Portland-State-University 2017-2018 Bulletin

Black Studies

150 Parkmill (PKM)



  • B.A., B.S. in Black Studies
  • Minor in Black Studies
  • Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Black Studies

The Department of Black Studies is an academic interdisciplinary unit within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It is one of four units in the School of Gender, Race, and Nations. The Department of Black Studies is devoted to the exploration and analysis of the history, politics, economics, literature, community, and culture of African people in the United States, the Caribbean/Latin America, and Africa. It seeks to research and teach about the black experience through the interdisciplinary contributions of its faculty by providing comprehensive learning programs aimed at greater understanding of by the historical and contemporary experiences of all African people in the U.S., Caribbean/Latin America, and Africa. 

The Department of Black Studies provides students who opt for the Black Studies major, minor, certificate, or as an addition to majors such as anthropology, English, sociology, community studies, history, etc., a variety of course offerings. These courses serve to expand students’ breadth of knowledge in related courses offered by the department or as a complement to those in other departments. Students gain an understanding of the complex relationship of race, gender, class, economics, and politics. The Department of Black Studies is inclusive in its attempt to incorporate varied cultural themes such as music, literature, and film and social institutions like the family, religion, economics, and politics into its curriculum into its courses.

The program provides students with a general historical background of the black experience in Africa and the Western hemisphere, as well as locally. Students also examine contemporary cross-cultural and multi-ethnic dynamics and are encouraged to engage in study and/or civic engagement courses to support their interests in global and community studies. The Department of Black Studies prepares students to work with diverse communities and to apply for graduate studies in a variety of disciplinary and professional programs. It will also give students a crucial competitive advantage in obtaining careers in those areas and within communities that interact with African, African American, and Caribbean/Latin American cultures.

Students interested in any of the degree programs offered in the Department of Black Studies are strongly encouraged to enroll in BST 202: Introduction to Black Studies or any other 200-level course. Students should meet with the undergraduate advisor for assistance with course selection based on their interests. For students who plan to apply to graduate school, it is important that they meet with one of their professors, the undergraduate advisor, or the department chair during their junior year, in order to discuss options for courses to enhance their research skills, such as the practicum, reading and conference, or other experiential learning courses.