Princeton University announced this week the creation of a Center for African American Studies — a plan that includes doubling the number of faculty in its African American studies program, enhancing the undergraduate curriculum and seeking funds to endow the new center.
“Of all the challenges that confront America, none is more profound than the struggle to achieve racial equality and understand the impact of race on the life and institutions of the United States,” says university president Shirley M. Tilghman.
Dr. K. Anthony Appiah, who chaired the president’s advisory committee, says the center will give African American studies a greater ability to reach students and faculty in numerous disciplines.
“I believe that if the center functions the way it should, it could have a big impact, not just on graduate and undergraduate education here, but also the shape of the field,” says Appiah, the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy.
The center will have the potential for 11 to 22 faculty working to support more course offerings and, eventually, an opportunity for students to major in African American studies.
“We’re building on Princeton’s strengths of a core faculty that recognizes that you can’t do jazz studies now without taking on board the work of African-American cultural studies, and you can’t study politics or public policy, or even bioethics, without work that has been done in the areas of race,” Appiah says. “We believe that it’s important for this field to be very much a presence in the life of most undergraduates.”
Dr. Eddie Glaude, a member of the advisory committee and an associate professor of religion, says the field of Black studies is thriving, although it is finding it difficult to survive in other institutions around the country.
“This is a moment of profound transition,” says Glaude. “As many Black studies programs and departments around the country struggle to attract funding from their respective institutions, we are expanding our program to ensure the presence of African American studies in the education of Princeton students.”
In other news, Princeton officials also announced plans to join Harvard University in ending the early admissions process.
“We agree that early admission ‘advantages the advantaged,’” Tilghman says, echoing comments from Harvard officials, who said last week that the process was unfair to minorities and low-income students.
Other Ivy League schools, including Yale University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dartmouth College and the University of Pennsylvania, among others, have so far indicated they would likely keep their current systems at least for now.
— By Diverse staff and wire reports
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