Ethnic Studies is the systematic and comparative study of the social construction of race, racism, and racial or ethnic subordination, and the history, culture, and contemporary experiences of the four major racial/ ethnic groups in the United States. Ethnic studies students examine inter- and intra-group differences and commonalities in history, culture, racism, the impact of law, and social inequality in contemporary society on the various groups. Also examined are conflicts, tensions, and the building of effective inter-group coalitions and alliances among racially subordinated groups.
The Department of Ethnic Studies offers majors and minors leading to B.A. degrees in Ethnic Studies, African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicana(o)/Latina(o) Studies, and Native American Studies. Students may develop either a general, comparative emphasis in Ethnic Studies or a concentration on a specific group. Our focus is on social justice: on the histories of slavery, colonialism, segregation, economic exploitation and the continual forms of resistance people of color have developed in the struggle for civil, legal, and human rights. As an interdisciplinary field, students are trained in the research skills needed in traditional disciplines: history, literature, politics, sociology, psychology, law, and to develop their own independent analytic abilities of investigation.
The major enables students to study race and ethnicity in comparative perspective and in a global context, to gain greater multicultural insight and understanding, and to prepare them to enter the workforce and function effectively and critically as informed citizens in a diverse multicultural society.
With the changing ethnic and racial composition of society there is a growing demand for individuals in education, government, and the private sector with knowledge and expertise in race and ethnic relations. An Ethnic Studies major also helps to prepare students for graduate or professional school and careers in a number of areas including education, corrections, law, human services, social welfare, urban planning, and state and county government.