PART implementation team publishes report on Black Studies program, Black Studies Diplomas

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The President's Anti-Racism Taskforce (PART) Black Studies Implementation Team has published a report on the development of a Black Studies program at the University of Waterloo. In addition, two Black Studies Diplomas are making their way through the approvals process with the plan that they will be offered at Waterloo beginning Fall Term 2022.

The report presents a comprehensive summary of efforts that administration, faculty, staff, and students at the University of Waterloo pursued from July 2020 to June 2021 to develop academic programming in this discipline, and includes the results of a survey of the University community taken in the spring. The purpose of the report was to publish a centralized collection of the implementation team's activities in developing programming in Black Studies, to describe ongoing and future directions, and make recommendations for further development and support of Black Studies at the University of Waterloo.

The report was drafted by Dr. Vershawn Young, lead of the Black Studies Implementation Team and a professor in English Language and Literature and Communication Arts in the Faculty of Arts, with research assistance from MITACS international intern Varsha Gopal. The other members of the Implementation Team are Dr. Christopher Taylor, HREI (Equity Office), Definite Term Lecturer, History & Arts First and Dr. Kathy Hogarth, Special Advisor to VPRI/PART and Associate Professor of Social Work, Renison College.

The survey, circulated in March, received 480 responses, with undergraduate students making up 35 per cent of respondents, staff 30 per cent, faculty 21 per cent, and graduate students 6 per cent. Among the survey's findings: 

  1. 26 per cent of faculty mentioned their willingness to teach a course in Black Studies/Indigenous Studies program;
  2. 29 per cent of students have already taken a course on Black Studies and 35 per cent of students have already taken a course on Indigenous Studies;
  3. 87 per cent of students expressed interest in taking a Black Studies course and 90 per cent of students expressed interest in taking an Indigenous Studies course.  

"The interest in Black Studies across campus is encouraging," said Professor Young. "I am most impressed by the initial show of student interest in our upcoming courses and the support from colleagues in various faculties who are helping the discipline come to fruition at the University."

In the immediate term, the two new diplomas in Black Studies have been approved by the Arts Undergraduate Affairs Group (UGAG) are awaiting final approval by the Senate: a Diploma in Fundamentals of Anti-Racist Communication and a Diploma in Black Studies.