Oct. 20, 2005 • Volume 14 Number 4

Black Studies: What's Ahead

Q&A with Cynthia Young

This month, University of Southern California English professor Cynthia Young joined the faculty of Boston College as director of the University's Black Studies Program. In a recent interview, Young shared her vision for Black Studies at Boston College.

What attracts you to Boston College?

First, I was intrigued by the idea of helping to build a thriving Black Studies program in a city as culturally rich and ethnically diverse as Boston. Secondly, Boston College seems to be at a place in its history that is unique. There's lots of energy and excitement around building academic programs, hiring new faculty, attracting an increasingly strong student body. I wanted to be a part of that.

What are your goals for the Black Studies Program?

For one, the program should be focused on the African Diaspora, meaning it should be focused on how the slave trade, the Middle Passage, patterns of labor, immigration and migration have shaped the experiences of African-descended peoples in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and the US. The program should continue to be interdisciplinary and provide students with opportunities to take courses that will enrich their overall educational experience and provide more specialized knowledge for those who minor in it.

I'd like to see the program create a more cohesive curriculum taught by a large cohort of faculty from a range of different departments and programs. Courses might even be team-taught by faculty from the social sciences, humanities and the sciences. Also, the program should continue to forge links with the larger Boston community. That goal can be accomplished by integrating an internship program into the minor, by hosting lectures that are held off campus, by working on jointly developed intellectual and political projects, essentially by forging networks between faculty, students and community members that sustain and enrich both Boston College and the greater Boston community.

How will you measure the department's success?

Each year I'd like to see progress made in each of these areas. Each year I'd like to see the Black Studies Program add more courses, involve more faculty and develop new programs. If at the end of each year, there is added strength and development in each area then I'll be happy. The most important measure will be a stronger minor with larger student participation, in short a greater sense of intellectual excitement and energy.

-Stephen Gawlik

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