General Goals and Direction

The Center for Black Studies conducts research on the social, historical, political, and economic experiences and on the cultural meanings that have affected peoples of African heritage throughout the world. The Center sponsors a faculty development program via two dissertation fellowships per year; supports and disseminates faculty research; organizes and presents seminars, lectures, and symposia; and serves as a liaison between the campus and the Santa Barbara community. This year the Center's primary focus was organizing the conference on slavery and its economic impact.

Among other concerns, the Center for Black Studies must fulfill two primary goals:

(1) First, through its research and its public forums and colloquia, the Center must be a place to generate ideas on the culture, history, politics, economic factors and educational matters which have affected the course of life for various Black populations over time. In addition, it must address pressing contemporary issues for Africans, African-Americans, and other diasporatic communities and people of color. It must also study rapport between people of African descent, people of color and other groups.

(2) Furthermore, the Center must possess efficient tools to disseminate its research and the vigorous debates in which it engages throughout the larger community. It is precisely with the aim of fulfilling this startling void that a number of publishing ventures have been launched (see Publications). Various video projects (see Summary of Research Highlights and Other Projects and Activities) also aim at disseminating our ideas and research in the academic community and among the general public.

In 1998, the Center's Advisory Board members drafted a new mission statement which emphasizes their strong support for retaining the Center's public/cultural mission while also re-directing the Center's agenda towards a more systematic effort to engage in research and publications. Though the Center's old mission statement also indicated a commitment to research and public service, documents supporting work done in these areas are lacking. We are in the process of more systematically documenting past work done at the Center.

Mission Statement

The Center's two primary missions are:

Academic Mission

To organize, promote and administer interdisciplinary research among faculty and students on the social, political, historical, cultural, and economic experiences of people of African descent. The Center is also committed to facilitating rapport between people of African descent and other people of color as well as with the US population in general.

To disseminate the research products and the ideas generated therein through a variety of mechanisms including, but not limited to working papers, edited volumes, special editions of journals, conferences and colloquia.

To provide training in interdisciplinary scholarship for faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates.

To house, support, and mentor dissertation fellows.

Public Mission

One goal of the Center's research agenda is active engagement in shaping and implementing public policy. Therefore, the academic mission is complemented by a public mission. The Center's research agenda uniquely positions us to provide a critical synthesis of issues of race, social equality and justice.

Furthermore, the broader public mission embraces a commitment to community collaboration. This collaboration can take on many forms, including: enhancing communication between the university and the community on issues of mutual concern; facilitating access for the community to university resources; participating in the development and implementation of community based educational and social initiatives; and providing co-sponsorship for cultural activities on campus and in the community.