New department of Africana Studies established

Author: Office of Internal Communications

The University of Notre Dame has established a new Department of Africana Studies, effective July 1.The new department will replace the existing African and African-American Studies Program (AFAM) and will enhance the Universitys efforts to promote diversity and multiculturalism.

Housed in the humanities division of theCollegeofArtsand Letters, the Department of Africana Studies will offer an interdisciplinary curriculum in which undergraduates study the African-American experience; the histories, literatures, political systems, arts, economies and religions of the African continent; and the African diaspora – the global dispersion of people of African descent.

“The Catholic Church is growing faster in Africa than in any other part of the world, and a department dedicated specifically to the interdisciplinary study ofAfricaand the African diaspora is at the heart of the Universitys Catholic mission,” said Mark W. Roche, I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of Arts and Letters.“The research, teaching and service initiatives of the new department will build upon Notre Dame’s deep and longstanding ties to countries such asGhana,Kenya,TanzaniaandUganda.”

Richard B. Pierce, the Carl E. Koch Jr. Assistant Professor of History, has been appointed chair of the Africana studies department. Pierce specializes in African-American, urban and civil rights history, and examines social and political protest in urban environments.

A member of the Notre Dame faculty since 1996, Pierce previously served asassociate director of the former AFAM program and is a fellow in the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

He will hold a joint appointment in the Department of Africana Studies and the Department of History.Faculty members affiliated with the former AFAM program will continue teaching in the new department, and a search for additional faculty will continue.