Campus: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo -- November 2, 2005
Cal Poly Adds Bachelor's Degree in Ethnic Studies
Cal Poly will begin offering an undergraduate degree in ethnic studies in fall 2006.
The Bachelor of Arts degree in comparative ethnic studies was recently approved by California
State University Chancellor Charles Reed. Among the 23 CSU campuses, more than half offer
an ethnic studies major.
Cal Poly has been working toward this goal since 1992, when ethnic studies was established
as a university program. The program evolved into a department in 1994, when students could
opt to minor in ethnic studies.
The major offers students an opportunity to study the historical development and social
significance of race and ethnicity in the United States. Comparative ethnic studies uses an
interdisciplinary approach to examine the experiences and cultures of African-, Asian-,
Latino-, and Native-Americans in a national and international context. The degree program
is designed for those who are interested in addressing and exploring issues of diversity
locally and globally.
According to Department Chair Charise Cheney, courses in ethnic studies survey how race and
ethnicity affect access to political power and economic resources as well as how race and
racism influence cultural expression. "Not only will students develop a greater understanding
of the legacy of racism and discrimination in this country," she said, "but they will also
become knowledgeable of new and emerging information about diverse Americans and their
Major classes include introductory courses on Indigenous, Africana, Latino and Asian-American
studies, as well as courses on race, culture and politics in the United States; the global
origins of United States cultures; hip-hop poetics and politics; gender, race, science, and
technology; ethnicity and the land; the social construction of whiteness, and critical race
Ethnic studies is one of 17 departments in Cal Poly's College of Liberal Arts. In all, Cal
Poly offers 66 bachelor's degree programs, 23 master's degree programs, one doctorate of
education in association with UC Santa Barbara, 63 minors and 8 credentials.
For more information, contact Cheney at 756-1707 or