First, I would like to thank you for agreeing to make this contribution to this special edition. As one of the most recent scholars to investigate the state of graduate studies, and specifically the state of the Ph.D. in Black Studies, your contribution is extremely important. What is your perception of graduate studies within Black Studies today?
Graduate training in Black Studies is definitely growing. Between 2005 and 2009, there was a noted increase in program graduations, enrollment, and doctoral programs. In these years, at least 23 Black Studies doctoral degrees were earned and at least 34 more graduate students are enrolled than in 2005. Most importantly, in addition to the seven existing programs (Temple, Massachusetts-Amherst, Berkeley, Yale, Harvard, Michigan State, Northwestern), there were three new doctoral programs developed since 2005 (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Indiana). We are indeed at a crucial moment. Though at the time of my 2009 survey, no doctoral programs existed in the South, there are still marked developments that show now more than ever graduate program chairs, faculty, and students must operate within a knowledgeable context of this growth.
In 2007, I visited Temple University as the keynote speaker for the 19th Annual African American Graduate Student AYA Spring Conference. I spoke about my experience connecting Africana Studies to community engagement, particularly through the practice of community service-learning. After my talk, Dr. Nathaniel Norment, who I had met at the previous year's ASALH conference, firmly but affectionately reminded me that though "community service" was essential to linking universities to local interests, Africana Studies was more about community building. In addition to community building between academic and local community agencies through service-learning, community-based research, and internships, Africana Studies scholars must actively begin to community build at a national level between doctoral-granting departments.
Without everyone participating in this conversation, we will continue to be defined from the outside. The recent work by Fabio Rojas (2007) provides an excellent example. In From Black Power to Black Studies: How a Radical Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline, Rojas has produced a work for which all Africana Studies scholars should be grateful--especially because it demonstrates the chasm in philosophical framework, theoretical grounding, and methodological approaches separating traditional disciplines from the academic approach of Africana Studies. Rojas provides a useful description of Black Studies as an "inter-discipline" (Rojas 2007, pp. 21, 167-69), and he simultaneously demonstrates why a singular disciplinary approach fails to adequately capture Africana Studies endeavors. I reviewed the book in Higher Education Review and noted its invaluable contribution despite the inherent limitation of disciplinary analysis. (1)
With the budget shifts, there will certainly be shrinking campus resources, so now is a time when departments must think strategically about maximizing resources. Tapping into the network of graduate programs is a way to create space for growth even in the midst of an economic downturn. More than a material imperative, graduate chairs, faculty, and students must continue to consider points of divergence and points of intersection regarding curriculum (content) and graduation...
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