This academic unit has grown from a program to a Center, to a department. Today the department holds many of the most prolific and notable African American Studies scholars in the world.
The Department of African American Studies at Princeton University provides an exciting and innovative model for teaching and research about African-descended people, with a central focus on their experiences in the United States. We embody this mission in a curriculum that reflects the complex interplay between the political, economic, and cultural forces that shape our understanding of the historic achievements and struggles of African-descended people in this country and around the world.
The History of AAS at Princeton University
In our department at Princeton, we believe African American Studies plays a significant role in producing cosmopolitan people who are capable of not only encountering difference but thinking about the difference in very sophisticated ways.
African American Studies at Princeton was founded in 1969 in response to widespread student demands that African American intellectual traditions be represented at the University. At its inception, the teaching staff of seven was comprised, with one exception, of visiting lecturers and non-tenure-track faculty members representing the following fields: African American Studies, English, History, Politics, and Psychology.
Princeton decided in 2006 to commit itself to the idea of African American Studies. The Center for African American Studies was established. Professor Valerie Smith served as the first director. Professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr. was appointed Chair in 2009.
In July of 2015, the University’s Board of Trustees voted to grant African American Studies academic department status, and approve a concentration in African American Studies.
Today, the faculty members of the Department, whether solely or jointly appointed, are established leaders or rising stars in their respective fields: African American Studies, Art and Archaeology, Comparative Literature, English, History, Psychology, Religion, and Sociology.