Ethnic Studies Minor

College of Liberal Arts
Undergraduate minor

About this program

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.

Student outcomes

Students will:

  • know and understand the socio-cultural and historical experiences of racialized communities of color in the United States within a comparative, transnational, and interdisciplinary framework. 
  • be able to understand and apply critical concepts of racialization, racial formation and their intersection with gender, sexuality, socio-economic class, and national and religious identity.
  • be able to analyze structures of dominance, power, and ideology and their concomitant perpetuation of racial inequality.
  • be able to recognize the multidimensional complexities of concepts of culture and their relationships to racialized communities.

Students will know and be able to apply the concepts, theories, and methods of interdisciplinary ethnic studies practices and scholarship to work towards social justice.

Enrolling in this program

Current students: Declare your program

Once you’re admitted as an undergraduate student and have met any further requirements your chosen program may have, you declare your major or declare a minor.

Future students: Apply now

Apply to Metropolitan State: Start the journey toward your Ethnic Studies Minor now. Learn about the steps to enroll or, if you have questions about what Metropolitan State can offer you, request information, visit campus or chat with an admissions counselor.

Get started on your Ethnic Studies Minor

Course requirements

Requirements (20 credits)

Core (8 credits)

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.

Full course description for Theories of Race, Ethnicity and Culture

Comparative (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

Full course description for Immigrant Communities and the Trajectories of Othering

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.

Full course description for The Politics of Racial Resistance and Protest in the United States

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.

Full course description for Environmental Justice and Public Policy

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.

Full course description for Major Issues in U.S. Race Relations

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.)

Full course description for Race and Public Policy

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.

Full course description for Understanding Racial and Ethnic Groups in the United States

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?

Full course description for Color of Incarceration

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.)

Full course description for Race and Religion

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.

Full course description for Trauma and Traumascapes: Identity, Legacy, and Memory

ETHS 324 Race, Identity, and the Internet

4 credits

This course examines conceptions and constructions of race in relation to the Internet as a multidimensional socio-cultural, economic, and political phenomenon, with a specific focus on the United States. Topics may include varied cultural histories and social impacts of the Internet; notions of identity on the Internet; race, embodiment, and disembodiment; social media, race, and racial controversy; electronic activism around race and racial identities on the Internet, and different theoretical approaches to understanding the unique socio-cultural dimensions of race and the Intemet. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

Full course description for Race, Identity, and the Internet

ETHS 326 Race and Work in American Life

4 credits

This course examines the influence of race on ideas and ideals of work in American life. Specific topics include the development of models and types of work across American epochs; slavery and labor; work, worth, and racial citizenship; the "wages of whiteness"; opportunities v. outcomes; past and present social movements for racial workplace equity; affirmative action and public policy positions regarding race and work; Intersectional analyses of race, gender, and sexuality in the workplace, implicit bias and persistent patterns of racial discrimination in the workplace; and race as a social reality within the American workplace. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

Full course description for Race and Work in American Life

Area studies (4 credits)

Select four credits from one group-specific focus area below. Do not mix and match courses from different groups to fulfill this requirement. Not all courses are offered every term and some are less than four 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.

Full course description for African Americans in Minnesota

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.

Full course description for Global Blackness

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.

Full course description for Contemporary Issues in Black America

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).

Full course description for Black Thought

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…

Full course description for Black Life in Wealth and Poverty

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.

Full course description for African American History

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.

Full course description for The Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s

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.

Full course description for African-American Literature

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.

Full course description for Black Women Writers

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?

Full course description for African and African-American Philosophy

American Indian Studies

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.

Full course description for American Indians in Minnesota

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.

Full course description for Topics in Contemporary Native North America

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.

Full course description for American Indian Spirituality

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.

Full course description for American Indian Nations: Law, Power, and Persistence

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.

Full course description for Dakota Language and Culture

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…

Full course description for American Indian History

LIT 363 American Indian Literature

4 credits

The course surveys Native American written, oral, musical, and filmic traditions, spanning voices from the pre-contact era to the contemporary moment. Readings develop themes and concepts central to Native narrative arts, such as cultural survival, migration, language and orality, landscape, folklore, spirituality, memory, colonization and decolonization, racism, violence, trauma, oppression, and sovereignty. Emphasizing an analytical approach, the course considers how marginalized indigenous arts participate in, react against, challenge, and redefine constructions of American literature. Significant focus is given to race and racism in this course.

Full course description for American Indian Literature

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.

Full course description for Ojibwe Culture and Language

Asian American Studies

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.

Full course description for History of Asian Americans

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.

Full course description for Asian American Women: Myths and Realities

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.

Full course description for Latino/Hispanic Cultural Competency: Introductory Concepts

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.

Full course description for Latinas/os in Minnesota

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.

Full course description for Latina/o Cultural Politics

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.

Full course description for Latina/o Gender and Sexuality