The University of Illinois and College of Liberal Arts & Sciences are planning a new building for ethnic and gender and women’s studies that’s expected to greatly increase and improve teaching, research, and office spaces for several key departments and programs.

The university has approved a feasibility study for the structure, which will house the Departments of Gender & Women’s StudiesAfrican American StudiesAsian American Studies, and Latina/Latino Studies, and the Program in American Indian Studies.

Venetria K. Patton, Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of LAS, said the new building will reflect the college- and university-wide commitment to diversity and leadership in ethnic studies and gender and women’s studies. She added that the new space will enhance interaction among faculty, staff, and students; raise visibility for the units; and encourage new courses and academic programming.

Once completed, the new building will help concentrate expertise around existing and emerging research areas of excellence such as health disparities, racial and social inequality, and technological and cultural transformation. It will also help meet campus commitments to provide courses and support for the general education requirement in U.S. minority cultures while enabling development of new PhD programs in race, indigeneity, sexuality, and gender.

“We’re extremely pleased to be moving forward with plans for this building,” Patton said. “These units are vital to the goals and missions of the university and consistent with our college’s role as a leader on campus in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We anticipate that when these units come together in one new, bustling location, they will be stronger and offer more to our students and society than ever before.”