Starting in the fall of 2023, Williams will offer a new major in Africana studies and a concentration in Asian American studies. Both are the culmination of extensive advocacy, research and planning and were approved by faculty votes last fall.
Students have pressed for an Africana studies major for decades, advocacy that initially led to the creation of an Afro-American studies program in 1969.
The new major builds on the current Africana studies concentration, which will no longer be offered starting in 2026, once the new major is fully implemented. “While the new major places Williams at the forefront of liberal arts education, there remains an urgency to continue to expand the scope of Africana studies for our learning environment,” says James Manigault-Bryant, chair and professor of Africana studies.
Beginning in the early 1990s, students also advocated for developing an Asian American studies program.
“Something this momentous needs to be a collaborative effort, and I’m so glad to say it was,” says Jan Padios, chair and associate professor of American studies, who presented the proposal for the Asian American studies program to the faculty in December.
She adds, “I am not alone in hoping that Africana studies and Asian American studies at Williams become a way to strengthen how students and the larger campus community understand race and racism, colonialism and empire, immigration and diaspora, war and militarism, and so much more.”