African diaspora.

The department will have 11 standing faculty members. In the past, Black studies faculty were members of other academic departments. Now they will hold joint appointments.

The Africana studies department will be chaired by Camille Z. Charles, the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor in the Social Sciences. Professor Charles is a graduate of California State University-Sacramento. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Los Angeles. She is the author of Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Race, Class and Residence in Los Angeles (Russell Sage Foundation 2006).

The Africana studies department will administer the bachelor’s degree program and minor as well as the Ph.D. program that were previously offered through the Center for Africana studies. The center has its roots in the Afro-American Studies Program, established in 1972 at Penn.

Rebecca W. Bushnell, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, stated, “Penn has a deep and eminent tradition of research and teaching excellence in Africana Studies. This new department will allow us to showcase and build on that great work. The faculty’s global, cross-regional approach to Africana Studies, one that draws on disciplines across Penn, will make the department distinctive in this important field.”

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  1. This is great news (for me). The closest Ivy League university that offers an Africana Studies PhD was Princeton. And frankly, it’s about time they expanded that sorry excuse for an African Studies non-department.

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