Black Studies

What is a Black Studies Major?
The Department of Black Studies came about as a result of the students’ need for a more relevant curriculum, one dealing with the African Diaspora, and for more meaningful opportunities for faculty, staff and students. The department caters to its undergraduate majors as well as the larger academic community by serving more than 4,000 students per year fulfilling general education requirements.

Black Studies is a distinctly innovative discipline that focuses on people of African descent whether they live in Africa, in the Caribbean, or in North or South America. Along with similar departments in the University of California and in other universities, it consists of intellectual and cross-cultural enterprises, incorporating historical reconstructions and formulating hitherto unexplored and unexamined methodological, theoretical, and analytical forms in the social sciences. Interdisciplinary in nature, it includes professors trained in comparative literature, film studies, ethnomusicology, gender studies, history, linguistics, political science, and other traditional disciplines. Besides exploring new areas of contact between these disciplines, it prepares students for life in an increasingly multi-ethnic and global society, for graduate study, and for professional careers in community service, education, government, law and private industry.

The Department of Black Studies seeks to increase the general awareness and understanding of the Black experience through an examination of its historical and contemporary manifestations in various societies. The department brings together scholars who are concerned with Black America, the African Diaspora, and Africa. It utilizes a cross-cultural approach, incorporating the active participation of faculty, students, and the wide community. The faculty of Professors and lecturers ground their students in history, literature, cinema, religion, the arts, and the social sciences, with particular concentrations in the achievement of moral ideals such as democracy and equality, cultural theory, and the social, aesthetic, and political ideas emerging from historical and contemporary societies.

Among the affiliated faculty are members of Art Studio, English, Political Science, and Sociology Departments and the Women's Studies Program. The department's resources and partnerships include the Center for Black Studies, the Ethnic Studies Library, the Multicultural Center, and various student groups.


Major, General, and Career Information

From What Can I Do With This Major:
General Information
  • Africana Studies (Black Studies) provides an interdisciplinary background that helps students develop analytical, critical thinking, and writing skills while gaining knowledge about the lives and conditions of people from African descent in Africa, the United States, Latin America, and other communities. This understanding of multiculturalism is valued by employers in industries such as education, government, and business.
  • Consider obtaining a double major or minor in another area to demonstrate specialized interests and increase your job prospects.
  • Some students may choose to study Africana Studies because they enjoy the subject but wish to pursue careers requiring “any major.” In this scenario, it is critical to develop skills relevant to targeted field through internships, part-time or summer jobs, or volunteer experiences.
  • Africana Studies majors are excellent candidates for a number of graduate school options because of their broad liberal arts background as well as specific interests that may set them apart from other students. For those wishing to pursue graduate education, maintain a high GPA, establish relationships with faculty to secure strong recommendations, and gain experience through volunteer, work, or research opportunities. Research areas of interest for specific program requirements.
  • Find opportunities to get involved in campus organizations and activities related to multiculturalism and diversity.  Seek leadership roles on programming boards or join minority mentoring programs.

UCSB Program Learning Outcomes for Black Studies

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Resources and Professional Associations

UCSB Black Studies Homepage

African Studies Association
Its mission is to bring together people with a scholarly and professional interest in Africa.

National Association for Ethnic Studies
Its basic purpose is the promotion of activities and scholarship in the field of ethnic studies.

Los Angeles Chapter of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
The branch continues to support the programs and policies of the NAACP with aggressive action at the local level resolving around issues concerning education.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
The real story of the nation's most significant civil rights organization lies in the hearts and minds of the people who would not stand still while the rights of some of America's darker citizens were denied.

National Urban League
The mission of the Urban League movement is to enable African Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights.

Association of African American Sales Professionals
Serves to meet the needs of professional and developmental needs of African-American sales and sales management professionals.

Blacks in Government (BIG)
Enable all present and future Black employees in Local, State, and Federal governments to have the ability to maximize their career opportunities and provide a mechanism for inclusion, growth and advocacy.