CSUN’s Department of Africana Studies: New Name and New Identity

Africana Studies faculty and students

Professor Johnie Scott (left), chair of the newly renamed Department of Africana Studies and other faculty, present awards to outstanding students during an end of the year event. Photo provided by the Department of Africana Studies.

PrintStarting this fall, California State University, Northridge’s Department of Pan African Studies officially will be renamed the Department of Africana Studies.

The 45-year-old department, one of the oldest state-supported black studies departments in the nation, will take on the new name to bring consistency with the name of the department and the degree earned and provide the department an opportunity to “rebrand” itself.

“Students historically have always wanted their degrees to match the name of the department,” said Johnie Scott, chair of the department. “This moves us into the next century.”

CSUN joins a trend among black studies departments within the CSU and at other universities in changing their names to Africana studies. Officials with those departments say the name change brings more consistency to the discipline.

“It’s reflective of the disciplines trend,” said Charles E. Jones, former president of National Council for Black Studies and professor of Africana studies at the University of Cincinnati. “It better captures the state of the contemporary field.”

Students can earn a bachelor’s degree in Africana studies at CSUN. Scott said the name change will be reflected on degrees earned for the 2014-15 academic year. The Africana studies (AFRS) major is a multidisciplinary academic major (45 units) designed for students who wish to gain an understanding of the history, psychology, sociology, literature, culture and education of African-Americans and other Africans in the diaspora and the continent. The three specific options within the major enable students to concentrate their efforts on certain aspects: African and African-American Social Sciences; African and African-American Humanities and Cultural Studies; and African-American Urban Education. Students can also declare a minor in Africana studies.

The department also has launched a new website

that includes links to current and past events; clubs and organizations that support the department’s mission; and graduate programs where students can earn a master’s degree or doctorate in a related discipline.

“We envision our new branding campaign as an opportunity to promote our revised curriculum, to have more timely communications with prospective and current students, faculty, alumni, supporters and the campus community,” said Theresa White, a professor in the Department of Africana Studies and the website creative designer. “We’re also endeavoring to crystalize the importance and significance of pursuing an Africana studies major or minor.”