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American Ethnic Studies

The American Ethnic Studies minor is an interdisciplinary program focusing on the comparative cultural heritage and experiences of various marginalized groups within the United States -- including but not limited to American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, African Americans, Latinos/Latinas, Arab Americans -- as well as on the body of scholarship and theory that has emerged around national and global issues of race and ethnicity. Course offerings cover a broad range of historical and contemporary dynamics of race and ethnicity in America, made manifest in privilege and power, cultural traditions, and social movements, as well as economic and political developments. The minor draws upon multiple disciplines and methodologies that include anthropology, art history, history, literature, rhetoric, politics, religion, and sociology. It affirms the integration of theory and practice through experiential education and civic engagement with communities of color.

Requirements for the American Ethnic Studies Minor (5 Credits)

Core courses (2 credits)

  • AES 150 Introduction to American Ethnic Studies
  • AES 330 Theory and Methods in American Ethnic Studies

Elective Courses (3): NOTE: at least two of these courses must be at the 300-level or higher and no more than two of these courses can be drawn from the same department.

  • AES 144 Topics in American Ethnic Studies
  • AES 344 Advanced Topics in American Ethnic Studies
  • ANTH 231 (TH; US) Native North American Cultures
  • ANTH 303 Museum Studies Seminar
  • ANTH 351 (EV) Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights, and the Environment
  • CCM 261 (EV) Persuasion and Mass Media: Race and Ethnicity*
  • CCM 360 Topics in Public Discourse: Race, Gender and the Public Sphere*
  • ENGL 116W (IT) Topics in American Literature*
  • ENGL 337 African American Literature I: Slave Narratives and Early African American Literary Tradition
  • ENGL 338 African American Literature II
  • ENGL 344 Major Authors*
  • ENGL 354 The Novel*
  • ENGL 361 Modern Poetry & Poetics
  • ENGL 450 Advanced Studies in Authorship*
  • HIST 131 (TH) Historical Inquiry*
  • HIST 259 American Jewish History
  • HIST 262 American Women's History
  • HIST 301W Themes in American Social History
  • HIST 306 History Through Biography*
  • HIST 307 American Immigration History
  • HIST 342 Studies in American History*
  • HIST 361 African American History 1619-1865
  • HIST 362 African American History 1865-present
  • IDS 205 Chemawa Indian School Partnership Program
  • IDS 215 Willamette Academy Service Learning (.5)
  • IDS 343 Field Studies in Chicago
  • IDS 396 Chemawa Indian School Partnership Program Internship
  • POLI 303 (EV) Topics in Political Theory
  • POLI 318 (EV) Death in America
  • REL 214 (TH) Religion in America
  • REL 252 Soul Food: Eating and Drinking in Western Religion
  • SOC 114 (US) Race and Ethnic Relations
  • SOC/ANTH 358 Topics in Sociology/Topics in Anthropology*

* Selected Topics Only

Indicators of Achievement

The American Ethnic Studies program is centered on developing students’ ability to critically analyze the role of race, ethnicity and power in the United States, and to effectively engage and communicate about difference. Our goal is that students completing the program understand and engage four key areas:

  • The historical construction of race and ethnicity in shaping the contemporary U.S. landscape
  • The political, economic and social dimensions of race and ethnicity, and the ways in which power gets embedded in these relationships
  • The role of symbolic and aesthetic expressions of traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic communities in the U.S., particularly as they serve to maintain, resist, and/or transform privilege and oppression
  • The development of identity, resistance and protest movements in the context of racial and ethnic marginalization in the U.S.

Student Learning Outcomes for the American Ethnic Studies Major

  1. History
    • Ability to articulate significant historical questions about changing constructions of race and ethnicity over time
    • Ability to articulate how historical forces shape constructions of race and ethnicity, and the impact of those constructions on particular groups at particular points in time
  2. Power
    • Ability to articulate significant questions and demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between political, economic, and social dimensions of race and ethnicity and their relationship to institutions and systems of power
  3. Culture
    • Ability to articulation of significant questions about the relationship between cultural expressions and efforts to maintain, resist and/or transform privilege and oppression
    • Demonstration of an understanding of the connections between cultural expression and power/privilege
  4. Resistance
    • Ability to articulate an understanding of the factors surrounding the emergence of identity, resistance and protest in contesting racial and ethnic marginalization
    • Ability to critically compare expressions of resistance among different groups or at different points in time and examine their impact

Faculty

Part-Time and Visiting Faculty


Course Listings

AES 144 Topics in American Ethnic Studies (1)

This course provides the flexibility to offer introductory topics of interest in American Ethnic Studies. The course may study a particular topic within American Ethnic Studies, or offer a survey of topics within American Ethnic Studies.

  • Prerequisite: Closed to junior and seniors, except by consent of instructor.
  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

AES 150 Introduction to American Ethnic Studies (1)

This course examines the historical, political and social dynamics of race and ethnicity in the United States. It investigates the creation and effects of these social concepts on the experiences, identities and relations of various peoples, as well as the culture and structures of society. The course will focus on the various ways race and ethnicity are recreated in society, particularly by the media, and the way these "social constructions" perpetuate privilege and social inequality. It will critically investigate the myths and contradictions of race and ethnicity, and will attempt to understand what purposes they serve in a "color-bound" contemporary U.S. society.

  • Prerequisite: Freshmen and Sophomores only or consent of instructor.
  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Drew

AES 330 Theory and Methods in American Ethnic Studies (1)

In this course, students will become familiar with the theoretical and methodological approaches in the interdisciplinary and evolving field of Ethnic Studies. It examines the key theories and methods that give voice to the realities of people of color, as well as group relations and resistance to inequality. This course analyzes the major theoretical paradigms for understanding race and ethnicity, evaluating the strengths and limitations for each framework in helping to bring about social change. It also explores and utilizes the methods of social science, recognizing the role, contribution and imitations of scientific inquiry for interpreting social reality. Other epistemological approaches will be assessed to determine what they bring to bare on empirical realities.

  • Prerequisite: AES 150; junior/senior standing; and at least one elective course in AES.
  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Drew

AES 344 Advanced Topics in American Ethnic Studies (1)

This course provides the flexibility to offer special topics of interest in American Ethnic Studies. The course may study a particular topic within American Ethnic Studies, or a particular problem dealing with American Ethnic Studies methods and/or theory in depth.

  • Prerequisite: Prior coursework in American Ethnic Studies. Closed to first year students, except by consent of instructor.
  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff