Duke University Elevates Black Studies to Departmental Status

The Duke University board of trustees gave final approval granting departmental status to the university’s African and African-American Studies Program. In many ways the program had already operated as a department with 15 core faculty members. It already granted bachelor’s degrees in African-American studies. About 33 students at Duke are majoring in black studies this year.

Sarah Deutsch, dean of social sciences at Duke, said the upgrade was made because it “became clear that in circles outside of Duke the label ‘program’ carried connotations of impermanence. The shift to ‘department’ better represents Duke’s commitment to the enterprise.”

The new department also was encouraged to develop a Ph.D. program in black studies.