Published February 2, 2021
Building on a 50-year tradition in African, African American and American studies, the College of Arts and Sciences has officially renamed the Department of Transnational Studies to the Department of Africana and American Studies.
The new name follows more than a year of discussions, meetings and town halls with students and student groups, as well as a deliberative faculty process. The renaming responds not only to the current needs of students and faculty, but also of the community and society at large, as the ongoing national struggles against racism make tragically clear, CAS administrators say.
“The renaming of the department brings the history of one of the first departments in this field to the forefront with a renewed focus on the research and scholarship that addresses the needs of our students,” says CAS Dean Robin Schulze.
While the name change serves to increase the visibility and community awareness of Africana and American studies on campus, it is part of a robust series of steps to renew the department.
“The department celebrated the 50th anniversary of African American studies at UB in 2019, so this struck us as an auspicious occasion to rename the department and reclaim that rich legacy,” notes department Chair Shaun Irlam.
“The term ‘Africana’ profiles its transnational focus on all expressions of Black culture and history, globally, while ‘American studies’ also retains the legacy of its decade-long association with the former American Studies department,” Irlam says, explaining the meaning behind the new name.
As part of the investment, the college has committed funding to hire faculty in Africana and American studies. Additionally, the plan involves reclaiming the physical space in Clemens Hall that housed the earlier iteration of the Department of African and African American Studies. The creation of a prominent home hub for students to spend time learning, connecting and honoring Black cultures, histories and peoples is an important component to the mission of the department. CAS administrators say.