The upcoming fortieth anniversary of the establishment of a number of Black Studies programs around the country and the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the PhD program in African American Studies at Temple University are significant historical moments. As societies change and traditional disciplinary borders blur, discussions regarding new directions for the field are necessary if the field is to stay relevant as well as competitive in the twenty-first century. Public policy rang as a dominant theme throughout the presentations and discussion of this question. Baker introduced the idea that Black Studies perspectives can help to reframe issues around immigration. Through her reflections on the establishment of Critical Race Theory in law, Crenshaw offered a compelling argument regarding the value of the sociological school of thought for Black Studies. Boyce Davies made a number of salient points that included a need to return to activism as well as the impact of hybridity and the multiple voices vying for attention that divert administrators away from the needs of the field.
During the discussion, Alkalimat introduced the idea that the creation of digital data sets to be used by researchers in the field sparked a vigorous debate around control and content, access and housing, and the use of existing materials. Ronald W. Bailey and Kimberle Crenshaw emphasized the importance of developing and using databases generated from within the field, as well as the equal importance of reaching outside the borders of the field to tap into knowledge produced by scholars who “are doing work against the grain of their discipline but within the grain of what we are doing” regardless of the primary discipline from which the data was obtained.
“Question Three” clearly generated a wealth of ideas that called for further discussion while providing a myriad of new directions for Black Studies departments and programs to undertake.