Since 2002, the African and Black Diaspora Studies program at DePaul has aimed to provide students with an interdisciplinary course of study of Africa and the Black world. After 16 years administering a rigorous and socially conscious inquiry into the histories, cultures and people of Africa and the Black diaspora, in spring 2018 the university elevated the program to a department.
"This is a historic accomplishment not only for all those involved in our program, but also for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and DePaul overall," says Amor Kohli, chair of the Department of African and Black Diaspora Studies. "We believe it is crucial that students of all backgrounds understand the contributions of Black people to worldwide histories and cultures; earning a department status further solidifies the importance of our work."
Typically, university programs are a collection of courses that lead to a specific degree, whereas departments are recognized as groups of faculty organized into a unit for management and course planning. Though now officially a department at DePaul, African and Black Diaspora Studies will remain interdisciplinary, utilizing resources from across the university.
"With this important decision, LAS continues to cultivate an impressive constellation of multidisciplinary departments that effectively respond to the needs of our current and future students," says Guillermo Vásquez de Velasco, dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
Faculty and students in African and Black Diaspora Studies cross-collaborate with other majors, minors and programs across the humanities and social sciences, with an emphasis on literary, cultural and media studies; the intersections of race, gender and sexuality; and historical inquiry.
Graduates of African and Black Diaspora Studies have gone on to pursue employment and graduate work in a variety of areas including media and cultural analysis, international relations, social work, higher education administration, law and social justice.
"We are thrilled to have become a department," Kohli says. "We look forward to continuing to develop intersectional curricula, collaborating with programs across campus and providing the university community with the opportunity to study these critical topics."