University of Texas Upgrades Black Studies to Departmental Status

The University of Texas at Austin has established the department of African and African diaspora studies. The new entity is the only black studies program in the state of Texas to obtain departmental status. The new department will begin offering a bachelor’s degree program this coming fall. There are plans for offering master’s and Ph.D. degrees and to hire 10 full-time faculty members in the near future.

The department will be chaired by Edmund T. Gordon, who currently is a professor of anthropology at the university. Professor Gordon holds a master’s degree from the University of Miami and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Stanford University. He is the author of the 1998 book, Disparate Diasporas: Identity and Politics in an African-Nicaraguan Community.

At the present time there are about 30 students who are majoring in black studies at the University of Texas through an interdisciplinary program at the John L. Warfield Center for African and African-American Studies. Professor Gordon hopes to double the number of black studies majors in the next several years. The Warfield Center will surrender teaching responsibilities to the new department but will continue to oversee student and faculty research, lectures, culture programs, and collaborations with the Austin community. Also affiliated with the new black studies department will be the recently established Institute for Critical Urban Policy.