Black Studies Website

By Molly Igoe

Elm Staff Writer

What exactly is a Black Studies minor? The newly redesigned webpage on Washington College’s website gives details and information regarding the program.

Dr. Elena Deanda is the director of the Black Studies Program and an assistant professor of Spanish at the College. As the new director, she wanted to make the website more informative to attract students and to wfoster awareness of the program.

She said, “The webpage provides more information and resources regarding black studies, and stresses the importance of the minor.” The homepage is titled “Giving voice to the Black Experience” and it has tabs that include faculty, news and events, academic requirements, alumni,  resources, information about the essay award, and why the minor is relevant.

On the homepage one can find a general description of the program, “The Black Studies program at Washington College offers an interdisciplinary study of the multifaceted history, culture and lives of people of African descent.” Upcoming and past events are advertised, including the upcoming Multicultural Student Overnight Program on April 11.

Dr. Deanda said, “The Black Studies minor creates awareness and discussions about America and the rest of the globalized world and links it with the African experience…. The minor includes taking a range of classes in different areas, like history, sociology, humanities, literature, and music. It also teaches critical thinking skills, which looks good on a resume.”

Dr. Deanda said, “I do not feel the minor is underrepresented, I feel that students normally engage with these classes since they take them regularly (the BLS cross-listed classes), yet they fail to engage with the topic, the themes.”

Dr. Deanda said, “I took the position as director of this program because it is right up my alley, and I believe that this program relates to everyone who is interested in cultivating diversity and multiculturalism.”

Some faculty members that teach courses in the minor include Assistant Professor of sociology Dr. Rachel Durso, Associate Professor of English and American Studies Dr. Alisha Knight, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies Dr. Christine Wade, Chair of the Music Department Dr. Kenneth Schweitzer, and American History Professor Dr. Carol Wilson. This range of disciplines demonstrates the diversity of classes offered within the program.

The Black Studies Essay Award, which is due by May 1, gives students of all grades the opportunity to write about populations in Africa or of African descent in the United States, Latin America, or the Caribbean. The winner will receive $250.

The resources tab shows on-campus resources like the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Frederick Douglas Fellowship, and the Global Education Office. There are also a lot of off-campus resources, like The Black Youth Project website and academic journals like the African American Review for students to access directly.

The Black Studies program also has a Facebook page, which Deanda said, “has interesting notes, events, news, and special articles related to the topic of African-American and African Studies. It is vigorously updated.”

Dr. Deanda said, “Black studies is such a relevant and useful minor, not just for people who have African descendants, but for everyone.” For more information visit

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