Program of Study
The Bachelor of Arts in Ethnic Studies focuses on the study of the histories, experiences, cultures, and issues of racial-ethnic groups in the United States. The B.A. degree emphasizes the social and historical study of race and racism in the United States and explores systemic power relations that arise from institutional, cultural, and global productions of “race.” In this major, students gain both breadth and depth of study. Through the three thematic areas, students will engage a variety of issues that cut across various racial/ethnic communities. In so doing, students obtain insight on how issues play out both similarly and uniquely within and across racial/ethnic communities. In addition, students acquire deeper understanding of a specific historically marginalized community in the United States and/or of a thematic area by focusing electives in a particular area. The degree is structured in three themes:
Colonialism, Migration and Diasporas: This theme examines colonialism in domestic and/or international contexts, and the waves of (im)migration and resulting diasporas produced from exile. Students explore the political, economic, cultural and/or social forces that produce unequal relations (e.g., colonizer/colonized, propertied or dominant/dispossessed, and citizen/immigrant). Also considered are affected racial-ethnic communities’ responses to colonization or (im)migration.
The State, Inequality and Resistance: This theme explores the ways that the nation-state deploys power that unfairly and inequitably impact racial-ethnic relations, individual or cultural identities, and opportunities for advancement. Students examine institutional systems, discourses, and/or mechanisms of the state (e.g., legal, political, educational, criminal justice, bureaus and reservations, segregation and/or policies) that seek to control and contain populations. Along with the forms of resistance aggrieved groups undertake to challenge, resist and self-empower, consequences such as discrimination and inequalities produced by the state are considered.
Identities and Representation: This theme focuses on questions of identity, its construction for and by historically marginalized populations, and how representations and cultural practices are means to construct or sustain empowering and affirming cultural identities. Students will study modes of representation (e.g., media, artistic, or performative) adopted or created by marginalized groups as well as dominant representations of racial-ethnic communities.
Students’ required capstone projects must demonstrate proficiency in a selected theme (Colonialism, Migration and Diasporas; The State, Inequality and Resistance; or Identities and Representation). In so doing, students obtain insight on how issues play out both similarly and uniquely within and across racial/ethnic communities. Students acquire deeper understanding of a specific historically marginalized community in the United States and/or of a thematic area by focusing electives in a particular area. The capstone projects provide students a chance to demonstrate thematic depth and breadth of understanding and provides faculty an opportunity to assess program learning outcomes.
An Ethnic Studies degree provides students with theoretical understandings in racial and ethnic groups’ histories, experiences, and cultures that are organized by the themes structuring the major. The B.A. prepares students for a variety of occupations where knowledge and understanding of racial and ethnic groups is essential. These may include fields such as: education; diversity training in the private sector; social services; immigrant rights activism; federal, state, tribal and local government and community service; public health education and policy; union organizing; natural resources development and technology transfer (practices, economics, and law in ethnic contexts); media, archival and museum studies; non-profit agencies; politics; and graduate studies or professional programs.
Special Conditions for the Bachelor of Arts in Ethnic Studies
All courses taken for the major must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better.
The Bachelor of Arts in Ethnic Studies maintains the same general Undergraduate Admission and Graduation Requirements and/or Transfer Policies/Requirements described in California State University San Marcos’ catalog.
A minimum of eighteen (18) units of upper-division credits must be earned at CSUSM. No more than three (3) hours of independent study and/or internship may be applied toward the major.
Information and advising will be provided by the Program Director and/or faculty advisors in Ethnic Studies. Interested students should meet with a faculty advisor in Ethnic Studies as soon as possible to declare the major or the minor and to develop an appropriate, personalized theme of study that complements a student’s interests and career goals (e.g., African-American, Borderlands, Comparative Multicultural Studies). Petitions for lower-division course credit, and petitions to apply to the major or minor courses not listed, must be submitted to the Program Director.
Interdisciplinary Social Science Requirement (3 Units)
All Ethnic Studies majors must meet an Interdisciplinary Social Science (IDSS) requirement. This is satisfied with an approved lower-division interdisciplinary social science course from the following departments or programs: American Indian Studies, Anthropology, Border Studies, Environmental Studies, Geography, Global Studies, Linguistics, Social Sciences, and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. The course taken to satisfy this requirement cannot double count with other major requirements and must be outside the student’s major discipline.
Check the Class Schedule or Degree Planner for the most up-to-date list of courses satisfying this requirement.