Ethnic Studies expands its impact across campus

Ethnic Studies expands its impact across campus

The Department of Ethnic Studies has a long history of working closely with other units on campus, and it’s continuing that legacy by launching a host of new initiatives to further emphasize diversity, multiculturalism, and women’s studies across the university.

They include efforts to:

  • Create an ethnic studies pathway in the Social Studies Teacher Licensure Program in the School of Education
  • Form a new “diversity certificate” aimed at students in business and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.
  • Offer a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies
  • Develop an online interdisciplinary master’s program in the Denver Broncos Sports Management Institute
  • Create a program to introduce first-generation and minority students to STEM fields.

“One of our goals is to make the department more visible on campus,” said Joon Kim, chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies.

Pathway for social studies

He said the new ethnic studies pathway for aspiring social studies teachers is designed to make the field more inclusive and reflect diverse perspectives. The social studies pathway will be housed in Ethnic Studies, and leads to a Social Studies teaching license through the Center for Educator Preparation in the School of Education. It is currently going through the university’s curriculum approval process.

“The pathway will be almost like a triple major, combining education, history/social sciences, and ethnic/women’s studies,” Kim said. “We are very excited about this new program.”

Heidi Frederiksen, co-director of the Center for Educator Preparation in the School of Education, said she is confident that the Colorado Department of Education will approve the new pathway once it’s been cleared by the College of Liberal Arts, because it’s exactly what schools are seeking.

“Our schools are looking more and more for teachers who are well-versed in a variety of backgrounds,” Frederiksen said. “We’ve collaborated with people across campus and with school districts to ensure it will be a robust curriculum that will involve looking at social studies and history through a different lens. It’s exactly what schools need.”

Diversity certificate

Kim said the diversity certificate is needed because students in STEM and business fields have to be comfortable working with diverse populations. To earn the certificate, students would need to take three to four classes from a variety of choices in ethnic studies and women’s studies.

Sophomore Kim Lopez, a biological sciences major who is minoring in ethnic studies, stresses the importance of incorporating ethnic studies into the hard sciences.

“As a biological sciences major, it seems like pursuing an ethnic studies minor is contradictory, since science is supposed to be a discipline based off all these facts and methods, and ethnic studies teaches you about people and history,” she said. “The more I dig into both biology and ethnic studies though, I see a lot of connections between the two.

“For example, they can both be used to better the world we live in,” she explained. “Biology can be used to advance medicine and quality of life, and give reasoning for why we are the way we are in terms of anatomy or evolution. Ethnic studies educates us on parts of our society that we can’t ignore because race, gender, class, etc. influence our identities beyond who we are as organisms.

Through the education it provides, it allows us to recognize our power as individuals and brings light to institutional injustices that it is our generation’s duty to amend. Fundamentally, both of these areas seek to better understand ourselves and our worlds through knowledge, with the hope that we can create a better future.”

Diversifying STEM fields

In addition to those initiatives, Ethnic Studies has collaborated with four other CSU colleges (Agricultural Sciences, Natural Sciences, Health and Human Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences) to submit a grant proposal to the Office of the Vice President for Research for its Catalyst for Innovative Partnerships.

The proposal aims to create a program to support local first-generation and minority high school students by providing culturally appropriate educational and hands-on research opportunities in STEM fields. Ethnic Studies intends to pursue types of research and teaching programs that intentionally draw parallels across disciplines. Kim said the initiative would provide seed funding to “clusters of collaboration” in which students could get firsthand experience in STEM fields by shadowing researchers, for example.

“There are many opportunities to reach certain populations and introduce them to fields where they are underrepresented and where we think we can play a significant mediator role,” Kim said.

“Those pursuing the extremely competitive jobs in STEM will need to know the people they will be working with and how much they share in common,” Lopez added. “Personally, ethnic studies has strengthened my commitment to STEM. As a woman of color with a future in the medical field, I have to be armed with knowledge of the power I possess in order to break into this traditionally white male role. Before I was introduced to ethnic studies, I was doubtful that I could take on such a big task. Now I am certain and beyond excited to carry what ethnic studies taught me into biology. I couldn’t imagine taking one without the other!”

New master’s program

Finally, a proposed new online interdisciplinary M.A. program from the Denver Broncos Sports Management Institute would be housed in the College of Liberal Arts, and some courses may be available as early as this fall. Albert Bimper, an assistant professor in ethnic studies, is helping lead the effort, and ethnic studies courses will be an integral part of the program. The initial target enrollment of about 100 students would reap the same benefits from CSU’s groundbreaking partnership with the Broncos as those in the undergraduate sports management program launched in 2015. That includes internships with the Broncos and other local and regional sports franchises, as well as the CSU athletics department.

“Our department strives to make a bigger impact on CSU campus and beyond through these innovative programs and partnerships that focus on meaning-making experiences for our students through integrative instructions and research opportunities,” Kim said.


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