About the Center
The Center for African American Studies (CAAS) 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 vision 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.
Launched in the fall of 2006, the Center for African American Studies expands upon the initiatives begun by the Program in African American Studies at Princeton University. Since its founding in 1969, the program has offered an interdisciplinary certificate that allows students to draw on the insights and techniques of various disciplines in an effort to understand the experiences, history and culture of African-descended people. The center builds upon that earlier vision and extends its reach broadly across the campus and throughout the curriculum.
Understanding that African American studies is interdisciplinary and multifaceted, and that questions and concerns about race are at the center of a liberal arts education, the center offers a variety of courses, lectures and research opportunities to more fully enrich the intellectual lives of students, faculty and members of the larger community. The center also offers doctoral students from across the University opportunities to work with faculty in African American studies.
For further reading about the history of African American studies at Princeton, see "The Center for African American Studies in Stanhope Hall" (PDF) by William K. Selden and Neil L. Rudenstine.
Building on a strong core of faculty with a history of distinguished contributions to African American studies, Princeton University has established a new center to serve as a model for teaching and research on race in America.
President Shirley M. Tilghman launched the Center for African American Studies in a statement on Sept. 18, 2006, announcing that historic Stanhope Hall on the University's front campus is being renovated to serve as its home.
Princeton will enhance its curriculum -- particularly at the undergraduate level -- double the size of the faculty in African American studies, and seek funds to endow the new center with the resources necessary to ensure its success, Tilghman said. The expansion is based on recommendations from an Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on the Future of African American studies at Princeton, which was convened last fall to consider how the University could enhance the excellence of the program and establish it as a national leader in its field.
"Of all the challenges that confront America, none is more profound than the struggle to achieve racial equality and understand the impact of race on the life and institutions of the United States," Tilghman said.
"As a University dedicated to 'the nation's service and the service of all nations,' Princeton must be in a position to contribute to this quest through research that yields valuable insights into the nature of racial identity and social justice, and through education that trains new generations of leaders to solve problems that have persisted too long, both in this country and abroad," she said.
By establishing a center and expanded curriculum for African American studies, Princeton will be able to diffuse the study of race issues throughout its liberal arts education in a manner unique to the field.
Read the full news article about the center's establishment.