WCU Global Black Studies program shines

David Walton, who heads up the program, said GBS offers a diverse array of students the opportunity to study the Black experience. Donated photo David Walton, who heads up the program, said GBS offers a diverse array of students the opportunity to study the Black experience. Donated photo

Every year, the National Council for Black Studies, the preeminent professional Black studies organization, recognizes one academic program for outstanding achievement with the Sankore Institute Award. 

This year’s award recipient was Western Carolina University’s Global Black Studies program.

The GBS program offers innovative curriculum that leads to a minor. Enrollment has grown rapidly since its inception in 2022 with students showcasing excellence in research, community engagement and cam pus leadership.

“GBS has filled a critical need by allowing more students to see themselves in our curriculum and allowing more students to understand the history and culture of Black people in our world.  I particularly am excited that our GBS students have been attending professional meetings and becoming immersed in Black studies as an academic discipline,” said Dave Kinner, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Heading the program is David Walton, who said that GBS offers a diverse set of students – Black, white and a host of international students – an opportunity to study the Black experience through a comprehensive, interdisciplinary lens. Students from any major can study in the GBS program.

“We offer students a chance for self-improvement. GBS can enhance students professionally and better prepare them for a diverse world. The program can also serve as an intervention to racist thought, and it helps WCU to recruit and retain more Black students,” Walton said.

Related Items

Jasmine Burgess, a freshman double major in marketing and management, is pursuing the minor in GBS. She said Walton’s teachings encourages questions, curiosity and critical thinking.

“Dr. Walton is the first Black male educator I have ever encountered within my academic career. The GBS minor has enabled me to interact with educators with diverse backgrounds and knowledge to give me a more enriched curriculum than other fields,” Burgess said. “The minor will help me establish my identity as a Black woman, prepare myself with the academic knowledge to navigate American society and expand my view of the world and my culture.” 

Khadija Nicole Davis, a senior psychology major, said the program has helped navigate the complexities of diversity when working with clients from various backgrounds.

“The interdisciplinary nature examines the intricate interplay of race, gender and other identities in shaping human behavior and mental health outcomes,” Davis said. “This intersectional lens not only enriches research and practice but also empowers me to advocate for social justice and equity within marginalized communities.”

Davis also extended an invitation to WCU students to consider taking a GBS class, regardless of their academic interests.

“The GBS minor provides a unique opportunity to deepen your understanding of Black culture, history and experiences. Whether you’re passionate about history, sociology, literature, or any other field, GBS courses offer a transformative learning experience,” she said.

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.