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Ethnic Studies

Offerings: Bachelor | Minor

Course Description


Ethnic Studies is the study of the histories, experiences, cultures, and issues of racial-ethnic groups in the United States. As an interdisciplinary major, the B.A. in Ethnic Studies emphasizes the social and historical study of race and racism in the United States. The Ethnic Studies discipline is defined by its attention to the systemic power relations that arise from institutional, cultural, and global productions of “race.” Through the study of power and its linkages to race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality students gain an understanding of historical movements for social transformation, resistance, and liberation. While the main focus is on the experiences of racialized peoples in the United States, the program also understands that race and racism are not unique to the United States. Committed to scholarly excellence and intellectual rigor, Ethnic Studies contributes to global discourses regarding human freedom. The program teaches students about the social dynamics of race, racism, structural violence, colonialism, legalized discrimination, assimilation, and the resulting impacts of such processes. Moreover, the program provides an in-depth understanding of our racial/ethnic diversity, indigenous and liberationist epistemologies, community and identity formation, artistic productions, and activism on the social, legal, and public policy front.

The major operates from a comparative approach. The Ethnic Studies core curriculum anchors students intellectually, theoretically, and methodologically. Augmenting the core, upper-division courses support the three themes of the curriculum: 1) Colonialism, Migration and Diasporas; 2) The State, Inequality and Resistance; and, 3) Identities and Representation. Students have the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of ethnic studies via application in a capstone project and/or fieldwork opportunities in racial-ethnic communities.


The Minor in Ethnic Studies at California State University San Marcos offers students majoring in another discipline the opportunity to study critically and systematically the experiences of racial/ethnic groups that have been economically, educationally, politically, legally, and/ or socially disadvantaged. It analyzes how these groups have been integrated or not into societ(ies) and how race/ethnicity has shaped identity. Offering global and U.S. perspectives, the minor supports the founding Mission Statement of the University by helping to prepare students “to live cooperatively and competitively in a world of cultural and ethnic diversity.” Since the minor helps students better understand the multi-ethnic cultures of which many modern nations are comprised, it enhances courses of study leading to career fields in both public and private sectors, such as business, education, law, medicine, public health, corrections, social work, journalism, public relations, politics, psychology, international relations, and creative writing. It also helps to prepare students for graduate study in related fields.


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