Professor Spotlight- Dr. Natanya Duncan, Director of Africana Studies at QC

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Professor Duncan, an associate professor in history and the newly appointed Director at Africana Studies Department at QC, sat down with The Knight News to tell us about her journey as an academic. 

Duncan’s goal as director of the Africana Studies Department is to implement three core steps in the department: curriculum revision, experiential learning options, and community engagement. Curriculum revision would include “expanding course offerings, revise and update courses presently in the catalogue, and encourage meaningful cross courses. Experiential learning options would mean “public and classroom intergenerational and interpersonal dialogues with historical actors and public figures and classroom extended learning via onsite experiences in spaces where the currents of Africana Studies can continue to unfold.” Duncan wants to partner with and incorporate QC extended community as a part of programming events, have more syllabus components, and implement internship/research sites for students to foster community engagement. 

Not only is Duncan the Director of Africana Studies at QC, she sits on the board of many organizations which promote the continuation and expansion of Africana Studies. She sits on the board for the Association of the World-wide Study of African Diaspora (ASWAD), the Association for the study of African American LIfe and History (ASALH), the Southern Association of Women Historians (SAWH) , and the Coordinating Council of Women Historians (CCWH). Duncan commented thusly on her membership on these boards: “In each organization, I serve in capacities that impact conference programming; awards/prizes; increasing membership; mentoring early career and peer academics; and funding toward increasing opportunities for faculty of color and other underrepresented groups whose scholarship and academic paths enrich the field of Africana Studies.” 

Duncan sees compelling trends currently unfolding in Africana Studies, such as the issue of critical race theory and the adoption of CUNY’s BRESI mandate. BRESI, or Black, Race and Ethnic Studies Initiative, is a movement CUNY has taken upon itself to allocate funds that the Andrew Mellon Foundation gave to foster diversity within higher education. Duncan also highlights some things that readers should be on the lookout for within Africana Studies such as book-banning, limited funding opportunities for knowledge production, and controversy surrounding implementation of critical race theory in the classroom. The Knight News welcomes Prof. Duncan to her new post and wishes her great success.

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