The Stony Brook Africana Studies Department is an intrinsically interdisciplinary unit that focuses on the histories, sociology, philosophy, literatures, politics, anthropology, religions, and experiences of people of African heritage wherever they are found within the larger national and global contexts. In addition to being intensely grounded in the scholarly enterprise, its faculty encourages social commitment, promotes sensitivity to the civil rights of all people, and teaches responsibility to community.
Africana Studies has existed as an academic unit at Stony Brook since 1968. Like other Black Studies programs, it was established as a result of the heated conflicts, debates, and civil unrest that affected civil society in the United States throughout the 1960s. These social upheavals that addressed issues of civil rights were spearheaded by people of various ethnic and racial backgrounds who came from all sectors of US society, but most especially from college campuses throughout the United States. In addition to addressing other important civil rights issues, the social activists who participated in these movements pointed out and sought to rectify the glaring biases and evident intellectual shortcomings manifested in the ways in which the traditional disciplines were being taught on US campuses as they tended to ignore, devalue, and misrepresent the contributions of peoples of African heritage and ancestry and thus distort our understanding of the world.