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Ethnic Studies

¡Prefiero morir de pie que vivir siempre arrodillado! - Emiliano Zapata
It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.

The Center for Ethnic Studies (CES) is an interdisciplinary program that places historically marginalized groups such as American Indians, African Americans, Latinos/as and Asian Americans at the center of academic inquiry. The CES critically examines race and ethnic inequality and power relations in the United States, including institutional racism and white privilege.

Throughout history, Americans of color have been marginalized, disenfranchised, subordinated, excluded, denied basic civil and human rights, relocated, deported, imprisoned and exterminated. At the very core of ethnic studies lies the question: In the context of these historical and institutional realities, what does it really mean to be an U.S. American?

Ethnic studies emerged during the 1960s in California. Students of color, Blacks, Asian Americans, American Indians, and Latinos/as organized and demanded the inclusion of ethnic studies courses and the hiring of faculty of color. They fought for courses that included the perspectives, voices, and experiences of people of color who had traditionally been silenced and excluded from institutions of higher education. Today there are ethnic studies programs (majors, minors, certificates) at universities throughout the United States, including Wisconsin.


The ethnic studies minor may be combined with any major. The ethnic studies minor provides a sound grounding in diversity and intercultural issues which are increasingly important in the 21st century workplace. Ethnic studies alumni have continued on to graduate or law school for higher degrees. Alumni work in the public schools, social services, nonprofit organizations, private corporations, and media.


The ethnic studies minor consists of 21 credits. Core courses and electives excavate and examine the often ignored, obscured and misrepresented histories of American Indians, African Americans, Latinos/as, and Asian Americans. There are also opportunities to seek internships and conduct independent research as an ethnic studies minor.

Diversity (DV) Courses

The Center for Ethnic Studies reviews course syllabi to determine which courses meet the UW System 3-credit ethnic diversity (DV) requirement for graduation. DV courses focus on one or more of the historically underrepresented groups in the United States: American Indians, African Americans, Latinos/as and Asian Americans. The Center for Ethnic Studies works with individual faculty and instructors to develop new DV courses.


The Center of Ethnic Studies is engaged in programming that builds awareness of race, ethnicity, and institutional racism. In the past the CES sponsored guest speakers (Noel Ignatiev, Manning Marable, Peggy McIntosh), organized trips to UW-Milwaukee to attend lectures by prominent scholars: Bell Hooks, Angela Davis, Cornel West and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and sponsored a two-day conference on campus on Power and Privilege.

More recently the Center for Ethnic Studies has co-sponsored campus activities, such as the Human Race Machine and the Exhibit of Hateful Things.

What is the value of Ethnic Studies?

Ethnic studies holds a mirror to students, reflecting students' histories that are typically absent in academe. Ethnic studies' students are able to understand historical and cultural issues that are often the basis of human interaction in the public sphere and in the workplace. Ethnic studies trains students in skills valuable to all professional fields including the ability to think critically and independently, particularly in terms of historical, cultural and political analysis.

Laura Khoury
Greenquist 317
(262) 595-2590

900 Wood Road · P.O. Box 2000 · Kenosha, WI 53141-2000 P 262-595-2345

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