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Now this might be a major that you never heard of or not familiar with. There are many reasons why, but the most common reason is that only few colleges and universities offer this major or this subject matter. Just because so few colleges and universities offer this major does not mean it is not on the rise. Student groups across the nation have been pushing for an Ethnic Studies department or faculty to be incorporated into their college or universities. Earlier this year, heated debates about integrating ethnic studies into the college general education curriculum drew press attention. Students at California State University, Los Angeles demanded their administration to add ethnic students to the general education curriculum, stating that it will “uplift their community… show[ing] that all of us are more alike than different.”  In Arizona, students and parents successfully repealed a ban on Ethnic Studies in classrooms, protecting their First and 14th amendment rights. So what is Ethnic Studies exactly and why is it so controversial? Luckily, you have found an article that will cover the basics of this subject area.

What is Ethnic Studies?

Defined by Berkeley’s Ethnic Studies Department, one of the first in the nation, Ethnic Studies is “an interdisciplinary enterprise that starts from the assumption that race and racism have been, and continue to be, profoundly powerful social and cultural forces in American society and in modernity at large.” Ethnic Studies aims to explore the inner-workings of race and culture in America and its effects on a group’s history and experiences. The interdisciplinary subject  also includes several concentrations such as African American/Black Studies, Asian Pacific Islander American Studies, Chicano/Latino Studies, and Native American Studies. At other universities such as University of Michigan and Williams College, the discipline is called American Studies.

Why do we need Ethnic Studies?

I, and many others, believe that Ethnic Studies is increasingly invaluable in our current society. With increasing incidences such as deaths of Private Danny Chen and Trayvon Martin, we need to understand the underlying racial tensions and oppression that fuel these unfortunate events. We need to be able to understand of the different histories and experiences of people from other backgrounds in order to prevent these incidences. Without a comprehensive understanding of different racial experiences in America, people will continually be marginalized by society, especially in the context of race.

What jobs can you get with Ethnics Studies?

While the skills and knowledge you develop as an Ethnic Studies major is absolutely invaluable in today’s society, it is always important to know possible career paths to follow. Below are possible careers to have with an Ethnic Studies major and that most directly relate to your academic coursework.

  • Academia (Professor, Teacher, Researcher)
  • Community Organizer
  • Ethnographer
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Non-Profits
  • Policy Analyst
  • Publishing

Since there aren’t many universities and colleges with Ethnic Studies, which universities do have it?

Although the movement is growing, a majority of colleges and universities still do not offer strong and lasting Ethnic Studies departments. If you have interested in Ethnic Studies, be sure to ask the prospective college or university if they offer this major or department. Below are several universities and colleges that offer strong and growing Ethnic Studies departments:



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