Princeton Finally Becomes the Last of the Ivy Leagues to Offer an African American Studies Program

Princeton_University_AlexanderIt’s hard to imagine that for decades, one of the nation’s wealthiest and more prominent universities didn’t offer an African American studies program, but it’s true.

Starting in the fall, Princeton students will finally have the option to major in African American studies.

The University’s Board of Trustees approved the new undergraduate program at the beginning of June and granted the Center for African American Studies department status.

Of course, it also begs questions about why it took so long for the major to be implemented in the first place. Either way, university officials are excited to move forward. Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber released a public statement about the changes and praised the trustees for the decision.

“Princeton’s outstanding faculty members in African American studies address cultural, social and political issues of urgent importance to our students, our nation and the world,” Eisgruber said. “By approving the establishment of a new Department of African American Studies, the trustees and the faculty of the University have provided Princeton’s students with new opportunities for learning, and they have deepened our commitment to support scholarship of the highest quality in this vibrant field.”

The school has had a Center for African American Studies since 2006 and a variety of different courses related to African American studies were provided as well, but an actual undergraduate program for such studies was never available at Princeton until now.

Eddie Glaude Jr. the chair of African American studies and William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American studies, will chair the new department. Glaude noted that the new program not only marks the beginning of a new academic course but it also serves as a milestone for the university.

“The vibrant field of African American studies is now an integral part of Princeton University,” he said in a statement from the university. “And I believe the scholars who are currently here, and the community we are building, will have long-lasting effects on this institution. It is an exciting time to be at Princeton and a glorious moment in the history of this great university.”

The undergraduate program will allow students to concentrate in three different areas—African American Culture and Life, Global Race and Ethnicity and Race and Public Policy.

The new program makes Princeton the last of the Ivy League schools to offer an African American studies major. One can only hope that it will help open the doors for more Black students to attend the elite institution; but based on the past history of the other Ivies that offer the same program, the lack of diversity on Princeton’s campus will likely be unchanged by the new program.

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