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Lesley Offers New Minor in Africana Studies

Are you looking for a new minor and don’t know what to choose? Do you wish Lesley had a program that focused on the experiences of people of color?  Lucky for you, Lesley University has added Africana Studies as a new minor!  The idea for this minor came from student-initiated discussions about the need for more representations of people of color in the curriculum.  Two faculty members– Dr. Tatiana Cruz and Dr. Mary Dockray-Miller– decided to work on this new minor, in order to address that need. They believed that Lesley was far behind in adding more diverse curriculum and courses, and since students had been calling for the university to take that action, the timing for adding the new minor seemed perfect.

Africana Studies is a minor that offers classes that will be of interest to students who want to study more about race and ethnicity outside of the typically Eurocentric curriculum. But what exactly is Africana Studies? Dr. Cruz explains, “Africana Studies, often called Black Studies or African American Studies… is an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach to studying and understanding the experiences of African people and African-descended people across the Diaspora.”  The Africana Studies field was formed in the late 1960s out of the demands of black students to have more relevant and diverse courses in higher education.

Now that this minor is being offered at Lesley, there are over a dozen courses students can take that relate to Africana Studies. An Africana Studies minor would complement so many majors, like History, Political Science, and Education; and any students that are interested should definitely consider how much this minor would broaden their understandings of history and culture.

The Africana Studies minor requires 5 courses (15 credits) with the two required classes being “African American History” and “Race, Class, and Gender.” Electives for Africana Studies are offered in both CLAS and LA+D and range all the way from “Anthropology in the Caribbean” to “History of Jazz” and “Africa in Film.” Different classes are offered each semester so keep your eyes open for courses becoming available.

In the future, Dr. Cruz hopes that Lesley will offer a major in Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies.  Dr. Dockray-Miller says, “The expertise of Dr. Cruz has let us craft [this] minor from our existing curriculum; we are hoping that it will act as a model for other minors (in, say, Latinx studies), and eventually a major.”

For now, be sure to check out Dr. Cruz’s class “Black/Brown Cambridge: Methods & Practices in Oral History” (CHIST 3888), being offered in the Fall 2019 semester! If you have any questions about the new minor, you can email Dr. Cruz directly at or speak with your advisor about adding Africana Studies as your minor. And to look over all the courses, here is the link to the Lesley catalog:

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