Program Overview

Ethnic Studies is a study of people of color and their experience in all dimensions of life. Our curriculum aims to understand and pose questions that critically consider notions of and meanings regarding race, sexuality, gender, class, nation, indigeneity and immigration.

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Prerequisites: None

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Course List

Prerequisites

Requirements ( 20 total credits)

Core Courses (8 credits)

  • ETHS 100 Introduction to Ethnic Studies
    4 credits

    This course is designed to look at the origin, development and mission of ethnic studies within the context of higher education in the United States. It provides an introduction to the history of racial/ethnic and cultural communities and race relations. In addition, students study the structure and purpose of U.S. higher education and its relations to ethnic communities.

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  • ETHS 200 Theories of Race, Ethnicity and Culture
    4 credits

    This course examines the conceptual development of race, ethnicity and culture from a variety of perspectives, including the development of ideas about race, the relationship between race and ethnicity, notions of culture and cultural authenticity, racism, white supremacy and inequality, and critical approaches to these concepts. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

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Comparative Courses (8 credits)

  • ETHS 302 Immigrant Communities and the Trajectories of Othering
    4 credits

    This course takes a systematic and historic look at immigration as an American national mythos and examines how immigration intersects with race and racial difference, and has affected the development of Black, Asian, Latino and Indigenous cultures and communities within the United States. Topics include immigration histories and experiences, critical conceptions of race, ethnicity, and migration, assimilation and acculturation processes, and social, cultural, and policy responses to migration. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism

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  • ETHS 303 The Politics of Racial Resistance and Protest in the United States
    4 credits

    There have been various efforts by individuals and communities of color as well as Native communities to challenge institutional racism, state oppression, and other intersectional forms of domination along with their devastating impact on the parameters of everyday life, the human psyche, families, and American society. These individual acts of protest and social resistance movements continue to play a central role in the construction of politicized racial/indigenous identities and they also inform our understanding of the histories of these communities as well as the structures of settler colonialism, enslavement, nation building, and white supremacy. This class will read personal acts of resistance alongside modern social movements, paying close attention to their relationships to and impacts on racial, ethnic, and indigenous identity; social consciousness; power and agency; and revolutionary freedom in the United States.

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  • ETHS 304 Environmental Justice and Public Policy
    4 credits

    This class focuses on the history and background of the social and environmental issues confronting racial and ethnic communities in the United States. Students learn about the practice and politics of ecological inequality, community initiatives which have developed to combat such inequality, and how environmental justice has emerged as a viable and powerful political movement. This course is useful to students interested in environment and public policy as well as racial and ethnic studies.

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  • ETHS 305 Major Issues in U.S. Race Relations
    4 credits

    Will race matter in this millennium? This course explores major issues currently impacting race relations in the United States, such as affirmative action, immigrant education, employment, housing, health and welfare, and so on. This course takes historical and interdisciplinary approaches to help students understand the interrelationship between social structure, public policies, race and ethnicity. Videos and movies are shown as part of class discussion on these issues.

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  • ETHS 306 Politics of Mixed Racial Identity
    4 credits

    This course focuses on the phenomenon of mixed race descent in the United States. For comparative purposes, the course also explores the topic in relation to other nations. Included in the course are historical perspectives, and exploration of the psychology, sociology and literature associated with mixed race descent.

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  • ETHS 309 Race and Public Policy
    4 credits

    This course will examine public policy and its impact on historically and politically disenfranchised communities of color in America, by first understanding public policy as an emerging practice that when juxtaposed with historically emergent notions of "race" in America, offers us a more complete vista of what public policy means (both explicitly and implicitly), an how that policy comes to function (both in the private and public realms of human socioeconomic activity.)

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  • ETHS 311 Understanding Racial and Ethnic Groups in the United States
    4 credits

    This course examines historical experiences of at least three racial groups. Groups explored include African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, Chicanos/Latinos and European immigrants. The course considers the different experiences of these groups as impacted by gender, class and other factors. It aims to deepen and broaden students' understanding of racial and ethnic groups in the United States by studying the similarities and differences of their experiences.

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  • ETHS 315 Color of Incarceration
    4 credits

    This course examines the U.S. prison population and system. Important questions to be explored are: Why are communities of color over represented in U.S. prisons? Is there an inherent racial bias of law enforcement agencies which result in greater arrest and incarceration of African Americans and other racial and ethnic groups? How does the criminalization of political acts effect various movements of social change?

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  • ETHS 316 Race and Religion
    4 credits

    This course explores the role and function of religion in the lives of American racial and ethnic groups. It also addresses how religious belief has helped different racial groups in sustaining their struggle for survival and inspiring their lives. Topics covered include the concepts of identity, selfhood, community, spirituality, social responsibility, salvation and freedom. Certain religious tradition, such as African American, American Indian and Asian American, are discussed in the light of histories of the groups. (Also listed as RelS 333 Race and Religion.)

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  • ETHS 318 Trauma and Traumascapes: Identity, Legacy, and Memory
    4 credits

    This course examines multiple intergenerational impacts and legacies of trauma, focused on concepts of community trauma, perpetrator trauma, and historic and contemporary traumatic events and actions affecting communities of color, Indigenous peoples, and ethnic and ethnoreligious groups. The course examines different sites of trauma, representation of trauma in various media, narratives of loss, mourning, and coping, and the socio-cultural politics of trauma. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

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  • ETHS 380 Special Topics in Ethnic Studies
    0 credits

    This course considers topics of current or relevant importance in either communities of color or in the field of ethnic studies and are offered for variable credit. Since the topics change from semester to semester consult the Class Schedule for specific topic listing. If more than one topics course is taken in fulfillment of the major, they must be different topics course titles.

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Area Studies Courses (4 credits)

Select 4 credits from one Group-Specific focus area below. Students may not mix and match courses from different groups to fulfill this requirement. Please note not all courses are offered every term and some are less than 4 credits.

Black Studies:

  • ETHS 244 African Americans in Minnesota
    2 credits

    This course provides a context and a baseline for knowledge about Minnesota African American communities. This course includes an overview of the past and present experiences, struggles, and issues and the intersections of the past and the present in Minnesota African American communities. Students will have an opportunity to complete a community-based project as part of the requirements for this course.

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  • ETHS 270 Global Blackness
    4 credits

    This global, cross-cultural survey course introduces students to a range of texts produced by and about black subjects that link transnational black communities. Students will learn about the legacy of European expansion and empire-building, the impact of the transatlantic slave trade in the New World, and the contemporary diversity of black cultural identities, politics, and expressions born from these conditions. Students will also analyze the lived experiences of immigrants as they negotiate citizenship, belonging, conflict, and representation as new blacks in societies where systems of domination and oppression exist as part of everyday life.

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  • ETHS 342 Contemporary Issues in Black America
    4 credits

    Using contemporary research, first person narratives, and data, students will examine the state of Black America while addressing complex economic, social, political, and environmental issues that Black communities and Black people across the United States continue to face. Students can expect to engage with a range of interdisciplinary texts and sources in order to contextualize Black achievement and progress alongside ongoing resistance movements and demands for social justice. Materials focused on the legacy of enslavement, the impact of centuries of anti-black policies and practices, and the depth of state violence will be covered in order to illuminate contemporary issues related to housing, education, policing, health, work, and everyday life and their impact on Black communities. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

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  • ETHS 370 Black Thought
    4 credits

    This course will explore the cultural, intellectual, and political knowledge produced by Black people in the United States and within the African Diaspora and how this knowledge continues to define, expand, and challenge the textured experiences of Black life in America and the world. Students will be exposed to a genealogy of Black thinkers, artists, activists, and critics who view the production, analysis, and dissemination of knowledge as necessary responses to structures of social, political, and economic domination and oppression. Students will also consider the extent to which knowledge has shifted meanings of blackness across time and space as well as in response to specific structures and events (slavery, colonialism, liberation, neoliberalism).

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  • ETHS 375 Black Life in Wealth and Poverty
    4 credits

    This course will introduce students to the lived realities of social class through the lens of of black Americans whose social and economic ties to wealth and ownership have been obstructed via enslavement, job and housing discrimination, and other forms of institutional racism. Fraught with contention, students will analyze material related to racial authenticity and the expectation of communal obligation in instances when wealth and related privileges have been amassed as well as examine reasons why individuals in positions of economic privilege have distanced themselves from the black underclass. Through engaging with autobiographies, novels, music, documentaries, and cultural criticism, students will come to understand the relationship between the historic legacy of European and American wealth building and the shaping of contemporary black America: from objects of ownership to a community stratified in large numbers in the lower and middle classes to a strong social resistance against measures designed to "level the playing field." Some of the specific themes this class will cover are black working class identity; the impact of wealth or poverty on the family, children, and community; crime and violence; strategies for survival and empowerment; intragroup class tensions; and issues facing the black middle class. By the end of this course, students are expected to understand key themes such as institutional racism, colorism, interlocking oppressions, economic discrimination, affirmative action, and how they facilitate or complicate black identities and lived realities related to the acquisition or absence of wealth.

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  • HIST 311 African American History
    4 credits

    This course examines the history of African Americans and race relations in the United States from slavery to freedom. Emphasis is on putting the experiences of African Americans in the context of U.S. social, cultural and political history. The course encourages examination of primary sources (such as slave narratives, newspapers and speeches) to illuminate an African-American cultural and intellectual tradition in U.S. arts and letters. Assignments include library and/or other research.

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  • HIST 315 The Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s
    4 credits

    The Civil Rights revolution of the 1960s represents the culmination of decades of effort, a change in civil rights legislation and a touchstone for subsequent "revolutions." It changed the then current laws and it relied upon law to demand those changes. Many of the debates started then, and continue today. Through reading, discussion, lectures and videos, students study the people, the events (as well as their antecedents and their progeny), and the ideas of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

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  • LIT 361 African-American Literature
    4 credits

    Through films, poetry, autobiography, novels, lyrics, and short essays, this intermediate-level survey course explores African-American literature from a historical perspective ranging from the works of enslaved authors to contemporary spoken-word poetry. The course celebrates the historical and aesthetic development of African-American literary arts in the face of (often legalized) racial oppression. Students learn techniques and theories for critical reading to explore literary issues related to culture, race, and social history. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism in this literature course.

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  • LIT 362 Black Women Writers
    4 credits

    This course explores the literature by African-American women writers from the 18th century to the present, analyzing their depictions of racism, sexism, and classism as artistic, moral, and civic responses to inequality. Students learn techniques for critical reading and literary analysis at the upper-division humanities level to understand how these creative works explore issues related to the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow laws, and the influence these writers had on cultural events, such as anti-lynching journalism, the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights Era, and the Women¿s Liberation Movement.

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  • PHIL 362 African and African-American Philosophy
    4 credits

    This course examines philosophical works produced in Africa and about Africa, as well as work by and about African Americans. Topics may include: the ethno philosophy of Africa; the philosophy of liberation movements in Africa, the Caribbean and the United States; and contemporary philosophy in the United States and Europe as written by persons of African descent. Questions raised could include: Is there an "African philosophy"? What should the goals of liberation be? In what sense is there a "Black identity?" Are racial solidarity and racism related? How has the experience of persons of African descent been recorded philosophically? What is the experience of African-American intellectuals like?

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  • PSYC 328 Psychology of African Americans
    4 credits

    This course investigates the African-American experience from a social psychological perspective. The course gives students insights on one of the largest racial cultural groups in the United States, and the impact of African Americans on the American social system.

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American Indian Studies:

  • ETHS 231 Global Native and Indigenous Studies
    4 credits

    This course serves as an introduction to higher level offerings focusing on Native perspectives and experiences. Self-expression, self-definition, and self-determination, including and beyond the Native North American context, provide the basis of comparison in order to make visible Native experiences around the world. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

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  • ETHS 232 American Indians in Minnesota
    2 credits

    This course provides a context and a baseline for knowledge about Minnesota American Indian urban, rural and reservation communities. The course includes an overview of both the past and present experiences, struggles, and issues and the intersections of the past and the present in Minnesota American Indian communities. Students will have an opportunity to complete a community-based project as part of the requirements for this course. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

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  • ETHS 332 Topics in Contemporary Native North America
    4 credits

    This course examines significant and current issues in Native America. Drawing across disciplines and tribal communities, the course interweaves the following topics: tribal self-determination; federal, tribal, and state relationships; economic development; language preservation; education; health disparities and health promotion; ethnic identity; urban experiences, and Native American media and art. This class presents Indigenous peoples as modern peoples, not as images from the past. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

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  • ETHS 334 American Indian Spirituality
    4 credits

    American Indians have a wonderfully rich tradition of wisdom and spirituality. This course looks at the spirituality of at least two nations of American Indians from a variety of perspectives including historical, sociological, anthropological and political. Students have the option to explore other American Indian nations if desired. Some community research is expected. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

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  • ETHS 335 American Indian Nations: Law, Power, and Persistence
    4 credits

    This course focuses on tribal communities as nations set within unique political, linguistic, geographic, social, and cultural contexts. This course will cover a diversity of American Indian Nations' past and present governance and social systems. The course emphasizes the importance of land, treaties, and sovereignty. The background of Federal Indian policy (set through the executive, judicial, and congressional branches) and state influences on Native nations also serves as a component throughout the course.

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  • DKTA 100 Dakota Language and Culture
    4 credits

    This course applies an immersion approach to learning Dakota, the Indigenous language of the Dakota people. The language offers key insights into the formation and transmission of Dakota cultural identities and worldviews. The course is part of larger community efforts to retain and use Dakota and contribute to world-wide efforts to preserve Indigenous languages. Students in the course will learn Dakota grammatical structures and build a working vocabulary sufficient for beginning-level conversations.

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  • HIST 310 American Indian History
    4 credits

    History 310 is a general survey of the history Native North American nations from pre-contact through the late 20th century. Partly chronological and partly thematic, the course makes use of readings, lectures, films, group projects, community investigation and class discussion to introduce students to the rich diversity of Native North American societies and cultures. A key focus will be the efforts of Native Americans to revitalize their societies through incorporating change within a culturally persistent world-view despite racism associated with the enormous European and European American pressure to assimilate into the dominant society. Course materials will also focus on how Europeans and European Americans were also confronted with the task of incorporating change introduced by Native Americans into their own world-view. The impact of contact and exchange profoundly affected both Native Americans and Europeans and is still affecting their descendants today. Students will be given the opportunity to explore Twin Cities' resources and take a turn at leading a class discussion. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

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  • LIT 363 American Indian Literature
    4 credits

    This course introduces students to the literary styles of Native American authors and the cultural systems from which they draw. The course surveys traditional foundations of various types of native literature through sound, music, natural cycles, spirituality and mystic symbols.

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  • OJIB 100 Ojibwe Culture and Language
    4 credits

    This course applies an immersion approach to learning ojibwemowin, the Ojibwe language. The language offers key insights into the formation and transmission of Ojibwe cultural identities and worldviews. The course is part of larger community efforts to retain and use ojibwemowin and contribute to world-wide efforts to preserve Indigenous languages. Students in the course will learn ojibwemowin grammatical structures and build a working vocabulary sufficient for beginning-level conversations.

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Asian American Studies:

  • ETHS 262 Asian Americans in Minnesota
    2 credits

    This course provides the historical and contemporary perspectives of Asian Americans in Minnesota from the late 1800s to the present. the historical overview includes immigration and refugee experiences. The contemporary component includes demographics, struggles, conflicts and opportunities of Asian Americans in the state.

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  • ETHS 361 History of Asian Americans
    4 credits

    A majority of U.S. immigrants today come from Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. This immigration pattern represents a significant departure from the past, when immigrants came from very different regions of the world. This course traces the unique story of Asian Americans following them from their early days to modern times and analyzing issues with which the group is faced. Short videos and movies are shown followed by discussion.

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  • ETHS 363 Asian American Women: Myths and Realities
    4 credits

    This course examines myths and ideological teachings concerning Asian American women, and how these shape their experiences in the United States. Analyses of myths about Asian American women as obedient, submissive, and as sexual objects will be explored. Scholarly writings that present knowledge and critical understanding of these women's experiences and their issues will be part of course readings and discussions.

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Latina/o Studies:

  • ETHS 250 Latino/Hispanic Cultural Competency: Introductory Concepts
    4 credits

    This class introduces students to the primary social, historical, cultural, and political dimensions, issues and debates of Latinos/Hispanics in the United States, including race, ethnicity, immigration, assimilation, language politics, education, varied aspects of public policy, and popular culture. This introductory concepts course is relevant to students thinking of careers in the helping professions, law enforcement, business, finance, marketing, and the humanities and social sciences, in developing Latino/Hispanic cultural competency. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

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  • ETHS 252 Latinas/os in Minnesota
    2 credits

    This course studies the history and experience of Chicanos and Latinos in Minnesota, including the origins of the Chicano/Latino community, social and political histories, and contemporary issues affecting Chicanos and Latinos in Minnesota. Focuses include immigration to the state; agricultural and urban labor history and settlement patterns; contemporary immigrations streams; race, racism, and xenophobia; and the development of community organizations focused on Latino issues. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

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  • ETHS 352 Latina/o Cultural Politics
    4 credits

    This course studies the cultural politics of US Latino identity formation through an examination of the English-language literary, filmic, and artistic production of Latinos in the United States, with variable topical focuses on coming of age narratives, migration, education, gender, sexuality, the family, cultural identities, and assimilation. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

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  • ETHS 354 Latina/o Gender and Sexuality
    4 credits

    This course studies concepts of gender and sexuality in US Latina/o communities. Particular foci of the course are concepts of femininity and masculinity, the family, feminist critical analysis, and contemporary Latina/o lesbian and gay expressions of identity. The course approaches its topics through an interdisciplinary framework using scholarship, memoir, manifesto, and popular culture.

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