The faculty voted in mid-May to create a major in African American studies and to grant academic departmental status to the Center for African American Studies (CAAS), which has existed only as a certificate program since its creation in 2006.
Faculty members said that African American studies is a well-established scholarly field, that every other Ivy school and most of Princeton’s peers offer a concentration in the field, and that student interest has been increasing.
The curriculum of the new major, according to the proposal approved by the faculty, will reflect “the complex interplay between political, economic, and cultural forces shaping our understanding of the historic achievements and struggles of African-descended people in the United States and their relation to others around the world.” A certificate program will continue to be offered.
CAAS has 14 faculty members and expects two new joint appointments in the coming academic year. The center has averaged more than 30 certificate students per year.
The University’s trustees were expected to approve the major and departmental status at the end of May. Departmental status will help in the recruiting of scholars and lay the groundwork for a graduate-degree program, faculty proponents said.
The faculty also voted to create undergraduate certificate programs in ethnographic studies, cognitive sciences, and the history and practice of diplomacy.