Cornell University's English department has voted to change its name to "the department of literatures in English" to better distinguish English the language from English the nationality.
The decision to change the name is to help eliminate the "conflation of English as a language and English as a nationality," said English professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies Kate McCullough.
According to English professor Carole Boyce-Davies, the proposal was brought about by the racial and political unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
"Faculty around the country — not just faculty of color, but faculty in general — began to look at the institution to see how we can help advance a discourse that challenges structural forms of racism which get reproduced in students and in teaching over and over again. What surprised us was the fact that so many of the white faculty of the English department signed on — we were amazed. By the time we were ready to officially take it to the department as a whole, we had over 75 percent of the faculty signed on," said Boyce-Davies.
The English department, with the majority of its faculty approving the change, is currently awaiting approval from college administration.