Portland-State-University 2021-2022 Bulletin

Black Studies

150 Parkmill (PKM)



  • B.A., B.S. in Black Studies
  • Minor in Black Studies
  • Post Baccalaureate 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 all aspects of African people and people of African descent in the United States, the Caribbean/Latin America, and Europe. 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 the historical and contemporary experiences of people in Africa and African descended people across the Americas, the Caribbean and Europe. 

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 relationships across and between race/racism, gender/sexism, sexuality/homophobia, class differences and inequalities. The Department of Black Studies attempts to incorporate in its understandings and analysis of Black Life cultural themes such as music, literature, and film; institutions like the family, religion, housing, employment, criminal injustice system and health care; and the more general realms of culture and political economy into its curriculum and 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 inter- and intra-racial/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 African, Black or African American 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.