Wire stock photo
The university is in the process of building a race and ethnic studies curriculum that will include new courses focusing on Africana, Latin, Middle Eastern and Native American studies.
In the past, departments such as English, Social & Cultural Sciences and Philosophy have offered courses contributing to a similar program, but there has not been one specific path offered for students who want to major or minor in the subject.
The goal of this interdisciplinary major will be to help students see how various disciplines approach race and ethnicity based on different methodologies and theories. Students will be given the ability to see how their and others’ lives have been shaped by the concepts of race and ethnicity due to social, psychological and historical factors.
“A number of faculty members (have) been working on this initiative for many years. We now have support from the provost and president to move forward with our plans. It is an exciting time for those of us who’ve been involved with race and ethnic studies at Marquette for so long,” Dr. Heather Hathaway, associate dean of academic affairs in the College of Arts & Sciences, said.
What sets this program apart from others is how it will focus on areas surrounding the university.
“Our program is distinctive in that it adds a focus on the local: the demographics of Milwaukee will affect and shape what courses we offer, with the goal of helping students better understand how and why race and ethnicity, among other factors, function uniquely in Southeast Wisconsin,” Hathaway said. “We seek to provide students with a broad understanding of the field that is grounded in the local.”
While there have been no new hires for the program specifically yet, the current faculty working on the initiative are passionate about the changes.
“Some of the faculty working on the initiative here have obtained their doctorates from the nation’s best interdisciplinary race and ethnic studies programs,” Hathaway said. “Others who graduated with degrees in more traditional disciplines have made race and ethnic studies the central component of their research.”
Faculty members aren’t the only ones looking forward to the new race and ethnic studies program, as students are equally excited.
Kendra Klamm, a freshman in the College of Business Administration, said she sees the new program representing a number of cultures that are usually displayed in the student body through clubs, activities and groups.
“The fact that the university is willing to hire new faculty to help build the program shows how important these courses will be,” Klamm said.
The program will help focus on common ground between all humanity, said Dr. Roberta Coles, a social and cultural sciences professor.
“There is much in the field of race and ethnic studies that applies across races because we have our humanity in common,” Coles said. “Having that all under one umbrella major will enable us to apply those common concepts and approaches across race, allowing students to explore both the transcending perspectives and the distinctive experiences among cultures as well.”