Brandeis grows 21st-century scholarship with African diaspora studies

Brandeis University has launched a bold hiring initiative that reaffirms its historic commitment to social justice while expanding its reach as a global institution. This year Brandeis will seek to hire two faculty members as the first phase of a multi-year cluster hire initiative in African diaspora studies.  

“The field of African diaspora studies has allowed scholars to understand the connections as well as differences between dispersed peoples of African descent in exciting new ways — by grappling with issues related to race, ethnicity, culture, gender, language and religion in an interdisciplinary manner,” said Chad Williams, associate professor and chair of the department of African and Afro-American studies.    

This initiative puts Brandeis in the vanguard of universities broadening their faculty and curriculum to reflect growing interest among professors and students in a deeply interdisciplinary and global approach to scholarship. In addition to hiring new faculty, the initiative will also develop collaborative programming centered around the study of the African diaspora and other historically significant diasporas, such as the Jewish diaspora.  

“We envision this effort, building on our existing expertise and combined with the intellectual energy of new faculty hires, establishing Brandeis as a premier institution for the study of how diasporas have and continue to shape our everyday lives,” Williams added.   

Two searches are underway: a joint appointment position in African and Afro-American studies and women’s and gender studies, and a historian of Latin America in the history department. The focus of future searches remains open and will be determined by the priorities of specific departments and programs.  

In using African diaspora studies as the organizing framework of this initiative, Brandeis seeks to strengthen natural connections between various departments, as well as address key university priorities.  

Susan Birren, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, noted that the broad scope of these searches reflects a commitment to inter- and cross-disciplinary teaching, learning and scholarship. “This is exactly the kind of initiative identified by our faculty in our university-wide strategic planning process as an opportunity to build on areas of excellence through selective use of cluster hires in key disciplines,” she noted.

The timing of the initiative comes as Brandeis begins the implementation phase of the new Strategic Plan, approved in May by the Board of Trustees.  

“Our faculty has conceived and shaped this cluster-hire initiative, which is an important step in achieving several of Brandeis University’s current strategic goals, including deepening our campus commitment to social justice, broadening our diversity of people and ideas, and fostering our international engagement,” said Provost Steven A.N. Goldstein ’78, MA’78.

Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences, International Affairs

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