The center for ethnic studies


The Center for Ethnic Studies (CES) is an interdisciplinary program that helps you place historically marginalized groups such as American Indians, African Americans, Latinx, and Asian Americans at the center of academic inquiry. Critically examine race, 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.

Ethnic studies encourages you to hold a mirror and reflect on your history which is typically absent in academe. You will be 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 you in skills valuable to all professional fields including the ability to think critically and independently, particularly in terms of historical, cultural, and political analysis.


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.

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, the Exhibit of Hateful Things, and Dr. Ibram X. Kendi's How to be an Antiracist Campus and Community.


Laura Khoury  |

University of Wisconsin System Member
The Higher Learning Commission
Carnegie Foundation Elective Community Engagement Classification
UW Vets - Veterans Education & Transition to Success
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