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School of Humanities and Social Sciences Critical Thinking (Newsletter): Department Highlights

The Departments and Interdisciplinary Programs of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences

In each issue of our newsletter Critical Thinking we highlight one or more of our eleven departments and seven interdisciplinary programs. Learn a fact you never knew about another department in the College (or even your own), celebrate faculty accomplishments and look forward to attending events sponsored by your colleagues and designed to expand your interests.


Africana Studies
Judaic Studies


Modern Languages and Literature
Political Science
Puerto Rican and Latino Studies
Speech Communication Arts and Sciences

Interdisciplinary Programs

American Studies Caribbean Studies
Children and Youth Studies
Studies in Religion
Urban Sustainability
Women and Gender Studies


Women and Gender Studies

Origins and Organization

The Women’s Studies program, founded in 1974 and redesigned as the Women and Gender Studies (WGST) Program in 2012, is one of eight interdisciplinary programs that finds its home in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS).  Since the program inception, 24 members of the Brooklyn College faculty, including some from departments outside of HSS, have served as program coordinators.  Professor Prudence Cumberbatch of the Africana Studies department has served as program coordinator for the past five years and is now in her final year in this position.











Poster designed by Professor Fredrica Wachsberger,

Brooklyn College Department of Art and Coordinator of the Women’s Studies Program 1975-79












The Brooklyn College WGST program has offered a minor in LGBTQ Studies since 2011, the first to do so of all the CUNY colleges

Since receiving an anonymous gift of $2 million in 2005, the WGST program has supported an Endowed Chair. Professor Premilla Nadasen, of Queens College, CUNY and an expert on African American feminism was the first to serve in the role.  Professor Nadasen’s 2005 book, Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States won the John Hope Franklin Publication Prize awarded by the American Studies Association for best book in American Studies that same year.  Professor Swapna Banerjee, of the Brooklyn College history department, currently serves as the Endowed Chair, in a tenure that runs from 2016-2018. Her research examines the intersection of gender, class, race, and ethnicity, with respect to women, children, servants, and other marginalized groups in South Asia. She was awarded the Ethyle R. Wolfe Fellowship in Humanities (2013-14) and the Whiting fellowship (2008) for excellence in teaching from Brooklyn College.

A Proud Past, an Accomplished Present

Did you know….

As of Fall 2017, the WGST program includes: 42 student majors, 13 WGST minors, 3 LGBTQ Minors

The original founders of the Women’s Studies Program include Tucker Pamella Farley of English, Pat Lander of Anthropology, Renate Bridenthal of History, Lilia Melani of English and Fredrica Wachsberger of Art History. Check out the oral history interview with Renate Bridenthal in the CUNY Digital History Archive (

Professor Zinga Fraser, the Director of the Shirley Chisholm Project, was selected as an American Association of University Women, American Fellowships Postdoctoral Fellow, 2017-2018 and has been interviewed extensively on Representative Chisholm in the media. 

Listen to Professor Zinga Fraser discussing Shirley Chisholm in a program "Female Political Trailblazers from New York" on C-SPAN, November 9, 2016


Upcoming Events

WGST has always maintained a busy calendar of speakers and events. This coming academic year, we can look forward to hearing Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand’s Sekhar Bandyopadhyay talk, “Situating Women in the History of Partition in South Asia,” Bonnie Anderson, Emerita Professor of History, Brooklyn College speaking about, “Ernestine Rose: International Feminist Pioneer: The Rabbi’s Atheist Daughter,” Rebecca Karl, History Department, New York University (NYU) on “Labor in the Family: Theoretical Perspectives from Early Chinese Feminism” and Barbara Winslow, Emerita Professor of the School of Education who will launch her book, “A Century of Struggles in New York: Class, Race, Gender and Women's Suffrage.”

We can also look forward to the fifth annual Women’s Leadership/Mentor Luncheon in October 2017 and the first LGBTQ Leadership/Mentor Luncheon in April 2017.



Professor Prudence Cumberbatch
Coordinator of Women and Gender Studies





September 2017


Department of History

The Brooklyn College Department of History has a proud history of its own.  John Hope Franklin came as chair in 1956 and was the first African American scholar to head a history department at a non-Historically Black College.  According to Gunja SenGupta, the current department chair, Franklin’s book From Slavery to Freedom, “transformed and pluralized the prisms through which historians read the nation’s past forever.” Brooklyn College trustee, former dean, and noted historian, Kimberley Phillips Boehm, made a generous donation to enable the History Department, in collaboration with Africana Studies and Women’s Studies, to establish “John Franklin Day” in February 2017.

Currently the department’s 17 distinguished scholars specialize in a range of fields covering ancient Jewish history, medieval Europe, Russia, France, science and philosophy in Islam, histories of India, the Modern Middle East, Latin America, and the U.S. from the colonial era through the present in all its aspects: from the Presidency, Congress, foreign policy, labor, economic, environmental, African American and women’s history, to popular culture and public health, and the Americas in transnational and comparative perspective.

Recent scholarly output from the department includes four books:

  • Bonnie S. Anderson, Ernestine Rose: The Rabbi’s Atheist Daughter (New York; Oxford University Press, 2016)
  • K.C. Johnson (with Stuart Taylor), The Campus Rape Frenzy (Encounter Books, 2017)
  • Steve Remy, The Malmedy Massacre: The War Crimes Trial Controversy (Harvard University Press, 2017)
  • Jocelyn Wills, Tug of War: Surveillance Capitalism, Military Contracting, and the Rise of the Security State (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2017)

The department is particularly proud of how it brings scholarship to the public and engages with the community.  Phil Napoli served as a consultant to the New York Historical Society’s upcoming exhibition on Vietnam, Lauren Macia has lectured on medieval art at the Cloisters, and Benjamin Carp delivered a talk on New York and the Revolution at the New York Historical Society. 

Also of note, Professor Bilal Ibrahim is one of the recipients of the CUNY Academy' for the Humanities and Sciences Henry Wasser Awards for 2017.

History majors also contribute to the vital life of the department.  They run events through the Brooklyn College Historical Society, and published their first journal Clio in Spring 2017.

Upcoming Events

October 20, 2017 - CUNY Academy' for the Humanities and Sciences Henry Wasser Awards for 2017.  Awardee Bilal Ibrahim will give a short talk on his scholarly work along with other awardees.